5 Best Practices for Warehouse Management
December 5, 2020
What are the best practices for warehouse management?
- Optimize Picking Operations
- Make Safety a Priority
- Anticipate Disruptions
- Keep A Record of All Stock Movements
- Understand Warehouse KPIs
The key to a smooth-sailing supply chain is through implementing the most effective warehouse management best practices. Although this is the ideal situation, you want to make sure that most of your processes are fully-optimized. After all, this is what gives you greater benefit in the long-run — if your warehouse processes are efficient, you can make your order fulfillment process become more seamless. This provides better customer satisfaction and will ultimately help you reap more profit in the long run.
With your warehouse, the technical aspects are just as important as the physical space. The main operations that take place cannot function well without good structural integrity for the physical location. Keeping this in mind, you may want to consider incorporating the techniques below in order to put both technical and physical considerations on the same wavelength. Continue reading to learn more.
Optimize Picking Operations
The picking process is one of the initial stages of the order fulfillment process. This is also arguably the most important one — when a picker makes a mistake on an SKU after receiving an order tab, then everything else after that fails.
Knowing this, it’s highly essential that the picking operations are as optimized as they can be. This can be improved through a variety of practices, such as changing the locations of the inventory so as to make them more reachable by the order picker.
On the other hand, the picking process can also be improved by making modifications to the storage system. Are the SKUs clustered together randomly? Or are they categorized based on a set of standards — i.e. volume, SKU type, size, perishable/non-perishable, and the like.
Make Safety a Priority
Warehouse safety is a factor that most warehouses nowadays overlook, but this shouldn’t be the case. Reducing the number of incidents or workplace accidents not only helps the warehouse maintain a good level of productivity but also ensures that all personnel is safe and free from harm.
Review your current standards on safety guidelines if you think that there’s something that needs to be improved. Likewise, you should always make sure that the physical location is kept free from clutter that can affect navigability for different machines and equipment.
Aside from the tips above, you should also see to it that the personnel are always wearing the right safety gear at all times, especially when they’re handling objects like utility carts, forklifts, pallet jacks, packing tools, and the like.
Disruptions are inevitable, but anticipating them is another good warehouse management practice. For example, if an equipment in the facility suddenly stops working, then you should have a backup plan to ensure that the entire system doesn’t experience downtimes for too long.
For large companies, disruptions happen frequently and the cost seems insurmountable. To give an example, think about what would happen if your warehouse experienced an hour-long disruption. This may be manageable for small warehouses, but what about larger warehouses you ask? The losses are staggering — around 8 million pesos, to give an estimate.
The above situation illustrates perfectly just how important it is that you anticipate and subsequently mitigate disruptions as soon as they take place. It all depends on your preference on how you should approach this, be it creating a crisis management taskforce, or developing system backups to maintain continuity.
Keep A Record of All Stock Movements
Another key to successful warehouse management has to do with the level of control that you exercise on your stock movements. Stocks are constantly moving about your inventory — keeping track of where they are at all times ensures accuracy in fulfilling orders as well as inventory organization.
Stock record-keeping is best accompanied by warehouse technology that can help you automate your systems. A warehouse management system for example can provide your warehouse with an all-around view of all the stocks that are being moved around on-site, as well as inbounding and outbounding stocks.
Doing this greatly helps your order pickers do their tasks more efficiently, while also increasing accuracy in the way your inventory is organized.
Understand Warehouse KPIs
Efficiency could mean a number of different things for different industries, but there is one certainty: everything that is done in your warehouse is measured against a KPI (Key Performance Index). Without this, you wouldn’t have anything to base the current quality of your warehouse operations.
There are several KPIs that you may consider revisiting, particularly when you’re experiencing a dip in performance. These may include the following: storage, ratio of inventory to sales, picking, packing, receiving, putaways, unloading, and many more.
By doing this, you have a better perspective on which processes aren’t working well for your company. Having this knowledge helps you identify bottlenecks and areas of improvement much easier.
When it comes to warehouse management, the best practices can be defined across a number of categories. You can organize your warehouse by simply making it safer for your personnel. Or, you could also begin understanding how you can better anticipate disruptions, define KPIs, and ensure that all information related to your inventory remains accurate.
There is no silver bullet that can create a positive, lasting impression on your warehouse. Choosing the technique that works best for you means understanding the current situation, and taking the steps to make improvements to it.