There are lots of articles with ideas and strategies on how to create a more efficient and profitable warehouse. In most cases the advice is solid, albeit typically predictable and redundant. So we created our own list of 27 warehouse efficiency tips that may not always make it onto the standard lists. Even though many of these suggestions are often overlooked, they may stimulate discussion among your team as to how your facility can go to the next level.
- You may not always need a larger facility to handle your increased business. To maximize your current location use vertical space and the right equipment to pick materials in the same square footage rather than incurring expansion costs.
- In order to optimize your picking process, be sure and keep in mind the 80/20 rule: Because it is likely that the majority of your orders come from 20% of your stock, remember to store and handle these products in the most efficient manner possible.
- Have workers benefit from operational mistakes. Completely document picking and packing processes that happen without errors so your team can adhere to them on future orders.
- Keep floors clean and free of clutter to cut down on accidents.
- Ensure that newly received items are consistently stored in the same warehouse location to ensure easy picking.
- In addition to identifying warehouse areas with numbers and letters, use images, colors, shapes, and other visual clues to reduce picker fatigue and help workers locate correct items on shelves.
- Increase picking productivity by creating “golden zones” or “hot zones” in the warehouse, where the fastest moving SKUs are slotted at levels that correspond to the waist-to-shoulder area of the average worker.
- Don’t contribute to inefficiency in the warehouse by sending pickers to product slots that are empty because your restocking system is slower than your workers. Feed your product locations via a replenishment system that automatically alerts workers to replenish items that are below a specified minimum level.
- Locate beside each other complementary products that are typically ordered together.
- Don’t stop training workers after they begin picking. Create regular business meetings so that all workers understand the negative impact of mistakes in your warehouse.
- The trend in B2C and B2B online ordering is more orders with fewer items. Supply chain executives would be well advised to address the impact of this trend that creates inefficiencies in the warehouse.
- Create “skin in the game” for your warehouse workers by creating or improving profit sharing programs. Work quality will improve and workers will become more accountable for their work.
- Analyze, analyze, analyze the data on your returned orders to identify where problems lie in your pick, pack, and ship system.
So there you have it. 13 often overlooked considerations for improving efficiency in your warehouse or distribution center. Have any best practices that we missed? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them added!