Warehouse efficiency when dealing with incoming deliveries, picking products off the shelf, packaging them and dispatching to waiting retail stores or end customers is all about timing. When every process in the chain is not optimized, it slows down the whole operation. Getting expected shipments ready for pickup and then out the warehouse door is where the rubber meets the road.
Here are some tips on how to make your warehouse operate more efficiently.
One of the main bottlenecks within a warehouse is the packaging stage. Relying on human labor to package up goods in a systematic fashion while getting the right items in the correct box is a time-consuming and expensive task. It’s also fairly slow and error-prone too, which anyone who’s ever received incorrect items with their online shopping can well attest to.
Automate where possible and use human labor to deal with any issues or run quality-control checks. Companies should make use of automated packaging solutions to remove some of the bottlenecks. Packaging machines can make light work of dealing with the goods and preparing them for shipment.
Use Warehouse Space Efficiently and Well
Warehouse space isn’t always used as efficiently as it might be. That mainly applies to vertical space, not just horizontal space usage. The inclusion of both taller units for goods or parts storage, along with the necessary equipment to access higher areas, safely maximizes the warehouse space.
There’s also the option of putting in a mezzanine floor as a secondary level, which is often easier to deal with than stacking storage units higher.
Also, consider what items are stored at different levels. Using small items on a large shelf wastes height that could be better utilized with a bulkier item. Create shelving of different sizes to make full use of the shelving system. Bins are useful for this. They split a shelving level in half to create an artificial second level within an existing shelf.
Location, Location, Location
Every company has items that sell out quickly or are seasonally popular. Ensure that these popular SKUs are stored near where they’ll either be received or sent to packaging for shipment. This reduces the amount of unnecessary movement or manpower moving products from point A to point B.
Consider Lean Inventory Options
Consider using a lean inventory where a limited amount of stock is kept on hand. It’s not suitable for every business – particularly ones that restock internationally with long lead times between deliveries. However, it commits far less capital to stock that’s sitting idle and lowers both the risk of theft or holding previous versions of a best-selling item that proves hard to sell later when a new version is released.
As well as the above suggestions, see how you can use multi-skilling in the warehouse workforce too. This way, staff can move to different roles as needed to make maximum use of the available labor force while not increasing staffing costs. By focusing on warehouse efficiencies, it’s possible to wring out a higher profit for the same level of operational spending.