8 Warehouse Operations Best Practices

November 1, 2017

Author: Definitive Technology Group

As a warehouse operator, you want your operations to run as effectively and efficiently as possible. Right now, however, you find that productivity is not at its highest and you are wasting money, time and energy on certain tasks.

To speed up your supply chain, ensure that employees are staying on track and improve your warehouse efficiency, consider implementing the following warehouse operations best practices into your everyday activities.




1. Utilize a materials handling system


One of the key functions of warehouse operations is materials handling. Every single day, employees are picking, sorting through, taking inventory of, moving, protecting and controlling goods. You have to come up with an effective materials handling system that addresses who is handling these materials, how long it takes for certain processes to be completed and how the materials are being handled.

For instance, you may discover that it takes an employee 15 minutes to move goods on from point A to point B in your warehouse. You can determine a faster way to get these goods around, perhaps by adjusting the layout of your warehouse or giving the employee a mobile workstation to transport the goods on. To come up with a solid materials handling system, you need to hire an efficient warehouse manager who is experienced with increasing productivity.


2. Require advanced shipping notifications


Electronic, advanced shipping notifications are going to speed up processes on the receiving end of your warehouse. If employees know when goods are going to be delivered, they can proficiently prepare to receive them. There are always delays that occur, and if you and your employees are not aware of them in advance, you are going to waste your time waiting for your goods to come in. This will have a ripple effect on the entire supply chain. Make sure your vendors are letting you know where your goods are and when they will arrive.


3. Schedule synchronized shipments of incoming goods


It takes a lot of time and energy for workers to set up docks and receive materials. If goods are coming in sporadically and are not scheduled at the same time, you are creating extra, unnecessary steps. Instead, ensure that shipments come in all at the same time, while the dock is already set up and workers are on standby and ready to receive.


4. Collect data automatically


Barcodes, radio frequency identification and mobile warehouse apps can help you collect data automatically. In 2017, your employees should not be going around with clipboards, writing down information. That method is slow, outdated and expensive and leaves room for a lot of error. An employee may lose papers or mistakenly mark down an item number. If data is collected automatically, you are going to free up time for employees. Your data will be stored all in one place that is easily accessible and reviewable at any time.


5. Use mobile carts and batteries


Employees in warehouses are frequently on the move, running from one end of the space to the other to do their jobs. They cannot be tied down to one specific area in the warehouse because that doesn’t allow them to be on the go at all times. They should use mobile carts and batteries, which can easily survive in a warehouse environment and allow employees to work from any location.

Mobile work carts are rugged and strong enough for the most demanding settings and can quickly be wheeled from one place to another at a moment’s notice. These carts will typically include back-up, hot-swappable batteries, which means that no important data or productivity will be lost when a battery dies.


6. Come up with unique tracking numbers for goods


Often times, warehouse managers will require that serial numbers be used to track goods. However, this can lead to confusion and inaccurate inventory because serial numbers on two different assets may be identical. A serial number can be utilized as a backup in case the tracking number is lost.


7. Organize your inventory according to its value


Some of your distribution center inventory is highly sought after, while some is not. You should be organizing your inventory with the ABC method. This means that you focus on items first with the highest dollar value, and then focus on the lower value items less of the time.

Priority stock items are going to require more monitoring and tighter controls since they give you a higher return on your investment. You will also need to review them more frequently to ensure that you have an adequate supply. C-items, as opposed to A-items, have a lower value. You probably have a lot of C-items in your warehouse that do not have to be looked after as much. B-items fall right in the middle.

For example, if you were an electronics manufacturer, USB cables would be a C-item. You have a lot of them and they are cheap to produce. A-items would be big screen televisions that are in demand. You have to proactively protect the A-items since they are your moneymakers.


8. Prioritize warehouse safety


Employee injuries will set warehouse productivity back and cause disruptions of warehouse operations. To avoid these, enforce a safety culture within your warehouse. Thoroughly train your employees, produce safety checklists that must be completed at the beginning and end of every shift, instruct them to wear safety gear and have managers double check that every worker is protected prior to working a shift.

When you follow all of these warehouse operations best practices, you are increasing productivity while lowering costs and contributing to the success of your warehouse.

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