Gaining Efficiencies in the Warehouse
The sentiment – efficiency can make the difference between profit and loss, growth or stagnation – is true in almost all industries, and perhaps none more so than in the warehouse. An efficient warehouse can help you reduce costs, increase profits, and exceed customer expectations. Because gaining efficiencies in the warehouse can make such an impact, there are many areas of improvement to consider as well as a myriad of resources available. We have assembled some of these tips and resources here to help make gaining efficiencies in your warehouse easier.
Areas of Improvement to Consider
Gaining efficiency in a warehouse is a continuous effort to reduce waste, sustain growth, and improve productivity. Fortunately, there are many areas in which to make improvements in the warehouse such as:
There are many different space configurations for a warehouse. The configurations can be as unique as the companies that own them. You have to consider your warehouse needs to determine if you are allowing for maximum use of the available space. You will want to ensure your more commonly picked items are near the front and/or are easily accessible. You will want to consider storing items that are often sold together near one another as well as storing items of a similar size and shape on the same racks. Additionally, you will want to review your layout periodically as your inventory may change.
Benchmarking and KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) help provide measurement toward specific business goals and provide an early warning system if your warehouse is failing to these established goals. KPIs are more than just an inventory number. It is important to take the time to establish your warehouse’s important KPIs and develop a plan to meet those goals.
Improving inventory management so that you do not end up with excessive product, or a product shortage is one of the key areas to consider to gain efficiency. As inventory is a liquid situation with needs and priorities changing continuously, the only way to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and productivity, is through automation. A warehouse management system (WMS) allows you to automate improving inventory management and increasing warehouse efficiency.
Employee Training and Safety
Your warehouse may use AI, automation, and other new technologies, but chances are it is not 100% technology run. There is still a human factor to consider. To ensure your warehouse is as efficient as it can be, you need to ensure all employees are trained properly, and are operating in a safe manner at all times.
Resources to Help Gain Efficiencies in the Warehouse
Just as there are a variety of areas in which you can work to improve the efficiency of your warehouse, there are many great resources available to help improve warehouse efficiency. As each warehouse has different challenges, each solution, or resource, may not fit every need. However, we have collected a few resources that cover different situations, as well as some that can be applied (almost) universally.
HighJump offers an eBook: Gaining Efficiencies Within The Warehouse that goes into greater detail about:
- Effective space utilization
- Defining your order profiles
- Finding a picking method
- Shipping made simple
For more on improving efficiency with barcode technology and well-organized data management within the warehouse, we suggest downloading Insight Works’ white paper: Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync.
Lanham Associates offers a variety of white papers including one titled, The First Steps to Achieving Effective Inventory Control.
We also have recorded several warehouse-focused webinars including one co-hosted with WithoutWire in which we discuss the efficiencies gained with real-time reporting, barcoded mobility, and other technology. WithoutWire also a white paper going into more detail about the impact of mobile in the inventory management industry entitled: Efficient Inventory Operations Using Mobile Technology.
Ensuring your warehouse is an efficient one can be the lynchpin in ensuring your company remains profitable. For more on how to improve efficiency in your warehouse, be sure to subscribe to our quarterly manufacturing newsletter where we cover current warehousing trends.