10 Great Warehouse Optimization Tips for Small Businesses

June 26, 2015
Optimize your warehouse with these tips, Fishbowl Blog

Warehouse efficiency and accuracy are the cornerstones of smooth functionality for a facility. By standardizing product storage and packaging processes, a small business can reduce unnecessary traffic of warehouse workers and help prevent shipping errors. By conducting an annual review of shipments and seasonal trends, your business can make key staffing and purchasing adjustments to maximize productivity. Below are ten warehouse organization ideas designed to help improve your small business by optimizing the efficiency of your warehouse operations:

1. Designate an area of your warehouse as the storage area for small parts and accessories

Proper warehouse design and space utilization are important. By separating items such as parts and consumables in a secure area with proper storage units, warehouse managers can help prevent the loss of smaller pieces. In some cases, it may be helpful to have a supervisor oversee this section of the small business warehouse operation.

2. Place older warehouse inventory items at the front of the shelf to ensure that they ship first

This is particularly crucial for small businesses that sell items with an expiration date or for those businesses that resell products purchased with a time-sensitive factory warranty.

3. Designate two or three areas as “easy access” areas of your warehouse

Warehouse picking staff should have easy access to the products that are requested with the greatest frequency. These areas don’t have to take up too much storage space, especially if you use some smart small warehouse organization strategies in their creation. A specialist from Quantum Storage recommends using stackable warehouse storage bins to maximize the amount of storage space available.

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4. Store heavier and slower-moving items on top level shelves or in the back of your facility

Any warehouse space that is not easy to reach or access by the warehouse employees should be reserved for slower moving products or those items that require a forklift to move.

5. Standardize your packaging process by using only three to five different size boxes

In addition to increasing the efficiency of your packaging staff, limiting the number of box and crate sizes that you keep on hand will reduce packaging and shipping costs.

6. Ensure that the warehouse space for packaging is located as close to the loading dock as possible

Incorporating this step into your warehouse design and space utilization reduces warehouse staff traffic and prevents packaged items from being lost or damaged before they are shipped.

7. Set up the quality control “QC” area as close as possible to the packaging area

The QC process should is the last and most important phase of the order preparation process. It is imperative that items remain free from contamination or unnecessary handling before they are packaged. When the QC station is right next to the packaging area, the likelihood of contamination is greatly reduced and makes inventory tracking easier.

8. Conduct an annual review of your order totals for each product

By knowing which products are the most and least popular, the warehouse manager or warehouse operator can coordinate with purchasing staff to suggest possible adjustments to buying cycles.

9. Consider shipping patterns and peak days when creating staffing schedules

Production bottlenecks can be prevented by anticipating peak production times and increasing warehouse workers during those time periods.

10. Consider an efficiency based bonus program for pickers and warehouse employees

By rewarding employees who exhibit a high rate of efficiency and a low rate of errors, warehouse management staff can maximize production and help incentivize employees to perform well.