Warehouses that lack operational efficiency risk more than most businesses realize. Employee morale, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, the bottom line all suffer when businesses fail to recognize warehouse efficiency. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average U.S. warehouse wastes 6.9 weeks per year on unnecessary motion. This costs the industry $4.3 billion, or 265 million hours of labor annually. These numbers are staggering and improving operational efficiency is the only way to ensure your business doesn’t fall within this industry trend. Luckily, there are several tips that you can use to quickly and easily improve the efficiency of your warehouse.
Workflow & Layout Design Tips
The following tips improve operational efficiency by optimizing the layout of your warehouse and guaranteeing best practices when it comes to workflow.
1: Optimize Space Utilization – Without Expanding or Relocating
Expanding warehouse space or relocating entirely aren’t the only two options available to growing businesses. Rather than the added costs of increasing the warehouse capacity, businesses can instead capitalize on the existing layout available. Make better use of vertical space by adding taller storage units and choosing suitable picking equipment that requires less space. If the wrong type of shelf is used for storing materials, space that could otherwise be valuable for production is wasted.
2: Consider Storage to Reduce Damage and Loss
Managing inventory is crucial because inventory often represents a large value to the business. As a result, it must be carefully stored to avoid damage and loss. Make it as easy and safe as possible for staff to access stock and pick orders to increase your warehouse output. Try reducing the manual handling of your product, dedicating specific locations for each product, and having clear location labeling to ensure accurate order picking. In addition, choose a suitable storage solution to reduce product damage and increase performance.
3: Integrate Packing & Shipping Stations
Traditionally, warehouses have different packing and shipping stations. Typically, the order comes first to the packing station, and then is sent to the shipping station. In reality, there is no reason why these two tasks can’t be integrated. The benefits of combining these two tasks include using less labor, streamlining the fulfillment process and freeing up warehouse space to handle more volume.
Safety Improvement Tips
The following tips will help to improve the safety of your workforce while ensuring process improvement, as well.
1: Conduct an Audit
The truth is that it’s impossible to improve upon something that you haven’t really studied. Review your current warehouse operations and determine if you are using your available resources in the best possible way. Does the workflow make sense? Any inefficiencies will impact negatively throughout the whole process, from warehouse to customer. It is common that when one thing needs fixing, the entire workflow needs to be rebuilt. Analyze your current operations and pinpointing and smoothing out the speed bumps will become much easier.
2: Use Proper Labeling
An informative label makes all the difference. A well-run warehouse uses labels to mitigate inefficiencies and ensure no product is lost. No matter what type of inventory control system your business uses, all labels should include some basic pieces of information. Labels might include the name of the supplier, the associated purchase order number, the pallet label and quantity, the case label and quantity, the product number, the description, the package count, and the SKU. Labels like this ensure the safety of the product coming into your warehouse.
3: Maintain Your Warehouse Equipment
This may seem like common sense, however, equipment maintenance is commonly overlooked. Regular maintenance for lift trucks and other everyday equipment is necessary for operations to run smoothly. Equipment that breaks down during use is a waste of time and money. Try implementing a rotating schedule to pull machinery out for maintenance. With regular maintenance, you will save the cost of calling for emergency repairs or replacing a piece of equipment. Not to mention, it ensures a safe workplace for your employees.
Specialized Storage Can Help Your Business
Improving the operational efficiency of your warehouse guarantees the health and safety of your business in this everchanging market. Using the tricks outlined above, you can be sure your business continues to satisfy customers and your bottom line continues to grow. With the right storage partner, you can optimize the efficiency of your business even more. Our experts can assess your warehouse space while learning about your business’s unique needs, and generate a unique warehouse layout design tailored specifically to maximize your operations. So, if you want to learn more about our custom warehouse storage solutions, contact our team today!