Any business that deals with the sale or development of physical products depends on its warehouse. An efficient warehouse system means an efficient business, which puts a lot of pressure on warehouse management to maintain a strong grip on operations.
But optimizing warehouse operations doesn’t have to mean completely revamping the way you do things. It just means being smarter about your approach towards basic systems and processes.
Inventory management, for example, is an oft-overlooked aspect of warehouse operations that has loads of potential for improvement. And once the right systems are implemented, you can make life much easier and more profitable for both yourself and your warehouse staff.
Assess The Efficiency Of Your Floor Plan
If you’re looking for simple, easy ways to improve warehouse operations, the first place you should look is the floor plan. The layout of your warehouse can give you many clues about its level of efficiency.
Regardless of the building size or industry, there are some features that every warehouse should include for optimal productivity and smooth functioning. They are:
- Easy entrance and exit routes
- Marked sections for each step in production
- Enough space for forklifts or pallet jacks to move around safely
- A clear path to follow throughout
- Garbage disposal areas
These are all simple elements of a warehouse floor plan that should be executed well. Consider your team’s needs and production demands and use them to guide your decisions about how to set up the layout of your warehouse as it can make the world of a difference.
Conduct Regular Inventory Counts
Physical inventory counts can’t be relied on alone. You should be auditing your inventory on a regular basis in order to gain a better idea of the ebb and flow of products moving through your warehouse.
Performing cycle counts every month to every three months is important for reducing inventory shrinkage and generally keeping tabs on your stock lists.
Use Warehouse Management Software Programs
Modern warehouse managers are lucky. Today, we have access to a wide range of automative tools and software programs that can make warehouse operations significantly easier and more efficient. They can track inventory, process orders, handle billing, schedule production, and manage stock.
Some of the highest-ranking warehouse management software programs on the market right now include management tools and support features designed to streamline and organize warehouse productivity and manage the yards, too. They vary in subscription costs, generally ranging between $20 and $50 per month, making them a worthwhile investment across the board.
Set Strict Spatial Boundaries For Each Zone
When different stages of production are all happening in one zone, things can get chaotic, fast. And there’s no need for that kind of disorder. Even if your warehouse is small, there are ways to create boundaries between each zone that makes it easier for everyone to execute their duties efficiently.
By setting clear and delineated spatial boundaries, it becomes easier to optimize operations. You can allocate specific zones to the relevant staff, or assign areas based on what’s needed in each. In doing so, you limit the crossover of staff in zones and reduce congestion, especially in a smaller space.
Provide Thorough Onboarding And Training
A team of employees who lack the skills or experience needed to maintain a smooth-functioning warehouse will struggle to meet industry standards. Not only that, but an ill-equipped workforce can lead to more warehouse accidents and a lower employee job satisfaction rate.
There’s a simple answer to these issues. Proper training and onboarding. By not only providing a thorough onboarding system but also offering training and re-training, you can ensure that the members of your team are operating at the highest and safest level of optimization.
Invest In Clear Signage And Labeling
It sounds simple, but it can make a big difference. Sometimes, the reason a warehouse is struggling to meet its supply demands or function at an optimal level is because workers are confused about what, where, and how things are supposed to get stored.
Investing in clear signage and labeling will help reduce the amount of confusion around warehouse storage and encourage employees to practice more organizational habits.
Communicate With Staff And Get Feedback
The people who work in the warehouse will be able to offer you direct insight into what systems need improving and which ones are doing just fine.
Establishing a healthy line of communication between warehouse staff and supervisors can help reduce avoidable errors and gain a more grounded perspective on optimization. Besides, strengthening communication and relationships between different tiers of employees is always beneficial.
Use Warehouse Slotting To Mitigate Inventory Loss
Warehouse slotting is a term that refers to a popular stock organizational system. A slot is a shelf, where inventory items might sit, and a slotting system is what happens when you stack those shelves in a way that synchronizes with the pace at which those items need to be shipped out.
Essentially, warehouse slotting is a system that helps you move high-velocity items out of the door faster. You assess which products are most in demand, and situate them in a way that makes it easy for the highest velocity items to be processed in the fastest way possible.
Follow Industry Trends And Standards
You can learn a lot about how to improve the management of your warehouse by communicating with others in your industry. The same goes for following news reports on new automation trends or organizational software that could benefit your company.
Participating in both local and global or online conversations about warehouse optimization will keep you up to date with cutting-edge technologies and current standards for efficiency. Doing so will also help you to reduce your operating costs, and if you know how to calculate profit margin, you’ll soon see the impact that current innovations can have on your warehouse.
Just like any other component of business, warehouse management and operations should be constantly reviewed and improved upon. Over time, certain systems will become outdated and need to be fixed, while other issues like production overflow or low employee morale can also negatively impact systemic efficiency.
Regularly reviewing the processes and operations at play is important for noticing fallibilities and seeing opportunities for improvement. Discussing ideas with floor workers and asking for their input is another important component of successful warehouse operations.