Warehouse management sometimes feels like the decathlon of the world of logistics. A successful manager must be able to ensure there is an efficient flow of products in and out of the warehouse, must have the ability to find the best way to utilize the floor space in an optimized layout and also keep a near perfect balance between the product in stock but obviously not overstocked. Balancing so many things while keeping profitability in mind means that the best practices have to always be in place in order to maximize the use of personal and physical resources to the max.
Best practices for warehousing is a topic of everyone’s interest, but that is also highly dependent on your particular operation. What may work in your warehouse could be a disaster to someone else’s, so it is important to properly gauge your needs and then come up with a strategy on how to best implement practices that will ensure your efforts will be best utilized. For this article of David Kiger’s Blog we want to focus on small tips and simply ways you can manage your space and ensure a more efficient and smooth daily operation.
Automatic data collection may seem like a luxury to some, but it is one of the best investments when it comes to saving time and money in the long run. Bar codes and radio frequency identification may seem like someone a small company can do without, but if you think about it, your operation will grow and getting a leg up on process optimization will save you headaches once your volume grows to the point that it will make these changes very difficult. Stay away form writing numbers in pads with pencils and start taking advantage of today’s technology.
Manual entry processes can get expensive if you take into consideration all the delays associated with errors in manual receiving and the time it takes to fix those mistakes.
Automatic data collection also allows for information visibility to be shared across the whole company instantly, something that can improve performance and decrease cycle times.
Establishing advanced shipping notifications may seem like an obvious choice, there are many operations out there that still do not take advantage of ASN. Having schedule pickups and deliveries is not the best way to take use your resources because things change fast and unexpectedly, so that is not the best way to do things sometimes. Advance shipping notifications can be adjusted to the flow of movement and make up for slower times and consider things like overstock or reductions in volume.
Return processes can make you or break you. It is known that returns impact inventory both electronic and physical as well as accounting systems in general. Some items must be discarded, other returned to vendors and yet some will be repackaged, so in those cases, it is very difficult to maintain control of all those variables to be automated like most processes are. Finding ways to make return processes as seamless as possible and to try to somehow use automated solutions that can be modified with the right codes and procedures to make at least some part of the process to run itself.
Think lean. The implementation and design of lean warehouse solutions can have a great impact in your overall operation and your supply chain. Waste can be reduced in many different ways in a warehouse: reduction in time it takes to pick up, pack and ship items; finding ways to relay information in a more efficient manner across the supply chain; optimizing loading and unloading times, and increasing the flexibility the operation has to adapt to the demands of new markets and customers.
Warehouse safety should be on top. Warehouse safety shouldn’t be brushed aside simply because accidents and issues do not happen everyday. Companies that cut corners by not emphasizing safety by means of training employees and implementing protocols that go beyond the law mandated regulations are usually the same companies that do not survive a safety crisis if it arises. Saving money and time by reducing safety is one of the worst decisions that exist in warehouse management. Having a safety committee and training employees properly goes a long way not only to preventing accidents but also by reducing waste and ensuring incidents, where products are damaged are minimal.
Part of safety means having emergency response plans in place and proper procedures to account for all employees and visitors in case of a crisis.
Warehouse cleanliness and housekeeping are very important. This means having clear aisles and clean stockrooms and bins. Good housekeeping helps safety, effectiveness in production and also it surrounds workers with an environment that aids productivity and promotes order. Clutter delays work and also creates hazards for your team, something that will always translate to time, money and resources wasted needlessly.
* Featured Image courtesy of U.S. Pacific Fleet at Flickr.com