Most warehouses today would benefit from an operational audit to identify where changes might be made to improve efficiency and increase productivity. Every warehouse is different but by taking the time to review how your warehouse is functioning you could improve operations overall. These are some of the key areas to look at.
- Consult your workforce. People are any business’ most valuable resource and in a warehouse it’s your workforce who will be most aware of any issues that exist and what solutions might be required to improve operations. So, start by consulting your team to gather ideas about alterations that could be made and get support for implementing potential change.
- Consider automation. There are many different ways to bring automation into your warehouse and the benefits of doing this are numerous. From increasing productivity to better health and safety, operations will be more efficient and effective, whether you’re using automated storage and retrieval or pick to light systems.
- Start to measure performance. Introducing a simple system to measure the performance of the warehouse overall, as well as on a worker-by-worker basis, can be motivational and generate positive results in terms of productivity.
- Organise the warehouse based on sales. For example, placing the fastest selling items in the best picking position will help to improve operational efficiency. The same can also be achieved by placing items that often sell together in close picking proximity. If you’re looking to create space, slower sellers could potentially be moved to another location or assigned a location reduced in size.
- Make one simple tech change. For example, introducing bar code scanning into your warehouse will increase transparency and make it much easier to track and manage inventory. This will not only improve accuracy but can also help to reduce the volume of paperwork that is required to be processed.
- Rethink the busiest areas. In a warehouse it’s usually the pick and pack stations that tend to be the busiest and it’s often worth reassessing the way that they are functioning to see if there is any potential for improving efficiency. Are these stations set up in the most efficient way, free of clutter and designed as a productive workspace? Are there any additions that could be made to ensure that they run more smoothly?
- Design your storage to suit your products. If you’re trying to use a single storage media for a wide range of different product sizes and types this can lead to inefficiency and wasted space. Storage that accommodates variety leads to better utilisation.
- Introduce an inventory management system. If you’re still handling inventory management manually – or stuck with an out of date system – you will find it difficult to optimise operations.
- Maintain, reorganise and clean. Sometimes the simplest changes are the most effective, from cleaning work areas to better maintaining equipment and shelving, and removing clutter and disorganisation.
These are just a few of the ways in which it’s possible to improve warehouse operations to create more space and opportunity for greater efficiency and productivity.