7 Warehouse Efficiency Ideas
I’ll be honest: there are no one-size-fits-all ideas for warehouse efficiency. With countless different industries, product types and process possibilities, it’s nearly impossible to offer generic advice.
The benefits of optimizing your operation for efficiency, however, are vast. Efficiency has a significant impact on order speed and accuracy, labor costs, worker safety and satisfaction and overall business profitability.
If you’re looking to improve efficiency at your warehouse, there are some strategies you can begin exploring. These strategies are designed to be customized to the unique needs of each facility, so it should be easy to implement them in your operation.
In this article, I’ll explain seven of the strategies we commonly recommend to our clients. Keep reading to learn more about improving efficiency at your warehouse.
1. Optimize Management and Leadership
On the front lines of any efficiency strategy is a strong leadership and management team. When managed correctly, teams are more likely to be motivated, inspired, detail-oriented and satisfied with their jobs. This, naturally, leads to improved performance.
When hiring a management team, look for individuals with industry-specific skills and experiences. A balance of human, conceptual and technical skills has been found to drastically improve management efficiency. So, cast a wide net and consider how the strengths of one manager on the team can offset the weaknesses of another. This way, you achieve a balanced team of leaders who can support and learn from each other.
2. Prioritize Training
Once you’ve established a strong management team, consider how to leverage their strengths to improve the skill level of your general workforce. Regular training sessions, mentorships and incentives can have a positive impact on employee performance and commitment.
The same concept applies to training new employees. While it might be tempting to minimize the length of time each employee spends in training, even minor decreases can have an impact on overall performance and job satisfaction. Of course, you should always follow the minimum training standards, but specific and robust training can dramatically decrease the risk of injury and improve order time and accuracy.
While it might be tempting to minimize the length of time each employee spends in training, even minor decreases can have an impact on overall performance and job satisfaction.
3. Customize Warehouse Layout
The design of a warehouse can make or break the efficiency of an operation. Unfortunately, there are no generic tips for warehouse design, because each facility has unique requirements and challenges that need to be considered when creating an optimized layout.
My strategy for warehouse planning is to develop a comprehensive understanding of your facility’s equipment needs before beginning the design process. Here are some things to consider:
- The intended application of the facility
- The limitations of the space
- Local and federal regulations
- Customers and clients
- Receiving and shipping processes and schedules
- Product details including SKU diversity and volume, weight and dimensions
If designing your facility is giving you a headache, work with a warehouse design specialist. Whether you choose to outsource or complete the design in-house, it’s critical to have a solid understanding of your business needs before beginning the process.
4. Streamline Warehouse Safety Processes
The general consensus is that safety standards and regulations slow efficiency in most cases. For that reason, it’s worth investing some time to optimize and automate as many of these processes as possible.
Here are some common strategies for streamlining safety processes:
- Assign roles and responsibilities: Designate safety team members who oversee inspections and training.
- Automate training: Create safety training modules and processes for new and seasonal employees.
- Invest in quality equipment: Failing or out-of-date safety equipment can result in incidents that cause massive disruptions. Investing in reliable safety equipment is a simple solution.
5. Take Advantage of Warehouse Technology
Perhaps my best advice for improving warehouse efficiency is to invest in an accurate, real-time inventory management system.
Emerging technologies are continuously improving the functionality and capabilities of these systems. They are quickly becoming essential parts of every warehousing and logistics operation.
Here are a few things a warehouse management system can optimize:
- Locating inventory
- Picking and packing
- Shipping and Receiving
- Ordering new inventory and managing stock flow
- Standardizing inventory movement
- Training processes
When implemented properly, reliable and robust inventory management software allows team members from multiple areas—warehouse pickers to back office workers—to communicate with each other.
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6. Automate Your Facility
Warehouse automation has been a buzzword for a number of years now. It’s revolutionizing the way we work in various industries and unlocking potential outcomes that were previously unthinkable.
The benefits of automation include:
- Improved space and resource utilization
- Decreased labor and training costs
- Decreased operational and storage costs
- Reduced mistakes and injuries
- Improved organization and throughput
As automation rapidly improves efficiency and shipping times in global warehousing giants such as Amazon, smaller facilities are forced to keep up with increasing consumer demands. Luckily, the cost of this technology has been decreasing, making warehouse automation an attractive option for operations looking to boost efficiency.
7. Invest in the Right Material Handling Equipment
The type of equipment that is best positioned to improve efficiency at your facility depends on your operation’s unique needs.
For example, facilities looking to optimize and increase storage capacity should invest in pallet racking. Alternatively, facilities looking to improve storage density should invest in drive-in racking.
Improve Warehouse Efficiency With East Coast Storage Equipment
Ultimately, improving efficiency at your warehouse is about understanding the unique needs of your business. By working with a specialist, you can get a custom-designed layout and equipment plan tailored to improve operational efficiency.