Improving Warehouse Efficiency

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The warehouse is the manufacturer’s lifeline to the rest of the world. Manufacturers ship their products and components all around the globe. But if their warehouse is riddled with errors that slows down their progress, their business ultimately will suffer. Ensuring the warehouse is running as efficient as possible will help to secure your place in the increasingly competitive global market.

Here are some tips to keep the warehouse running as smooth as possible.

Communication

Communication is important in every aspect of any business. Now more than ever it is easier for people to stay connected and communicate no matter what. E-mail is a great tool, but in the busy warehouse environment it could be unrealistic to think that every e-mail will be answered or read in a timely manner. This is now the new “snail mail” when considering the other options that are available. Two-way radios could make for an amazing tool in the warehouse but there is another technology that nearly everyone has on them at all times, their cell phone. Group messages and phone calls can be a direct and instant form of communication between warehouse employees and management to keep up with the constantly changing warehouse environment. It’s not always necessary to invest in some expensive warehouse communication platform when almost everyone already has a highly advanced piece of communication technology already in their pocket. Time is important when it comes to the shipping process. If a driver calls the warehouse manager and informs them the shipment will be late, or even if it will be early, a quick text to a warehouse group chat could inform every employee about the developing situation.

Organization

An organized warehouse is a productive warehouse. A warehouse can be a enormous facility with sprawling isles and shelves filled with inventory. Finding a specific item in a multiple thousand square foot facility can not only be time consuming but could result in late shipments and lost money. Every organization system should be customized for a business’s specific industry. Sometimes multiple items will be shipped at the same time to the same destination, keeping all of those items in the same area can all employees quickly locate their entire shipment and load it on the truck. On the other hand, if individual packages need to be sent out to different destinations try out different organizational systems to find what works best for your operation. Ask the employees on the warehouse floor what they think would be the more efficient way to organize the warehouse. If they deal with loading and unloading the packages all day, they might see where the current system falls short and then management can adjust the system from there.

Keep It Simple

When receiving and shipping packages, the less the package exchanges hands the less likely a mistake will be made. If an employee is in charge of receiving the item, then passes it off to someone to stock it and then someone needs to update the inventory list and send the information to a data base, there is more of a chance for something to go wrong. ERP software can make this process run much smoother. This kind of software can allow a person to check in materials and update the data base all in one step. This can drastically reduce the chance for an error and keep the warehouse running efficiently.

Make sure all packages are labeled clearly. If a label is not in immediate view for the employee who needs to find the package and ship it out, this can create a lot of downtime. If an employee needs to walk back and forth searching for a package because the labels are not easily visible it will slow up the entire shipping process. Using clearly visible RFID labels paired up with hand held scanners can make the lives of your employees much easier while also improving the overall efficiency of your business. RFID scanners are even available as an app for smart phones and some even come in the form of a smart phone case to further increase the availability of this helpful technology. Always look into the easiest way to help your employees transition into a new system and any time an employee can use the technology they are comfortable with, the easier the transition process will be.

Pickups and Deliveries

When receiving items from a shipment, make sure they are taken off the truck in a timely manner. Communication will ensure that all employees are aware a shipment is close to arrival so they can finish up any tasks they are working on and be ready for the shipment. Along with having employees being ready to receive the shipment, make sure they are all aware of what the inventory they are receiving will consist of. This can help them know exactly where the received inventory must go and what equipment they will need to help unload the freight, further speeding up the unloading process.

When it comes to loading a truck for a delivery an easy step that can be overlooked is simply the order the truck should be loaded. The first package that needs to be delivered should be loaded on last and the last package delivered should be put on first. This makes it easier for the businesses that is receiving the packages to unload the truck leading to happy customers. Another easy step that can be taken that will further please the customer would be to outfit the truck with a GPS device. These are readily available, affordable and offer so much value to both you and the customer. The customer is grateful because they can see exactly where their package is at all times and it can help the shipper by letting them track their delivery progress and notify the customer when the package is about to arrive.

These are small tips that can make a huge difference in how your warehouse is ran. Not only will they create a more organized and streamlined warehouse but the customer will also be grateful for the fantastic service. If the customer is happy they will be more inclined to do business with you in the future. This is a win-win because not only will you save money and reduce down time but it could also lead to life-long customers and more referrals. It doesn’t always take a huge investment to make the warehouse run smoother, sometimes the potential for a more efficient warehouse is already there it’s just how you use all the tools that are available that will make the big difference.

Sources:

http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/10/5-ways-to-use-technology-to-run-a-more-productive-warehouse/
http://multichannelmerchant.com/opsandfulfillment/warehouse/10-ways-improve-warehouse-efficiency-reduce-costs-29072014/