Inefficient warehouses can quickly turn into logistical nightmares of delays, confusion and misinformation. Here are five tips for improving warehouse efficiency and operations that will save you time and money while avoiding unnecessary headaches.
1. Improve Inbound Shipments
Failure to hold vendors accountable sends the message that sub-par performance is acceptable. Consider scheduling incoming purchase orders in order to better manage the receiving dock. Make sure that your warehouse management system is effective and continues to meet your needs.
2. Centralize and Standardize
Reduce the number of times items are handled by streamlining the receiving process and improving the inventory layout. Reduce the number of workers involved and avoid having separate people for receiving, stocking and database updating.
Instead, empower individuals to completely handle incoming shipments in the most efficient way. Create standard operating procedures to ensure that all employees follow the same guidelines.
3. Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement depends on successfully responding to change in an open and proactive manner. Logistical problems should not just end up on a supervisor’s to-do list that gets covered with paperwork in the office. Continuous improvement depends on standard procedures and communication protocols that ensure that problems are immediately dealt with.
Use corrective action plans that document the responsible party, their supervisor, the deadline, and the goal. Have management review the plans during their weekly meetings. Post an improvement suggestion sheet in the break room for employees.
4. Upgrade Equipment
Certain products need to maintain specific temperatures. Consider using customized tank heaters, like ones offered from Powerblanket, to maintain the right conditions. Warehouses are notoriously cold, and employees need a comfortable working environment. Consider installing High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) fans to decrease the amount of heat escaping through the door.
5. Redesign Layout
Major inventory storage redesigns will cost time and money. In order to avoid this, maintain flexibility with location, inventory procedures and shipment requirements. Consider using temporary, adjustable storage bins and racks.
Fishbowl Warehouse is an invaluable tool in this area, showing you what items are often ordered together and what your top-selling products are. Armed with this information, you can reorganize your warehouse to put those products together and also put popular products closer to the receiving area for more efficient receiving and shipping.
Warehouses can be run smoothly by following these steps consistently. Through improving inbound shipment procedures, standardization, continuous improvement, equipment upgrades, and redesigning the layout, you will find your warehouse to be a boon to your business.
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym.