According to ShipNetwork, maintaining a consistent and uninterrupted supply chain is vital to support all logistics businesses. It’s necessary to ensure customers receive their orders sufficiently early and in good quality to boost satisfaction and brand reputation.
This can be achieved by refining operations through implementing methods and strategies that maximize space and productivity while reducing costs and time-consuming tasks.
Furthermore, operations can be enhanced when the workforce collaborates to review and suggest tips on what needs fixing. In the end, this could result in a warehouse that functions smoothly.
Here are six ways to improve warehouse operations:
1. Establish A Workflow
One of the best methods to make your warehouse run more efficiently is by organizing a workflow. This will ensure every activity, both incoming and outgoing, is processed using the same practices and guidelines.
This can be from management positions to laborers such as forklift operators and material handlers. Doing this also guarantees that your staff operates at the same production levels and adopts working habits that meet required daily outcomes.
Furthermore, a proper workflow will streamline time-consuming processes, such as case decanting, packing, and especially order picking with better speed and accuracy, while reducing operating costs.
With this, every employee will have a measurable performance to help you assess and audit whether your workflow strategy is benefitting warehouse operations and identify areas where adjustments need to be made.
2. Optimize Warehouse Layout
The design of your warehouse directly impacts worker productivity, safety, and the speed of your operations. Thus, an unsuitable layout plan can complicate inventory management and cause operational delays, accessibility issues, and shipping errors.
To avoid this, maximizing every inch of available space from floor to ceiling is essential. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to layout because warehouses come in different sizes and locations, there are a few efficiency-focused ideas you can implement to better organize your spatial planning and traffic flow. These include the following:
- Use blueprints to map out the warehouse, dividing up space and designating each section to an area of operations.
- Plan routes for on-foot and forklift workers to allow easier navigation of the space.
- Arrange aisles in height and length to reduce the distance of inventory and streamline order picking.
Furthermore, it’s ideal to keep the future growth of your warehouse and business in mind when designing or testing layout plans.
3. Continuously Train Your Staff
Warehouse workers are at the core of improving operations and thus need to have regular training while allowing for suggestions to foster inclusion, information sharing, and collaboration.
Furthermore, training is also necessary for employees to learn about the latest technology and how to implement them in the workflow strategy.
Another important training aspect that you should prioritize is safety training, as warehouses are prone to hazards and accidents that can injure workers, lowering morale and disrupting your supply chain operation.
Safety training can also empower workers by enabling them to identify safety issues and make informed decisions according to established protocols. Doing this can ensure daily operations and productivity levels remain constant.
4. Use The Correct Pallets
Choosing the right pallets for your warehouse and inventory can streamline the transportation and storage processes of your operations. The type of pallets suitable to your business will depend on your business budget and the goods you’re shipping.
The three main pallet materials utilized by warehouses are as follows:
- Wood: Pallets made of wood are a popular option because they’re affordable, recyclable, and easy to repair. They’re also versatile, with many designs to choose from. However, when exposed to moisture, wood pallets can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Plastic: Plastic pallets are lighter, easier to clean, and more durable than wood pallets. The downside is that they’re more expensive and not biodegradable.
- Metal: Of the three, the most durable material is metal because it’s able to withstand environmental pressure and changes during transport.
Whichever pallet material your warehouse settles on, be sure you have the right equipment to load and offload seamlessly.
5. Upgrade Existing Technology
Modern technology has helped logistics and supply chain businesses save time and labor costs by making it easier to manage inventory and daily procedures.
This includes software such as warehouse management systems (WMS) that track, monitor, automate, and record inventory at every stage, from storage to shipment.
It also provides accurate and real-time data so that if any errors occur, such as an incorrect package picked during order fulfillment, managers can intervene before it’s delivered.
On top of this are innovative technologies including collaborative robots, radio frequency identification (RFID), and the internet of things (IoT). RFID and IoT implementation in logistics can create an overall smart warehouse.
6. Implement The Lean Inventory Approach
Warehouses and manufacturers within a supply chain can benefit from adopting the lean inventory strategy. This approach aims to reduce waste, eliminate space shortage, and optimize inventory flow, time management, and cycle times. It involves systems, tools, and assessment of techniques to find the perfect balance and unity of order fulfillment.
One of the most efficient lean strategies for warehouse operations is focusing on demand management. This means acquiring the amount of inventory to meet the demand from customers placing orders and nothing more.
To achieve this successfully, warehouse managers need to analyze sale and demand cycles while receiving smaller quantities of supplies from manufacturers and wholesalers. Doing this can also help order pickers find inventory easier and provide your warehouse with more free space.
Improving warehouse operations consists of several strategies designed to make daily work more productive, consistent, and efficient. This includes optimizing and arranging available space to reduce delays while organizing a workflow for employees to follow.
It also involves training your staff to utilize new technology created to help them work faster and more accurately while staying safe at work. These approaches can assist your logistics business in successfully managing inventory and meeting your distribution needs.