Warehouse operations make a big difference. Improving operational efficiency is critical to increasing throughput and inventory accuracy, reducing picking and shipping errors, decreasing the amount of labor required, and maximizing warehouse storage capacity. Streamlining warehouse operations drives significant time and cost savings; 60% of managers agree that large time and cost savings can be achieved by cutting just a few seconds from everyday workflow warehouse operations.
Many facility managers believe improving facility warehouse operations requires a substantial automation investment or an extensive overhaul of existing operations. However, this just is not the case. Sometimes little things have the biggest impact on an overall warehouse improvement effort.
- Re-slot your pick positions: Since pickers can spend close to 60% of their time traveling (afoot or on a forklift or walkie), it’s a good idea to minimize that time-spend when possible. A good product slotting strategy can reduce travel time by reducing picking labor, ultimately leading to better productivity in the warehouse. Slotting should be reviewed and optimized on a regular basis; in fact, busy operations re-slot their fast moving, high-profit SKU’s every day.
- Consider a long-term software investment: When it comes to warehouse automation, it’s important to consider ROI over the long term, instead of just the short-term benefits. SI Systems’ SI-IWS Warehouse Control System (WES software, for example, offers a modular design that allows you to add functional modules as your business grows. Since all modules are pre-integrated into the base system, you can easily enable other modules and features into the WES to streamline operations and drive efficiency over time.
- Properly train employees: Educating employees about warehouse safety isn’t just about preventing injuries and illnesses; studies show there’s a direct link between safety and workplace performance. However, employees need more training than the basics of how to run machinery in their area. To improve workplace productivity, be sure to properly train employees (both new and veteran workers) on a consistent basis. Regular, frequent updates and refresher courses should be included in a training program and preventing unsafe acts should be a part of the company culture. Employees who are trained in safety operations are less likely to have accidents, and therefore better able to be productive and efficient in their daily tasks.
- Use proper lighting: Dark and cluttered aisles make it difficult for forklifts and workers on the floor to see one another, resulting in forklift collisions and other dangerous situations. Rectangular rack rows and circular fixtures can also hinder visibility. However, proper light distribution can significantly improve an operation; utilizing the correct lighting geometry can reduce picking errors on its own. Additional benefits to using proper lighting include energy savings, tax breaks, and utility rebates that accompany energy-efficient lighting systems.
- Measure data: Running a warehouse without keeping extensive records and taking measurements from these records leaves you with no more than a shot in the dark about what drives the greatest efficiency in your warehouse operations. Specific measurements will vary, depending on the business, but may include intake, output, carryover, average time in warehouse, labor cost of operation per item, and productivity. The key is to have real, actionable data; you must understand what’s happening from a high level in order to make effective changes.
In today’s competitive, consumer-driven landscape, it’s critical for your warehouse operations to run at its fullest potential. The above list outlines just a few of the ways you can streamline operations, drive efficiency, and reduce costs – without breaking the bank.
SI Systems has been providing world class automated software and material handling systems to order fulfillment, distribution center, warehouse, manufacturing and assembly operations for over 50 years. Systems include WMS (Warehouse Management Systems), WCS (Warehouse Control Systems), and WES (Warehouse Execution Systems) software, order fulfillment dispensing A-Frames, towline in-floor conveyor, slotting and integration services.