6 August, 2013
When it comes to running a warehouse effectively, organization is the key. Everything from employee procedures to inventory listings must be up-to-date and closely followed by everyone involved. However, there are different organizational elements that are important to the productivity of a warehouse such as building layout, paying attention to details, and having suitable computer software. Together these all make a world of difference.
In order to be extremely efficient, you need to utilize every inch of your space. You can start by developing a basic map of your warehouse and list where all the important functions are being carried out as well as storage spaces that are available. The spaces where you handle receiving, shipping, packing, and returns need to work well together, which means that you should be storing goods according to priority or frequency of use.
Building and facility management software can help plan the layouts to increase efficiency. You need to find new ways to increase the activity flow and accuracy on any orders. This can be difficult to do if your warehouse has been laid out the same way for a few years. People hesitate to change things that have been around long enough to be considered status quo. However, when you want to tighten things up in the warehouse, you need to be willing to change and reorganize.
Pay Attention to Detail
Any errors or unsafe practices that happen inside the warehouse, no matter how small, can really hurt productivity because you will need to go back and correct the issue. The best way to limit these errors is to have a process that pays attention to details and holds someone accountable for the task. Ideally, this should lead to the kind of preventative maintenance that improves, rather than limits, overall efficiency.
For instance, when a shipment is received, a specific person should be counting pallets and doing an inventory check to ensure everything is there before signing it off. Mistakes can be made anywhere, including shipping the wrong amount of an item to someone or sending to the wrong location. Inventory mistakes can be extremely problematic, and overworked employees can easily miss those important details. You need to have the tools and process to manage all your accounting, purchasing, and filing claims with suppliers as efficiently as possible.
The Right Software for the Right Job
Technology is something that is often both under-utilized and over-utilized in a warehouse environment. The key to effectively implementing management software is to make sure everyone is using it. If someone takes inventory out of the warehouse without marking it down in the program, any number of problems can crop up because there are a lot of people who depend on having accurate numbers.
Warehouses can use dedicated programs for fleet management to monitor all the vehicles that are responsible for shipping, and maintenance procedures can be tracked by managers to make sure that everything from oil changes, tire rotations, and other important work is being done.
In order to keep a warehouse running smoothly, a lot of elements have to work together. You should include your employees in your decisions, take a look at all the collected data before making workflow decisions, and make sure everyone is using the available tools. In the end, you’ll be able to maximize efficiency and improve organization.