by Kyla Camille Nievera, Negosentro.com | Many warehouse operators assume that their warehouses are well organized as long as the products are delivered to customers on time. Timely delivery is not synonymous with efficiency. Sometimes pickers discover damaged and expired products when it is already too late. Without an efficient system of managing orders, it is impossible to keep track of every batch that is received or delivered. If you manage or run a large warehouse, you have an idea of the time and effort required to keep it running smoothly. Here are some tips that will help you streamline operations in your warehouse.
1. Organize Products Systematically
How long does it take your pickers or material handlers to access products in your warehouse? The period depends on the level of organization in your warehouse. The first step to improving operations is organizing all stored products in a systematic manner. Before you purchase or bring in new products, check what is already in store. No matter how small the warehouse is, you can organize all products in different categories. If you only handle one type product, organize the batches based on the production or purchase dates. If your customers order some products in groups or batches, organize the products in such groups immediately when they are received. Do not allow the handlers to store new products anyhow with a promise of organizing them later. You will end up with a disorganized warehouse with such an approach.
2. Analyze and Improve Your Pick Process
The disorganization in your warehouse may be the result of an inefficient pick process. You can save costs in your business by improving your pick process. Again, just because your customers are not complaining of delays does not mean that your warehouse is efficient. You can reduce the back and forth movements by ordering products in batches. By analyzing your sales, you can tell how often your repeat customers order products. Instead of picking products for each order, organize the pick process in a way that all the orders for a week or even a month are processed at once.
3. Know Your Technology and Software Options
Sequencing orders and processes in your warehouse may be tedious when done manually. You can improve operations by investing in the right technology and software. For instance, instead of trying to sequence orders manually, you can use CMMS software to organize the orders. You have a variety of technology options to choose from for inventory control, assigning tasks, bar coding, and pick to label among others. You do not need all the programs in the market to keep your warehouse running. Identify the software that will work for your warehouse and implement it immediately.
4. Assess Quality Control Measures
Many warehouse managers discover damaged or wrong products when processing customer orders. Packers rarely have enough time to assess all the products that are received in the warehouse. Their tasks revolve around lifting and transporting batches of products. Some operators prefer to inspect goods when purchasing or receiving them from suppliers. You can tell if your current quality control measures are effective by the reports of damaged or wrong products received. Assign quality control to specific employees instead of assuming that all the handlers will inspect the products. The quality control team should inspect new and stored products consistently. You can reduce the losses incurred because of purchasing wrong or damaged items with strict quality control measures.
5. Check for Hazards Consistently
Is your warehouse safe for your staff members and products? It is so easy to focus on a smooth flow of products in and out of the warehouse that you forget about safety. Inspect the warehouse consistently for hazards that may affect your employees’ health or damage products. Do not rely on old reports and assume that the warehouse is safe. Inspect the material handling equipment to ensure that they are functioning properly. Consider replacing old equipment to protect your employees. Check the roof for leakages and walls for cracks. Ensure that your employees are trained on how to handle the equipment in your warehouse and any dangerous products. Buy protective gear for them depending on the type of products that they handle.
6. Train Your Employees
Improving efficiency goes beyond investing in the latest warehouse technologies and software. You can use CMMS software to improve efficiency in assigning tasks and processing orders, among other activities. However, you need competent employees who will ensure that all systems run smoothly. For smooth operations, you need employees who can handle more than one task. Allocate time and resources to training employees on organizational skills, handling different products, safety, and equipment handling. You will not always be there to inspect operations at the warehouse. Operations will run smoothly and efficiently in your absence if you pass your organizational skills to your staff.
7. Reduce the Number of Shipping Cartons or Boxes
Packing processes in a warehouse are easier and faster with fewer shipping cartons. You can have two or three cartons with different capacities and a few custom sizes for your repeat customers. Evaluate the size of the shipping cartons as well. If the size is larger than necessary, consider packing products in smaller boxes. Large boxes take up much space in the warehouse. You will also reduce freight expenses by reducing the size of shipping boxes or cartons. Again, this will depend on the type of products. The packaging must meet industrial standards and requirements.
Sometimes improving operations in a warehouse requires that you reorganize everything and introduce new systems. If you have been relying on manual systems, shifting to the latest management systems and programs will make a huge difference. You must be careful to select technologies that will work for your type of products, warehouse size, and level of activity. In addition, your plan to improve operations in your warehouse must include and involve your staff members. Ensure that your staff is properly trained on all new systems, handling new equipment, and warehouse safety. Evaluate the quality control measures to reduce the losses related to damaged products or wrong purchases. Smooth operations in a warehouse do not only reduce costs and losses, but also lead to faster deliveries to clients. You will improve relationships with your clients by delivering all orders on time and in good condition.