As a warehouse manager, you’re going to have a lot on your plate. There will be pressure from many different areas to keep your warehouse running smoothly and at a minimal cost. This certainly isn’t an easy task and there isn’t a one size fits all solution to an area that is forever changing.
This article looks at some of the simplest ways you can improve warehouse operations for your business.
Switch to automatic data collection
It’s been well documented that the traditional pen and paper is a big no-no when it comes to improving your warehouse operations. Automatic data collection through bar coding and tagging improves productivity and accuracy, so if you haven’t started using it already then it’s definitely time to think about it.
Share and publish company-wide information
So many businesses underestimate the important of sharing information throughout the different sectors within their company. Warehouse managers often have several different things to look after at once, as well as pressure to improve sales and cut costs from all sides. With sales, financial and stock information available to all, it’s easier to make clearer judgements on where needs improvement.
Use bin locations to for quick product location
Most distribution software available for warehouses today utilises bin locations because of their ability to quickly and accurately locate products in a warehouse. Bin locations help you to find products based on sales volume, which in turn can minimise the number of footsteps taken and increase productivity.
Record how often inventory is picked
If you’re desperate to maximise your space, you might want to think about recording inventory using an asset tracking system. By recording how often your inventory is picked, you can make a more informed decision on how much space to give it in your warehouse.
Resist the urge to ‘take care of it later’
It’s all too easy to say that you and your team will take care of something later if it doesn’t seem that important. Instead, force yourself into a routine where even if the task doesn’t seem that important you will still get it done. Packing away or recycling old boxes is just one ‘do it later’ tasks that might just slow you down if you don’t sort it there and then.
Implement a good returns system
Not enough warehouse managers place importance on returns, often because getting new products out there seems more important than dealing with ones that have been sent back. However, a bad returns process can cause your supply chain to become sluggish and leave you with piles of faulty goods that are taking up valuable space. Implement a good returns system now and see how much your warehouse operations improve.
Consider outside help to identify warehouse issues
Whilst from afar, most supply chains work in very much the same way, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, every warehouse is unique and therefore, has issues that are equally unique. If you think your warehouse operations could be better but are struggling to identify areas for improvement, you may want to enlist the help of a logistics and supply chain specialist. A warehouse consultant could be the outside perspective you need to get your warehouse back on track.
Keep frequent picks near shipment areas
It seems like a simple concept, but many warehouses fail to do it because they feel they have to stick to a specific pattern or strategy – even if it isn’t the most effective for a particular product. All warehouses are different and different products will sell better or worse at different times. By constantly assessing what products are selling and moving them nearer to shipment areas, you’ll speed up your picking process significantly.
Communicate clearly and often
What is your top priority for the warehouse this week? Is it getting products to shipping areas more quickly? Perhaps it is improving stock replenishment each day. Whatever you’re trying to improve upon, make sure that both you and your employees know what’s important. Clear communication keeps staff members happy, productive and ensures your warehouse operations run more smoothly.
Make warehouse safety a top priority
Improving productivity is important but so is the safety and wellbeing of your employees. In actual fact, injury and time off due to illness can actually be incredibly damaging to your supply chain.
So, to minimise rise the risk of injury or harm, you should consider putting health and safety warnings in high up, easy to see places. Having permanent reminders about safe practices should help to keep your staff members safer.