9 Ways To Manage Warehouses More Efficiently
The efficiency of business operations can be the difference between making a profit and a loss. When it comes to warehouse management, this is particularly true. To stay ahead of the competition, resourceful warehouse operators will make use of all techniques available.
Knowing that your warehouse operations require an update is only the start and you need to look closely at the current state of operations. Only then will you be able to determine the next step to take. All warehouses are different, but there are certain common factors that you can look at to start making a difference.
A Smart Layout
All successful warehouse operators will take the time to create a thorough plan for their storage. These plans generally have the most commonly picked items close to the front with the items that are often sold together stored together. To ensure that space is used correctly, you should have items of the same shape and size on the same shelves. This will prevent small items from being misplaced and allows for consistent vertical space utilization.
Your business is made by your ability to fulfill orders in a fast, accurate and efficient manner. This is particularly true when you run an e-commerce business where there is a lot of competition. The first step to optimizing your warehouse is to consider the current layout and see where you can improve this.
Periodic Layout Reviews
There are thousands of different warehouse configurations that you can try, but there are only a few that will work perfectly for your space. Unfilled space is rare in warehouses, but the mix of products will change over time. This is why you need to review the layout of your warehouse every 1 to 2 years to ensure that it is still working perfectly. An example of the change in products sizing is the fact that many products become smaller over time, but your shelves are still optimized for the larger items leaving them inefficient.
Before you move any of your popular items further back in the warehouse, you should consider how you use your vertical space. If you have any overstock, you could store it on high shelves which leaves the lower shelves open for more commonly picked items. This will increase efficiency and you will know where everything is.
The productivity of your warehouse can be greatly impacted by the standardization of cases, shelves, and bins. When you store materials consistently, they will be easier to find and put away. All the shelving in your warehouse can also be distanced for these standard bins which ensure that you are able to use all the space available. Standard packaging will also make it easier to find products when it comes to picking improving the overall efficiency of the warehouse operations.
Eliminating Non-Value Actions
The identification and reduction of waste is the only way that you will create lean operations. To do this, you need to look at all the process in the warehouse on a yearly basis and ensure that there are no unnecessary steps in them. You should also take the time to review your product mix to ensure that all the products are stored in the correct location such as popular items in the front.
If you have a warehouse with data collection, you need to have enough stations and ensure they are positioned correctly to make transaction entries easy. You should also look at any open orders and shortages when materials arrive. This will ensure the warehouse team does not put something away only to pick it again.
The Right Training
Of the material that people learn, only a small percentage is retained and this percentage shrinks over time. There are many people who do not like the idea of spending a lot of time training warehouse personnel, but the increase in productivity you have will make it worthwhile. When the team knows the best way to complete their job, you will lose less time.
It is important that your long-term warehouse employees also have refresher training periodically. The more exposure they have to the materials, the more information will be retained. A team that is well-trained will be more efficient, but you need to take the time to train everyone.
Have Sophisticated Picking Methods
If you are still picking orders in batches, you should use wave or consolidated picking to reduce the number of times warehouse staff have to move through the warehouse. When you consolidate orders, team members will pick for multiple orders in a single trip through the warehouse. This dramatically increases your efficiency. Another method to consider for routine products is automated picking.
A lot of modern warehouses will receive orders in a continuous flow. This does not help when it comes to wave picking. In these warehouses, it might be better to have a streamlined process which works toward the best practices for the business in terms of picking and storage.
Get Rid Of Paper
Paper uses a lot of space, it can be lost and will need to be printed, stored and filed. A paper-based warehouse is not resourceful or green and you need to eliminate this. Digital picking lists and RF devices are some of the paperless methods that you can use instead.
While there are many methods of improving the overall efficiency of your warehouse, you will still use manual methods in most cases. One of the steps that you should consider for your warehouse is automation. A good IT system will not help you with warehouse management steps, but it will perform tasks at a faster speed.
If you do not have an IT system in place, you are working at a disadvantage. It is important that you take the time to consider your process and whether implementing an IT system is the best option.
Warehouse efficiency is a combination of vigilance, best practices, and common sense. You need to be up to date with the newest techniques being used and the technology that can help. Reviewing everything periodically will also help improve your warehouse operations.