If you are struggling to roll out products on time at your warehouse, you won’t have a happy customer base. And, we all know that a happy customer base is critical to the success of any business! Perhaps you are meeting order delivery times? Still, you will be surprised by how much of a difference little tweaks can make in a warehouse. After all, there is always room for improvement, and this can have a huge, positive impact on the bottom line of your organisation. With that in mind, read on to discover some top tips on how you can improve the efficiency of your warehouse.
1. Organise Workstations
One of the reasons why your warehouse may be lacking on the productivity front is because your workers spend a lot of time searching for equipment and tools. If this sounds familiar, now is a good time to start organising your workstations. Use the ‘5S’ method from lean manufacturing to make certain all workstations are as organised as they can be. If you are unaware of this method, it simply consists of the following:
> Set in order
These are five simple approaches that are designed to improve organisation and safety, lower errors, and keep clutter at bay.
2. Adopt Enabling Technology
It is important to implement a warehouse management system, or opt for an ERP system that has a good warehouse management module. This will help you to boost efficiency by a considerable degree, as it will show you the best methods or routes for picking or put-away. You can also reduce wasted time and paper because these systems supply automated pick lists that are sent directly to mobile readers. This makes your warehouse workers’ jobs a lot easier, and it also makes your warehouse greener and neater too. You should consider using radio frequency or barcode identification readers, as they will reduce picking errors and boost the accuracy of any transactions.
3. Train Your Staff
It is important to make sure that all managers are properly trained. They need to be aware of the trigger points for ensuring optimal efficiency levels. This should not be a one-off approach to training. It needs to be an ongoing process, with updates on new technology and regular employee reviews. This should work both ways, i.e. encourage feedback from your staff, as this will give you the platform to deal with any problems quickly and effectively. You increase efficiency and reduce risk when you share information freely.
4. Add Lean Inventory
This is just as critical as it is in manufacturing. The basic premise of learn is having only what you need – nothing more. It could be a good idea to get rid of safety stocks, or at least reduce them.
5. Optimise and Maximise All Space Available
When setting up your warehouse, it is so important to take space utilisation into account. Are you currently using all space that is available to you? This includes vertical space too. Adding taller storage units to your warehouse can help you to keep more in the same square footage, as opposed to adding expansion costs. You also need to consider the variety and type of shelving you use. You are going to waste space if you store small items on pallet racks. Plus, it is easy to misplace things too. Try a variety of shelving types for the different materials and products you are housing. To keep shelves orderly and neat, standardised bins also come recommended.
6. Implement an Incentive Program
Performance targets are vital for warehouses. A good starting point with this is to implement an automatic data capture and identification system. This will result in pallet movements being made quicker and improved efficiencies because you will have access to valuable and reliable data, where programs can be adjusted, analysers, and monitored so they are safer and more achievable.
7. Align Yourself with a Quality Haulage Firm
You may be doing everything right in the warehouse, but if you aren’t taking advantage of the best heavy haulage and transport services, how do you expect to operate efficiently? It is important to choose a quality firm that has an array of transportation solutions available. While a cheap deal is always desirable, quality is the most important thing. After all, a low cost haulage and transport company is only going to cost you more money in the long run if they do not deliver your products efficiently.
8. Track Your Products
Nowadays, end-to-end traceability of products is made easy thanks to the complete tracking systems that are available. By using the latest location tracking technology, you will have full visibility regarding the location of your products through manufacturing, quality control, warehousing, and despatch.
9. Optimise Labour
If your warehouse management system does not give you the ability to create efficient picking plans, you need to make the effort to manually generate them. You should evaluate your use patterns for all materials, and store items that have high-volume use together at the front of the warehouse. This will reduce travel time. Moreover, if you have products that are regularly stored together, they should be placed near to one and other. All in all, the aim is to streamline your operations so that you can avoid picking delays.
10. Continually Review Your Effectiveness
Last but not least, you will never achieve efficiency if you remain stagnant. A successful warehouse is one that always looks for improvements. You may be efficient today, but that does not mean you are going to be efficient in six months time. This is because trends and technologies are always changing, as well as other internal and external factors. You are only going to know how effective you are operating if you continue to review your warehouse. You need to know if you are utilising your resources to their fullest potential, so make sure you review the whole system on a continual basis. If you do this, you can spot errors for opportunity so that your warehouse never gets left behind.