Warehouse Efficiency: 9 Ideas to Improve Productivity

August 23, 2017

Author: Definitive Technology Group

Warehouse operations are typically superfluous and inefficient. This, unfortunately, leads to low warehouse productivity among workers and a loss of critical income.

On average, the total carrying costs of a good are 25% of its value. These expenses are comprised of capital, service, handling and storage costs, as well as the cost of risk. In terms of storage costs, products need to be stored in warehouses and handled by employees, who are paid for moving, organizing, picking up and packing said products.

Businesses need to focus on lowering that 25% statistic. Then, they will be able to make increased profits in the long run and function more economically. If you are running a warehouse operation and you want to improve efficiency in the short and long-term, here are nine of the best practices you can follow.




1. Run an audit of your warehouse


The first step is to transform your space from an inefficient to an efficient warehouse. That starts with conducting an operational audit. See how long it takes for processes in your supply chain to be completed. Ask yourself: Are my goods organized in a way that makes sense? Is order picking going as fast as possible? If you are not well versed in how to deploy a warehouse audit, then you need to hire someone you can. That’s where an efficient warehouse manager comes into the picture.


2. Find an experienced warehouse manager


It is up to warehouse managers to create warehouse management systems that encourage productivity and ensure proficiency. They will run audits, figure out ways to make processes better and always look towards the future by finding new and effective management methods. These managers will track their progress with key performance indicators, or KPIs. Your warehouse manager will run tests to determine whether or not you reached your KPIs and figure out what you can do to fulfill all of your goals.


3. Examine the warehouse layout


Workers may need to run from one end of your building to the other to complete their jobs. Perhaps products are stored too high up and require employees to operate heavy machinery to procure them. Take a look at your warehouse layout and see where you can move certain items to ensure that everything is easily and quickly reachable to employees.


4. Create a materials handling system


Materials handling, or the moving, storing, protecting and controlling of goods, is a key part of the supply chain process. If you want to guarantee efficiency, you will need to create a materials handling system that supports and improves your functions. You should look at what types of items will be handled and by whom, see how materials are being moved, examine how long it takes for materials to go down the supply chain and focus on the volume that is going to be handled per unit time. Then, you can produce a system that works for your needs.


5. Thoroughly train employees


Thoroughly trained employees are going to cause fewer accidents and ensure processes are done right. Place them through a rigorous training process up front and provide them with managerial guidance if they need anything. Make training a crucial part of your warehouse operations, even if employees have been with your company for a while. They can always benefit from more training.


6. Stress safety, safety, safety


If employees get injured or fall ill because of workplace errors, that is going to significantly slow down your supply chain operations and cause you to lose time and money. Provide employees with the proper safety equipment and make sure they are actually using it on a daily basis. Place signs up around your workplace reminding employees to wear safety goggles, gloves and etcetera. Create safety checklists they can reference and ensure that your managers are stressing safety.


7. Invest in mobile carts and workstations


In a warehouse environment, managers and employees need sturdy and durable workstations and mobile carts. These workstations will be where managers and employees can access key systems and store materials necessary for their operations. Since they are always on the go, they need workstations that are also easily transportable around any environment.


8. Look at your inbound material


You know you can control what goes on inside your warehouse, but you should set standards for materials coming into your warehouse as well. Come up with guidelines for inbound providers to follow such as a standard delivery time, a set weight for each box that is delivered, required compliance regulations, one location where they can drop the goods and penalties if they do not go along with your rules.


9. Obtain management software


In 2017, you need to be utilizing technology in your warehouse. There are a number of warehouse management software providers that will track and automate your processes, count your materials, display your KPIs, look at your employees’ movements, keep track of your equipment, suggest ways to be more efficient and show you what is happening in your warehouse at all times. It will display every piece of information you need to know while revolutionizing how you manage your warehouse.


Getting started


It is time to start improving your warehouse efficiency and production. You are going to not only save money but you'll make money by completely transforming how you operate throughout the entire supply chain.

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