According to a report from Motorola released in October 2013, warehouses have traditionally been underleveraged when it comes to companies looking for ways to increase profits and stand out from the competition.
However, smart companies are beginning to look at new ways to increase their warehouse efficiency. In the face of a challenging economy, companies are realizing they need to transform their warehouses to maximize their investments, maintain top-notch customer service and cope with an ever-changing landscape of new regulations, revenue fluctuations and client demands.
Technology will play a significant role in transforming warehouses going forward, but warehouse-efficiency solutions go beyond technological advancements. Consider some of these following methods for improving your storage and fulfillment center’s function.
Optimize the Picking Path
Ideally, when your employees pick orders, they should quickly and efficiently locate items in the warehouse, beginning in one area and ending at the packing or wrapping staging area without having to backtrack or search for items. To accomplish this, carefully assess the warehouse’s layout and your pickers’ typical movements. Adjusting the placement of items can minimize the time spent picking orders, allowing the warehouse to process more tickets each day. Use storage solutions that make it easier for pickers to locate and process orders quickly.
Analyze Your Orders Regularly
Maintaining an efficient warehouse is not a “one-and-done” proposition. You must constantly analyze orders and shipments to determine whether your warehouse arrangement is still effective. In many cases, 20 percent of your items comprise 80 percent of your sales; therefore, you need to create a “warehouse within a warehouse” to make picking those items faster. Make adjustments to that area on a regular basis.
Install Floor Scales
There’s an old adage that a safe operation is an efficient operation, and part of maintaining a safe operation is reducing the likelihood of injuries caused by lifting. Installing drum scales and industrial weighing systems can reduce the chance of employees being injured while lifting heavy items — and make it easier to weigh bulk or oversized items before shipping. When you aren’t spending time lifting heavy objects onto scales — which must be done slowly as to avoid injury – the speed of your order processing improves.
Use Sequencing Software or Methodology
One of the best ways to maximize your warehouse’s efficiency is to take advantage of software that will automatically sequence your orders so they are picked in the proper arrangement. While picking and packing orders in the order they are printed in will certainly get the job done, sequencing methodologies such as using manifests to pick several small orders from the same area at once or saving the most difficult orders for last can get everything out the door as quickly as possible.
Limit Packaging Options
It seems simple, but limiting your packing options to two or three carton sizes can significantly improve warehouse efficiency. Not only will it reduce your packing material and freight costs, but when workers aren’t faced with endless packing dilemmas, they can quickly get each order ready to ship. In some cases, you may need to keep a few custom options on hand, but in most cases you can ship most of your products in a standard-sized container.
As technology improves, and new applications and programs hit the market, warehouse managers will be faced with many new options for maximizing efficiency. By making simple changes now, your warehouse will be well positioned to take advantage of those new advances going forward.
Warehouse photo by Photoraidz from freedigitalphotos.net
Box photo by satit_srihin from freedigitalphotos.net