Managing a warehouse is hard work, but it becomes even harder when you have inefficient inventory methods. This can take a toll on your productivity and make you run behind schedule. In turn, your employees are more frustrated and stressed as they try to keep up with the ever-growing work, only to fall behind schedule even more.
This quickly becomes a vicious cycle with seemingly no solution. The problem here is the organization itself.
You have to change at least some part of how you run your warehouse if you hope for better results.
1. Plan ahead
Without proper planning, you’ll be nowhere. How can you hope to be efficient when you take things only as they come? In this kind of business, it’s usually the case that some parts of the year are busier than others. That means that your first step is figuring out when the warehouse is at its busiest.
With e-commerce and individual sales, these periods can wary. If you’ve been running a warehouse for years, you surely have a track record of inventory which will show you when you’re busiest.
Of course, there are also cases when you can just expect more business because you made more business. All of these cases have something in common, though – you can plan for them. If a busy period is ahead, it’s your job to prepare your employees and come up with a game plan. Only with forecasting and planning can you hope to be as efficient as you wish.
2. Look into money saving options
Warehousing has been around for ages, meaning that there are definitely a lot of practices you can implement into your system. Innovation will be the key to running a well-oiled machine and being as efficient as you can be. Cross-docking is one method which can be hard to implement but is very rewarding.
If you’d rather choose something less challenging, you can easily go with wave picking. This option is most suitable for complex shipping systems where there is a lot of inventory to go through. Of course, it’s only possible when you adopt more advanced tracking methods. In other words, don’t shy away from technology.
There are also plenty of firms with their own stocking and organization ideas. So, if you’re not sure what system would work best for you, you can always ask for professional advice and turn to someone who’s been in the game for years.
3. Track your sellers
Because this is your warehouse, you have the absolute freedom to do with your inventory system what you want. With a new system, you’ll be able to track your sellers and packages instantly. After all, ID’s are necessary for this line of work when there’s too much to do.
This is why it’s a good idea to track and prioritize your sellers. If you have high sellers, make them a top priority. Store their goods in easy to pick locations and deliver them on even before the agreed time. This way you’ll stay on their good side, make them happy, and get even more work.
4. Train and retrain
Employers usually think that hiring more staff is more than enough in these situations. In reality, without proper training, you’ll just have a bunch of people running in circles around your warehouse and accomplishing absolutely nothing. This is why proper training courses are mandatory. New employees must know how to run the machines, how your system works, and where everything goes.
As far as the already established workforce goes, make sure their skills are refined. This means that a proper retraining session is due. Encouraging safe and responsible behaviour is necessary to ensure safety but also productivity.
This is why it’s shouldn’t be embarrassing for your employees to come to you and tell you they’re not sure how to do something. It’s much better for them, for you, and for the warehouse if they learn properly through courses than if they keep messing up. Not only is that risking injury, but it’s also putting you way behind schedule.
5. Keep your equipment up to date
Technology is always advancing, which means that you’ll run into newer pieces of equipment very often in the warehousing industry. Because the demands are getting bigger and changing how the industry functions due to e-commerce, you’ll find most equipment is semi-automated or automated.
Even opting for traditional and high-quality materials handling products will do you good, though. Your machines and equipment need to run smoothly and be able to keep up with your employees. You can’t do this with borrowed or second-hand stuff. The difference between having proper equipment is having six men work on a one-man job, or having six different people do six different jobs. What’s more efficient? You do the math.
6. Optimize the design
No warehouse has the same design. It’s completely up to you how the design is realized. The more convenient it is for your employees to get around, the quicker they’ll be done with work. Nowadays, narrower corridors and higher shelves are fairly popular. This allows employees to label the aisles and adequately and more accurately store goods.
One other way to think about your design is to divide it into processes. The stock flow between receiving, picking, and assembling should be uninterrupted. For that, you’ll need to consider every detail of your warehouse. How big are the items you’re working with? How much space do they need? Do you need to make room on the shelves prior to receiving them? These are all questions you should pay attention to.
As you can see, with the right tips, your efficiency and productivity can greatly improve. With the right tactic and methods, your employees will have all they need to be the most productive, happy, and efficient they’ve ever been at work. We’re confident that you’ll figure out the right way to make that happen, and that these tips will bring you much closer to running your warehouse like a well-oiled machine.