Running a warehouse is all about efficiency. Your employees need to move quickly if you want to get packages out the door and keep up with the competition.
If your team can’t find what they need inside your warehouse, items may go missing or your packages may be delayed. Refer to the dos and don’ts of warehouse management to improve efficiency at every turn.
- Use Pick-to-Light Systems
You need your employees to retrieve items as quickly as possible when getting packages ready for delivery, but, if you have hundreds of SKUs to keep track of, finding individual products on the shelf can be a challenge. Pick-to-light systems show your employees exactly what they need and where to find it, so they can prepare packages without second-guessing themselves. Studies show pick-to-light systems can improve pick rate productivity by up to 30-50 percent.
- Preventative Maintenance
Your warehouse depends on technology, such as forklifts, barcode scanners and your inventory tracking system. If these components break down, your warehouse will likely grind to a halt, delaying key processes and infuriating your customers. Plan for these repairs in advance with preventative maintenance. Schedule downtime for your equipment so it doesn’t break down when you need it most.
- Automatic Data Collection
Today’s warehouses run on data. Warehouse management systems keep you informed every step of the way, including how many products are on the shelf at any given time, how many orders you can expect within a given time period and whether you have enough staff on hand to make ends meet. It’s best to automate the data collection process so you don’t have to worry about important information slipping through the cracks. Every time one of your employees scans an item or sends a package off for delivery, it should be logged in the system. That way, you always have access to accurate information.
- Simplify Material Handling with Bulk Containers
Use bulk containers to boost efficiency when loading and unloading inventory. Your team won’t have to move as many containers. Forklifts and hand carts make it easy to move large quantities of goods, so your team doesn’t have to move items by hand. Bulk containers will also help you reduce your shipping and storage costs.
- Keep Dissimilar SKUs in the Same Container
If you keep different items in the same container, your employees will have to sort through these products until they find what they need. If you have a lot of smaller items to keep track of, it’s best to break up these items with individually-labeled plastic totes and nesting totes for effective inventory management. Your team can quickly find what they need just by looking at the SKU number instead of having to sort through different products.
- Putting Inventory in the Wrong Spot
If your products don’t end up in the right spot, your team will have to work that much harder to find what they need. Encourage your team to put products back in the right location to improve inventory management. If anyone sees something that’s out of place, have them put it back in the right spot before moving on with their work.
- Not Maintaining Your Workspace
Getting products out the door may seem like the most important thing in the world, but you should never sacrifice the health and safety of your employees in the process. Spend time cleaning up after your team as they go about their business. Pick up loose parts, scraps and other debris to prevent trips and falls. Train your team on the latest safety protocols and encourage employees to look out for one another on the floor. You may have your eye on a series of key performance indicators, but nothing will slow down your business like unsafe working conditions.
- Not Mapping Out Your Warehouse
Organizing your warehouse into different zones or sections based on your inventory can help boost efficiency. Employees can quickly head to a certain section without having to scan a maze of aisles. Assign each product to a different zone or section based on type, size, value or SKU number. This simplifies the product retrieval process so your team can better navigate the space.
Just about every decision you make can affect the efficiency of your warehouse facility. Use these tips to improve routine processes, so your team can work smarter, not harder.