In the warehouse and logistics industries, productivity is king. Every step of every process can be broken down and measured to ensure that the client is getting the most for their investment, the customer is happy with the products they receive and the warehouse staff are reaching their maximum potential.
At least, all these factors should be measureable and regularly checked. In the increasingly analytical, technical world of today, any company not hitting all cylinders will soon be left behind for a more efficient alternative.
In order to help your warehouse reach its full potential and keep up in the fast-paced world, we broke the method of becoming a warehouse efficiency master down into six simple steps.
With the prevalence of eCommerce and an increasingly competitive logistics community, warehouses are becoming more important than ever. The most innovative warehouse managers are usually the ones who benefit most from this, as they are willing to embrace change and take full advantage of new opportunities.
This has created a new way of thinking in the warehouse industry as well as creating new technologies that seem to be constantly improving. Automation, warehouse management systems, mobile workstations, improved tracking and scanning equipment are all signs of the direction in which our industry is headed, and it is important to anticipate what is coming next.
Unfortunately, that is where things can become difficult. While we can certainly read the tea leaves and tell that the times are changing, no one can say for sure what the future holds. However, there are some a few proven techniques that can help any warehouse manager creative a more productive environment while also being prepared for the changes that are certain to come.
In these steps, we have blended the tried and true techniques of yesterday and today with the concepts that are sure to revolutionize the warehouse world of tomorrow. So without further ado, here are six steps that will help you become a warehouse efficiency master.
1. Establish and Understand Your Goals
This may sound like the simplest thing in the world, but it is amazing how many warehouses simply strive to meet an unending series of seemingly meaningless metrics. Analytics and accurate measurements of productivity are obviously crucial to an efficient warehouse, but they are useless if they do not clearly impact what you hope to achieve. Not only that, they can get in the way if employees are constantly straining to meet metrics that do not ultimately impact the bottom line.
KPI’s could be different from business to business, and it is important to set clear and concise goals before you start determining them. Once you have established what goals will help your warehouse reach its maximum potential, decide which key metrics you will measure performance by, what is your baseline for these metrics and what your target is.
2. Look At the Big Picture
If you have set clear goals and measurements for your warehouse, you will next want to establish how to reach those goals. It is important here to look at the big picture and remember that every aspect of your warehouse affects every other aspect of it. Do not go overboard with micro-managing every department and allowing goals to be set for receiving that do not help-- or could possibly even hurt-- picking or shipping.
You want to set individual performance metrics for each branch of the business to run at peak performance, but you need to take a holistic approach and ensure that all aspects of the warehouse are smoothly flowing towards your overall goals.
3. Be Open-Minded
The best warehouses are the ones that are willing to embrace new strategies and technologies. Those who are content with the status quo will quickly find themselves left in the dust of the increasingly fast pace of this industry.
Always be looking for ways to improve productivity and willing to try new technologies that could put you a step ahead of the competition. Technology is quickly revolutionizing the industry, and the improvements come faster than most can keep up. Always be looking to upgrade and take advantage of any opportunity to get better.
4. Listen to Those Who Do the Job
No one knows what would help warehouse productivity more than the people who actually work in the warehouse. Ask your employees to start thinking about improvements and have regular meetings to review procedures and discuss ideas. Not only are these people experts in their work who are likely to have great ideas, asking them for these ideas is a great way to get them more engaged in what they do.
People will be much more excited about working on processes that they have contributed to than simply going about the business as usual, and they will continue to seek more ways to improve these processes.
5. Create a Productive Culture
The culture you establish within your warehouse will determine every aspect of how it performs. You will want a company that is creative, interesting and fun. The leaders in just about every modern industry quickly establish these types of environments within their companies, because it has a positive impact on the bottom line.
In addition to asking your employees for new ideas, create additional ways for them to be engaged in their work. Monthly competitions, company events and other concepts that create a more interesting and fun environment will only have a positive impact on your warehouse.
6. Be Prepared to Change
With all that being said, be ready to throw it all out the window if the evidence is clear enough. Many warehouse managers get stuck to old procedures that worked in the past but offer no chance of significant improvement. If all the evidence points to the direction of change, it’s probably time to change. Be flexible and ready to adapt to new procedures, techniques and technologies as they emerge.