4 Ways to Improve Warehouse Efficiency
February 5, 2021
What are the different ways to improve warehouse efficiency?
- Examine current processes
- Organize warehouse layout
- Invest in inventory management
- Properly train your workforce
The warehouse is one of the key major physical structures involved in any supply chain. This is where most of the distribution stage is influenced. Pickers sort out SKUs and combine them together for order fulfillment, after, each fulfilled package gets shipped out by couriers. While there are some standard processes in a warehouse, it’s better to continually find ways to improve warehouse efficiency.
You can do several measures such as reorienting the current layout, investing in technology, improving the picking order process, or even subjecting your workforce to comprehensive training. Read on to learn more.
Examine Current Processes
Before you even make any changes to the warehouse, it’s crucial that you make a thorough examination of all the processes currently being done with it. Finding areas of improvement can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. Likewise, you might also run the risk of making a process even less efficient than it was in the beginning.
The thing about any supply chain command is that if just one aspect isn’t functioning as expected, it can already create a domino effect on succeeding processes. This is no less true in the warehouse where inventory management, order fulfillment, packaging, shipping, receiving of goods, and many more are done in great quantities.
A good way to make an accurate assessment is to ask your employees who are on the ground day in and out receiving orders, packaging SKUs, and shipping out parcels for delivery. Get their opinions and input. If possible, you can even get a consensus where you can then base any positive action that you can take.
Organize Warehouse Layout
Even the kind and quality of warehouse design can already affect the efficiency of your processes. You might not realize it at first, but there may be physical structures around the warehouse that are hampering your operations.
For example, the aisles are just too narrow, preventing the pickers from efficiently choosing the right SKU. Or, the traffic is just all over the place — there is no designated passageway for the forklifts to safely pass without disturbing other operations.
Keeping all of these in mind, you may also want to revisit your current warehouse layout. Identify all the processes that occur in your warehouse and devise a strategy by which they can all collaborate and run smoothly together without affecting the other process.
Who knows? Something as simple as putting signage or floor markers might just be the key for your workforce to increase productivity and significantly improve the overall efficiency level.
Invest in Inventory Management
If a crucial bottleneck in your warehouse operations has much to do with how the inventory is managed, then it’s better that you invest in technology to help you out. With inventory management, not only will you be given full visibility of all stocks and goods in your storage, but you’re also given insights for better planning.
For example, the warehouse management system tool can offer you actionable insight into what you can do with the current warehouse storage. Maybe it’s not as efficient implementing the FIFO or first in first out process as much as you’d like. This can be a problem especially if your warehouse may also be storing perishable goods that don’t have a long shelf life.
Another benefit of the WMS is that it can provide you with data and analytics that you can use to determine whether or not you need a change in how inventory is handled. You may even turn towards other cost-effective alternatives such as a lean inventory that can help you limit the number of stocks stored in the warehouse and subsequently manage them better.
Properly Train Your Workforce
In a scaling warehouse, the workforce may either grow or shrink, depending on the circumstance. All other factors aside, proper employee training can define just how well you’re able to manage the workforce and how well they can seamlessly adapt into warehouse operations.
Warehouse training is a career-long endeavor that doesn’t just end after the employee has already been onboarded into the job, but rather it should be ongoing since there are processes that can be subject to change.
When employees are properly trained, they have a better grasp of the processes and what they can do to contribute to warehouse productivity ratings. Likewise, the warehouse is also made to become a much safer place for them. They understand the need for safety measures and precautions, which may ultimately reduce any instances of downtime or a slowdown in operations.
If you’re managing a warehouse and want to truly think of ways to improve warehouse efficiency, taking a step back and identifying all of the key activities is crucial. Only then will you be able to identify any areas of improvement.
It won’t be long before you’re able to make positive changes to the inventory, the management system, the warehouse layout, or even how well your workforce is integrated into the processes.
There is no one true solution for every kind of warehouse because each is different. Nevertheless, the tips above can serve as helpful starting points to make decisions that truly benefit the entire warehouse.