How to improve warehouse efficiency?
Statistics say that warehouse employees undertake some form of dangerous activity. A staggering 20,000 workers get injured in accidents while handling forklifts alone. What do these figures point out? Inefficient warehouse operations are executed through poorly maintained equipment, cluttered floor layouts, and the absence of standardized processes and procedures. The result is that workers spend most of their time sorting through the items, cleaning the mess, and falling short of being productive. Three things are critical for warehouses to operate with maximum efficiency: neatly organized floor layouts, optimized workflows, the adoption of technology, and automated processes. Before we list ways and means to improve warehouse efficiency, let's quickly read how warehouses benefit from staying efficient.
Here are some of the benefits of a highly efficient warehouse:
Sharp increase in profits - By automating and trimming down specific steps in the day-to-day process, you see an increase in productivity, reduced downtime, and improved profits.
Happy Workers - Workers complete the tasks efficiently without confusion or struggle and contribute confidently.
Happy Customers - A warehouse with accurate inventory tracking never runs out of stock and meets customers’ needs on time. Thus, an efficient warehouse wins customer loyalty and attracts repeat orders.
Streamlined Operations - When the warehouse is organized correctly, it becomes easy for workers to process the orders in quick succession, also taking the utmost care of the goods from damage. No chaos!
By now, you should have understood the significance of running an efficient warehouse and how you benefit from it. But how you get to that stage is something that you will be reading below.
You would have emphasized warehouse productivity to your team several times. It is not hard-to-achieve unless the top leadership equips workers with the tools or drivers needed to stay productive.
Here we outline 7 ways to improve warehouse efficiency
1. Accurate Inventory Tracking
One of the pressing issues warehouses face is overstocking and understocking. You can tackle it only by incorporating a foolproof inventory tracking system on the floor. Stock trackers on the floor must be given proper inventory tracking devices to identify excess stock, remove it and allocate space for on-demand inventory based on customer demands. On the other hand, poor tracking means items go off the shelf without a record.
When the inventory tracked is accurate, you can plan your future orders and keep fulfilling them by ensuring supplies are in stock.
2. Organize the layout
Have a well-planned layout for the floor space. Make the navigation easier for your workers with clearly earmarked areas dedicated to different processes. A clutter-free pathway also means that your equipment has less wear and tear. It is better to have the picking path on one end of the floor space that systematically leads to the area dedicated to wrapping the items. Give ample space between workstations so that you reduce unnecessary crossover and chaos. Integrate the workstation with communication tools to ensure hassle-free communication.
3. Hear from Employees
There’s no better person than your employees to provide valuable feedback on productivity improvements. Figure out what is letting them down and what can inspire them to do more. Get their insights on improving warehouse efficiency as they know the pros and cons of the existing warehouse management system. This exercise keeps your employees motivated as they get the impression that their views are heard in the warehouse. From the management perspective, the objective of such an activity is to zero in on the shortcomings and address other productivity-slowing factors.
4. Impart Proper Training
Training and cross-training your warehouse workers are essential to achieving high productivity levels. Be it managers, supervisors, or forklift drivers, everybody in the work ecosystem must be trained to complete their jobs on time and in a safe manner. Most importantly, floor supervisors must know how to manage the workers assigned to them for different activities. Foster a culture that encourages workers to ask questions and clarify their doubts then and there.
Cross-training the team to undertake different tasks is essential in a warehouse management setup. The benefit of cross-training is that instead of entirely relying on one resource for a particular job, you can have a set of employees ready to take up the same job in the absence of the original resource.
5. Keep a tab on Performance
Regarding warehouse management, there are four key performance indicators (KPIs) that shed light on the efficiency of warehouse operations. The question of how to improve warehouse management depends on how the warehouse has fared in these metrics. They are
- Accuracy of inventory
- Efficiency in picking and packing
- Time taken to fulfil orders
- Time taken to unload, check and organize inventory
Tracking these indicators will help you identify the areas that need attention, monitor the progress of various processes, and see if productivity goals are met. Make sure all key stakeholders (including employees) have access to these metrics, so they can get a first-hand account of where overall productivity stands. Pay them monthly or weekly bonuses to make them do better and keep them motivated.
6. Keep your warehouse equipment in proper shape
Remember that all warehouse equipment, like forklifts, lift trucks, etc., needs regular maintenance. Poorly maintained equipment increases the risk of untoward incidents and injuries on the floor. Equipment failure results in unnecessary downtime. Even a minute of downtime can cost the management thousands of dollars. Instead, you can invest in periodic maintenance and ensure the equipment is up and running and available for your workers all the time.
Therefore, to improve warehouse efficiency, management must introduce operational changes, adopt technology into its day-to-day functioning, and invest in safety measures. The combined outcome of all these efforts can be noticed in increased productivity, better asset management, proper inventory tracking, and more cost-effective deliveries.
Explore bMobile’s warehouse management solution and contact us at +1 (888) 900-5667 for more details.
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