Efficiency, Productivity, Safety & More
A wide selection of tips, strategies and ideas to quickly improve your warehouse
Running a warehouse is an incredibly tough job. Running one efficiently and successfully is even more difficult. But get it right and the impact it can have on the success of your business is huge. It can help to drive efficiency and productivity gains, it can aid employee safety, and reduce overheads. It can even help towards improving customer satisfaction and increase revenue. And of course, the role that your packaging plays in this success (or otherwise) can be critical too.
Getting it wrong can mean inefficient staff, not shipping or processing inventory in good time, and ultimately see your business lose credibility. As such, this guide offers our quick tips, ideas and strategies that can be applied to your business.
Adopt lean warehouse practices
Whilst warehousing was traditionally about the storage of goods, the advent of eCommerce and globalised markets have seen it change dramatically over the last 2 decades.
As such, adopting a lean methodology should now be the aim of most – if not all – warehouse operations. A lean methodology effectively aims to reduce waste of any kind, so in the context of the warehouse, relates to reduced time loading and unloading vehicles, less time spent picking and retrieving stock and concise stock replenishment.
All of this leads to greater efficiency, reduced costs and ensuring sales opportunities are not lost.
Conduct a full warehouse audit
Similarly to the above, conducting a full warehouse audit is usually the first step to improving your processes and, ultimately, efficiency. This needs to encompass every area of your operations, from asking whether your stock is organised logically if your packaging inventory is too large, all the way through to how efficient and streamlined your order picking is. And if this sounds difficult, there are a number of third party organisations that will be able to offer this service.
Analyse / improve picking methods
Order picking and stock retrieval is a surprisingly complex topic (you can read a dedicated article about this here). However, it is important to choose a suitable picking methodology, as well as supporting picking bins / pick face walls, as this has a direct impact on the efficiency and overall success of your supply chain. It can also help to improve staff morale and effectiveness too.
Use Kitting trays / strategies
Popular in the automotive industry, but equally applicable to an effective warehouse, kitting trays and totes can be used to group parts, products or components that are often used together. This can improve efficiency, reduce inventory handling times and also help to minimise errors as well. It can also help to reduce lead times within your business.
Focus on investment
Similar to the above, by placing a focus on investment in quality equipment, processes and technology, your business will see long term gains. Whilst this will come partly from the improved efficiency offered, it can also boost the morale of staff, as they can see you are not only investing in the future of the business but are also trying to make their life easier too.
Awareness of safety equipment
Besides PPE, it is also important that staff are aware of other safety equipment. This includes using pallet trucks or hydraulic dollies for moving loads which are too heavy to carry manually, all the way through to knowing where emergency exits are and not blocking sprinkler systems by stacking stock to high in specific locations. Ongoing training and refreshers are again essential.
JIT (Just in Time)
For specific items that you require in your warehouses – such as corrugated packaging or consumables – you could consider a JIT supply agreement with your vendor. This would see them store your stock and deliver it just as required. This obviously reduces the amount of storage space required for your packaging but also makes picking more efficient (due to a reduced overall packaging inventory managed by your supplier).