Efficiency and accuracy are the cornerstones of smooth functionality for a warehouse. By standardizing product storage and packaging processes, a small business can reduce unnecessary traffic 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 tips 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.
By separating items such as parts and consumables in a secure area with proper storage containers, 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 warehouse.
2. Place older 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 to much space, especially if you use some smart organization strategies in their creation. A specialist from Quantum Storage recommends using stackable storage bins to maximize the amount of storage space available.
4. Store heavier and slower-moving items on top level shelves or in back of your facility.
Areas of the warehouse that are not easy to reach or access 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 packaging area is located as close to the loading dock as possible.
This step reduces 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.
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 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 staff 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, management staff can maximize production and help incentivize employees to perform well.