Identifying waste in a warehouse is the first step to eliminating it. Improving profits and staff moral can result from simple steps – Don’t delay reorganise your warehouse processes and layouts today.
When orders are sent out on time and customers are happy, it’s easy to assume a company is efficient – but it’s amazing how many little tweaks can be made to make a big positive impact to an organisation’s bottom line. Good warehouse efficiency is not only about putting everything in its place and getting products out on time, it’s about maximising productivity while saving time and money. Some practices like labelling are intuitive and can be done without the use of software. Others like barcodes, scanners, and RFID systems are all part of warehouse and inventory management systems such as cloud WMS solutions that focus on monitoring the flow of products and enhancing accuracy with software. Looking at how you can reorganise your Warehouse to maximise these solutions is the 1st step in achieving a healthier bottom line.
It’s a well-known fact that improving efficiency reduces overall costs. Despite this, so many companies haven’t yet made the small changes necessary to improve this. Don’t be one of them!
Whether you have a multi-channel warehouse or a small warehouse, don’t delay – reorganise your warehouse by making some simple changes will not only improve workplace efficiency but also customer satisfaction. Here are some helpful tips for improving a warehouse’s performance that can be applied to any warehouse operation.
Maximise and optimise warehouse space.
Rather than expand the footprint of your warehouse, consider better use of vertical space. Adding taller storage units and the right equipment to pick and store material can help you keep more in the same square footage, rather than adding expansion costs. In addition, think about the type and variety of shelving used and reorganise your warehouse layout. Storing small items on pallet racks wastes space and makes it easy to misplace items. Rather than using the same racks throughout your warehouse, you may need various types of shelving for different materials. Also, try using standardised bins to help keep shelves neat and orderly.
Keep your inventory lean.
Adopting lean inventory for your warehouse is just as important as it is in manufacturing. The basic premise of lean is only what you need, and nothing more. Possibly reduce or eliminate safety stocks and try to get suppliers to deliver smaller quantities more frequently. Introducing or updating a WMS system will ensure you always have the right stock levels with no wastage.
Explore latest technologies
A warehouse management system (WMS) or an ERP system with a strong WMS module can improve efficiency by suggesting the best routes and methods for picking or put-away. In addition, the system provides automated pick lists that can be sent to mobile readers and devices to help eliminate mistakes and reduce wasted time and paper. Your warehouse will be neater and greener. Using barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) readers can improve accuracy of transactions and reduce picking errors.
Reorganise your warehouse by organising workstations – that in turn will improves productivity because workers do not have to search for tools or equipment. Use the “5S” method from lean manufacturing to ensure your workstations are as organised as possible. It consists of: Sort; Set in order; Shine; Standardise; and Sustain — all techniques designed to keep clutter at bay, reduce errors, and improve safety and organisation.
Optimise labour efficiency.
If your WMS doesn’t have the ability to generate efficient picking plans, create them manually. Analyse your material usage patterns, and store high-volume items together near the front of the warehouse to eliminate travel time. Also, reorganise your warehouse by storing items that are frequently sold together near one another. Basically, you will streamline operations if you try to keep the items you pick most often in the most accessible locations to eliminate picking delays.
Keep you employees informed
You can’t improve something you haven’t measured. Does your operation capture and manage critical KPIs? Do you know your critical productivity and costs on shipped orders, cost per box and cost per line shipped? How can we assess and put in place cost reduction measures if we don’t know the baseline? What do various types of errors cost? What do returns cost?
Once these things are established, THEN create regular feedback to the employees on individual and departmental performance. They’ll respond and give you higher productivity.
Develop more effective frontline managers
Effective managers know it’s all about execution. Their ability to efficiently manage all aspects of fulfilment radically affects your costs, worker morale and the quality of customer order fulfilment. What are their individual needs? What exposure to other aspects of your business will help them understand your merchandise, your customers and vendors? What training resources are available online or locally?
Explore voice-enabling technology
Some vendors reduced the costs to make this technology available to all different sized businesses. Voice enabling can be applied to all processes and departments – from receiving to shipping and returns – for better inventory control and increased productivity. These systems have quick install times, require no IT or modifications to your WMS, don’t require extensive training and have a fast ROI – as quickly as four to six months. Do your due diligence though, because not all voice applications are created equal.
Consider 3rd party fulfilment
Third party fulfilment (3PF) isn’t for everyone. Many of our clients believe they can do fulfilment cheaper and with higher quality themselves. However, we have seen good experiences from 3PF at costs competitive with internal costs. Using a 3PF partner means capital isn’t tied up in new facilities and systems. For smaller companies 3PF lets management concentrate on marketing and merchandising functions essential to sustain growth. When you need to increase warehousing, storage or order throughput, look at 3PF as an option.
Continuous improvement process.
Great merchants and marketers measure everything and do post mortems of their promotions and results. Do an assessment. Work out a plan. Set objectives and accountability for improvement, review progress and start again.
Improving warehouse efficiency is as much about common sense and the right storage equipment as it is about fancy picking algorithms. Follow these simple steps and watch your efficiency soar.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.