Warehouse efficiency is key to the success of any company that processes, inventories, and ships orders. When efficiency lags, products may not arrive to customers on time, orders can be misplaced, and inventory can be inefficiently managed resulting in stock outs or an abundance of old stock.
To ensure your warehouse operations are optimised, we’ve compiled a list of some tips on how you can keep a tidier and more efficient warehouse.
Process stock as soon as you receive it
When you receive a large shipment from one of your suppliers it can be easy to put it aside to tackle later on. If you keep stacking large barriers that keep you from fulfilling orders, you’re going to have a major backup. Regardless of how busy you are, taking the time to break down shipments, unpacking and stocking them accordingly is important. If you have regular shipments which occur on the same day or week, schedule it on your calendar. Putting it off will only allow it to become a bigger problem – especially in the picking process.
Use space in the warehouse wisely
Rather than adding expansion costs, consider optimising the height of your warehouse by adding taller storage units or mezzanines to fit more items in the same space.
Taking into consideration the type and variety of shelving is also important as you may be taking up valuable space by storing small items on large racks. Rather than using the same racks throughout your warehouse, using a variety of different shelving for different stock and materials may be the best way to take advantage of all of your warehouse space.
Adopt enabling technology
There is no doubt that deploying a warehouse management system (WMS) can drastically optimise your warehouse efficiency.
A WMS or an ERP system with a strong warehouse management module can improve efficiency by suggesting the best routes and methods for picking or put-away. In addition, the system provides automated pick lists that can be sent to scanners and devices to help eliminate mistakes and reduce wasted time and materials.
Order pickers spend about 60% of their time walking product or moving product around. Batch picking reduces travel time and increases productivity as the picker only needs to travel to the pick location once to fill multiple orders.
Batch picking is often used when the typical order profile has under four SKUs, which are generally quite small in diameter. Just as in zone picking, batch picking requires only one order scheduling window per picking shift.
Make bestselling products more accessible.
Chances are, your most popular SKUs will likely change with the seasons where demand for certain goods will fluctuate depending on external factors such as trends, the weather and competitors. Clearly label your best selling products and keep them near the shipping area to avoid a scavenger hunt later on.
Analyse your inventory and improve your stock turn
An astute warehouse operator will regularly analyse their stock-turn and strive to reduce any SKUs that are not regularly turned over.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to store products for long periods of time which often results in poor return on the lingering product as well as the opportunity cost of space which could have been used to store other products.
One of the best ways to determine how much money unpopular stock is costing your business is by calculating how many cubic meters of useable storage exists in your warehouse. By dividing that number into the annual real-estate cost, you will be able to determine the real-estate cost of one cubic meter in your warehouse per annum.
Applying that cost to the space your slow moving stock is occupying, you may realise that the stock is surprisingly costly! Regularly keeping track of stock turn will enable you to effectively manage slow moving items- whether that be through clearance sales, price reductions or bundling products.
Encourage feedback from your team
No matter the size of your warehouse, people play a large role in the success of any business.
As employees spend the majority of their time at the warehouse, it may be worth asking whether they have any feedback on the warehouse layout or ideas on how you can optimise your warehouse.
You never know how much money and time you could save by adopting some of the above tips. Do you have some of your own warehouse strategies? Let us know in the comments below!