Improving warehouse efficiency is a never ending cycle. At times you feel the highest of highs, at other times? Well, not so much. Therefore managers are always looking for an edge, a golden box which will contain all the hidden secrets regarding improving warehouse efficiency.
Of course, no such box exists yet there are many useful resources out there which have been dedicated to improving warehouse efficiency. As a result, this article is intended to give you some tips for improving warehouse efficiency. Pick and choose what you will, and feel free to expand on the basic principles offered below:
Create a Picking Path
The picking path essentially determines the entire flow of the warehouse. Therefore, your picking path begins at one end of the warehouse (such as ‘arrivals’) and ends at the other side (such as the wrapping or staging area). The goal is to determine what is the most efficient way to structure your picking path and involves asking yourself a lot of questions: Will I create too much traffic placing these two staging areas next to each other? Does the forklift need to travel too far in this particular instance?
Inventory, Inventory, Inventory
You already understand the importance of inventory because you work in a warehouse after all. But do you frequently bin by top hits? In order to maximize results you need to make sure inventory is properly binned which means you are constantly reevaluating the top hits items in order to make those products not only regularly available, but also easily accessible. Some experts estimate that by binning by top hits you are increasing efficiency by 20 percent.
Maintaining Proper Stock
When the budget allows you should always have more inventory, right? The answer is not always yes. Keep in mind all items have a shelf life. When restocking, all items need to be rotated. Unfortunately, the more stock on-hand the longer it will take to restock inventory. Therefore, maintaining the proper amount of stock is not as simple as ‘the more the better’. In certain cases you do more with less.
Loading and Shipping
There are a variety of tips and techniques which will save time and ultimately improve efficiency inside your warehouse. Helpful reminders include: saving the bulk items for the end or separating from the small picks, utilizing picking manifests so multiple orders can be pulled at once, etc. Also, take into account shipping issues: the first item you load is the last thing you deliver, posting when outside offices are closed for lunch, etc can help prevent stalls on the road.
Comfortable Work Environment
Managers! Remember that your employees are people not just expenses. Consequently, do not treat them as anything less than how you would like to be treated. Simple additions such as turning on a radio can boost productivity and it is backed by scientific studies. Controlling warehouse climate and offering enough breaks is also vital. Lastly, make sure you appreciate and listen to employee feedback without passing judgment. You’ll be surprised how much these simple tips can do for creativity.