If you’re a company that sells goods, you need a place to store and ship your products to customers from. Most of the time this will be a distribution center or warehouse. This makes the warehouse one of the most essential parts of your business, a crucial link in getting your products into the hands of your customers.
Frankly, your warehouse deals with a lot. There are many challenges warehouse managers face such as seasonal demand changes, overcoming redundancies, and inefficiencies in space utilization and organization of products. In this article we’ll discuss five of the best practices for running a warehouse and how they can improve the overall running of your business.
Five Best Practices
There are endless ways to improve operations within a warehouse and ultimately change will take time and require constant supervision and adjustments, but we guarantee that it will be worth it. Our top five recommendations are the following:
- Be consistent in organization
- Check in with your workers
- Use automation to your advantage
- Optimize for accuracy
- Invest in tech that grows with you
Be consistent in your organization
Everyone knows the feeling of coming home to a messy house and tripping over the clutter that seems to grow overnight. The same can happen in a warehouse that doesn’t prioritize organizational systems. You can expect inefficiencies, inaccurate inventory counts, and safety issues for workers arising from a messy warehouse, so disorganization is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Incorporating a consistent system of bins and locations is crucial for addressing these issues. The organizational system should be well communicated and understood by all warehouse employees. Additionally, the organization of the warehouse should be reassessed several times per year to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies within the layout.
Check in with your workers
Regardless of department, position, or experience held, all employees will have a different perspective of the warehouse operations. Deeply listening to all employees and understanding their pain points is indispensable information. Additionally, crowd-sourced solutions are more likely to be readily incorporated by employees for the improvement of the warehouse operations.
An essential part of being clued into what your employees' needs and feedback is to have a presence on the premises, someone who thoroughly understands the warehouse flow and can monitor processes and look for ways to improve while listening for employee feedback. This, along with creating environments where employees can give feedback, is very important.
Use automation to your advantage
On the surface, incorporating automation into your existing warehouse may seem too time consuming, expensive, or like it won’t be the right fit. Today, automating repetitive and dull tasks is relatively inexpensive, reduces inefficiencies, and takes some of the weight off warehouse workers.
Some ERPs or WMS systems have automation built-in to their software. Common automations include label printing, smart pick and pack, and custom business rules. Finding software that has integrated automations which would benefit your warehouse is a great and simple practice.
Optimize for accuracy
Increasingly, warehouses are pressured to move as many products as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this has a negative impact on the accuracy of the orders fulfilled. This is becoming a main reason for customers returning items, which is an expensive and relationship damaging trend. Optimizing accuracy for every single order will improve your warehouse operations and help build long-term relationships with customers.
Optimizing for accuracy can be as simple as implementing a quality control (QC) program for your outgoing shipments. Having a QC program in place with well-trained employees will significantly reduce shipping inaccuracies.
Invest in tech that grows with you
Like automation, investing in warehouse technology may seem too expensive. Similarly, however, investing in technology is one of the most dependable ways to improve your warehouse. Implementing cloud WMS or ERP software is some of the most impactful and inexpensive tech. In addition to reducing overall costs, cloud software can improve communication across multiple locations and allow for the analysis of real-time data all in one centralized system.
Warehouses of all sizes face challenges. The difference between top performing warehouses and others is an ability to adapt to changing circumstances and create actionable steps for improvement.
We hope that this article is helpful for your business and sparks ideas for improving your operations. If you would like to learn more about iDrive’s solutions and how they can help your business, reach out on LinkedIn or through our website.
We look forward to hearing from you!