So, your business is up-and-running! It seems like only yesterday that you saw the Warehouse to Rent in Enfield sign and now you’re busy filling up your shelves and pallets with your products! It doesn’t stop there, though, now you have to make sure your warehouse operation is as efficient and productive as it can be, so here are some tips to help you get the most out of your space.
Organise with thought and care
Your warehouse should have clear zones defined by the pick type. This makes order-picking and restocking easier because you get similar items, which usually mean similar storage and picking methods, all together.
Use your data
You need good data to make decisions, so make sure you have real-time data systems like RFID or even manual data input so you know what’s going in and going out. Your system should have at-a-glance informatics, not just obscure-looking lists and codes for items.
Make every day a counting day
Make sure everyone executes a count every day before orders start going out. It sounds like a pain, but it’s easy once you get into the habit and you’ll be surprised how much this habit boosts efficiency and even morale.
It’s amazing to think that at least 50% of an order-picker’s day is taken up with travelling between departments and shelves. You must reduce this travel time, so think about where everything is slotted and work out how you can rearrange it so that pickers are spending more time picking and less time beetling about.
Bring in the robots
Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean a mass lay-off! Just bring in some automation to help everyone out. If you use a lot of stretch-wrapping, think about automating this process, for example. Automation isn’t just for the manufacturing industries anymore, it’s become cheaper; cheap enough for warehouses to implement it to reduce labour costs or to help your existing workforce attend to more complicated matters. You could have robot pickers that “specialise” in standard-sized, high-turnover items, leaving the humans to help customers out with more unusual sizes and combinations.
Decide how you’ll pick orders before you start picking
Which picking process are you going to use in which zone and will it change with the season or spikes in demand? Decide this before you start sending out orders.
Remember, stock replenishment is as important as picking
You should concentrate on replenishing stock just as much as you do on sending it out. Your items need to be placed exactly where they should be as soon as possible to keep the cycle going.
Make your operation secure
If you have a secure supply chain, it’ll be more efficient. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how much businesses are prepared to lose to theft and mishandling!
Get the lights!
One complaint about warehouses is that the lighting can be poor, especially on lower shelves and pallets, because many warehouses have overhead lights only! There’s no excuse not to install LED lights on all (or at least most) shelves now, as they’re cheaper than ever, save loads of energy and last for years. You’ll recoup any initial costs with increased efficiency.
Bring in an inventory manager
If you’re big enough, having a dedicated inventory manager will pay for itself as you’ll be taking this task away from your warehouse managers, pickers and supervisors, leaving them freer to get on with their jobs.