Orders to be pulled. Orders to be put away. Vendors backed up at the docks. The electrician is over there working on a problem with one of the charging stations. The life of a manager in a warehouse is one that requires the ability to wear many different hats at any given point in time. If only we could operate at a higher level of efficiency, you begin to say to yourself, most of these problems would not occur with such frequency.
There is an easier way, as these ten tips to improve your warehouse’s efficiency, if implemented, will show results. The reality is that if nothing else, a couple of these may be weak areas in your operation. Weak areas that can be turned around in a short time. Read on with an open-mind and see for yourself.
1. Better control of freight, both inbound and outbound
With a gradually declining profit margin, none of us have to be concerned with any other areas of improvement if action is not taken to turn around the profit line. The web is filled with creative solutions to the freight carrier dilemma, hiring a seasoned consultant brings in a fresh perspective.
2. Utilization of available space
Organization is key in any warehouse. Many times, warehouse management quickly comes to the conclusion that expansion is necessary due to increased inventory levels and projections. This is only a half-truth. Inventory your shelving and bins. Are they being utilized in the most efficient and effective ways? Are the bins for smaller items being used on the same shelving as the larger items that require a pallet? Is there room to go vertical?
3. Lean rather than bulk
Too many times warehouse managers prefer to try and hold as much inventory as possible. This creates challenges in many areas, including accurate inventories and pulling. Lean is more efficient than bulk. With a lean warehouse, it will be easier to hold, inventory, and pull the goods that matter.
4. Keep it simple
One puller is traveling from one end of the warehouse to the other to fill an order. An order for a customer that has been doing business for years. Too many steps. How can we improve this process? Fewer steps equals less time and better overall productivity. Did a new input/output process get implemented a few years ago? Are all of your employees on board and participating with this or do you have a few who refuse to change?
5. Improvements in inbound activity
The labor that is spent reworking goods that have come in with damaged packaging from vendors is cost inefficient. Some may say that is not the case, as we can charge the vendor back for these goods and the labor involved. Yet that is time wasted. Time that could be spent on more important issues of the day. Set standards with your inbound vendors. Thereby your, and your employees time, can be used where it matters most and not tied up in reworking and the subsequent paperwork and chargebacks.
6. Employee incentives
The one way to garner the attention of any employee is money. Collaborate with your peers to design an employee incentive program that is engineered to reward excellence, not mediocrity. Picking and packing is the largest percentage of warehouse work, so reward those who work at close to 100% productivity, and in turn watch the performance of some of the mediocre rise.
7. Your frontline managers should be hungry
If a frontline manager is complacent, you can expect mediocre performance and results. Not only from the manager, as some of their employees certainly will follow suit. After all, if he/she can get away with it, so can I. We are judged on our actions, not our intentions. See to it that your frontline managers are hungry for more. More in terms of performance, incentives, and promotions.
8. Communicate company and departmental goals down the organizational chart
When you communicate in a group and individual setting the goals and then follow that up with performance metrics it creates a workplace of accountability. If an employee is struggling, this can lead to better training.
9. Continuing to review
Those that are successful in business over long periods of time have one thing in common; constant reviews of where the company is, and where is the company headed. Communicate the goals and follow this up with progress reports. Give each employee the feeling that they are part of something much bigger than that repack they are working on.
10. Invest in a Newcastle Systems mobile powered workstation
Where do the majority of the shipping errors occur? Picking. Reduce these errors immediately by investing in a Newcastle Systems mobile powered workstation. Single line items, batch order picking, manual, RF picking, and “Pick & Pack”, Newcastle Systems has you covered with a solution to greatly reduce these costly errors and enable your staff to operate at a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness.