When a business sells and/or stores physical products, they need a warehouse where they can store those products ready to be shipped to customers as needed. This sounds simple enough, but managing a warehouse is not as straightforward as many people assume, and there is plenty of potential for wasted resources and reduced revenue if efficiency is lacking. To maximize efficiency in a warehouse, it is important to balance practicality and optimized working practices with technology. These tips will help you to transform your warehouse into a well-oiled machine leading to less wasted resources and, in many cases, increased productivity.
Make the most of your space
The more space you have, the more product you can stock, which can lead to greater revenue. While it is not always affordable or practical to expand the warehouse’s footprint, it is usually possible to make better use of the vertical space by installing taller storage facilities and investing in equipment to help staff reach the higher levels. It is also a good idea to vary the types of storage that you have for different product sizes. For example, multiples of very small items could be stored in a container rather than taking up space on deep shelves or pallet racks. The tidier your warehouse, the more space you will have at your disposal.
Follow the lean warehousing principle
Lean warehousing, lean inventory, or warehouse optimization is a principle embraced by warehouses, logistics companies, and manufacturing businesses all over the world, which is testament to its potential. In simple terms, it means operating only with what you absolutely need and getting rid of any unnecessary items. For example, some businesses insist on keeping lots of the same product in their warehouse as a backup, but this takes up valuable space that could be put to better use.
Technology has the potential to transform the way a warehouse operates. A warehouse management system (WMS), for example, can improve efficiency by calculating the best picking plans and routes to help your staff become more productive. It can also generate automated picking lists that can be read on mobile devices, so you do not need to print lists or travel to and from a central computer screen. Radio frequency identification (RFID) readers or barcode systems can significantly improve accuracy by reducing the opportunity for human errors.
Keep all workstations tidy and organized
The more organized and tidier that a workspace is, the more efficiently your staff will be able to work. When they do not have to spend time searching for the right documents or tools because they are all kept in a designated space within easy reach, staff can complete their tasks much quicker and are less likely to make mistakes.
Streamline picking plans
Ideally, you will have a WMS that will automatically work out the best picking plans for your staff, but if this is not the case, you will need to create them for yourself. To do this in the most effective way possible, you will need to analyze current patterns to identify bottlenecks or snags in the process. You can then arrange your warehouse so that the most commonly purchased items are located close together and nearer to the front of the space.