Warehouse jobs are not “glamorous,” but they’re essential for Americans to enjoy the high standard of living many take for granted. A warehouse is a large place where equipment and goods move rapidly. When you allow your workspace to become disorganized, you can set yourself up for a troublesome, inefficient workday and ultimately an underperforming business.
Instead of doing that, you should optimize your warehouse. The processes and practices essential to making sure your warehouse operation runs smoothly are proven, but putting them into practice requires effort. Here are some of the reasons every warehouse should be optimized.
Find things Quicker
If you're in the storage business, you've got to know how to locate everything quickly. Having a navigable floorplan and easy-to-read maps of your warehouse available to employees will make sure that precious time isn't wasted looking for things in the wrong places.
A good layout should not only make it easy to divide the warehouse into sections specific to the types of products stored. It should be well-marked so that new employees can get up to speed quickly. You will need to make decisions about how you'll use warehouse space depending on the application.
For example, you might choose to use wide aisles in your warehouse if you sell a well-defined, limited set of goods in large quantities. Workers won’t have difficulty finding things, and can quickly move large orders. The opposite is true for more diverse product sets that need to be spread out and categorized to allow workers to locate different components of a single order.
Maximize your Space
Once you know how space will be broken down, it's time to consider what goes where. This is more than just planning which basic categories of items live in what parts of the warehouse layout.
It's important to consider which types of shelving are best for each. Since different materials come in different packages, it's important to diversify your stacking methods. One set of goods might require solid shelves, whereas wire might be more appropriate for a different item. Heavier products stored in FIBCs should always be stacked in a pyramid or using the support stacking method.
New rack designs like decked racks and tunnel racks can give you increased storage capacity out of the same amount of space.
Similar items should be grouped together so that workers can locate things even if they aren’t familiar with a specific item. You can use labels to call out the different shelving sections.
Store Tools Efficiently
Not everything in your warehouse is destined for the market or the end-user. Many of the tools that workers use every day need to be kept somewhere so that they aren’t lost or in the way. You can make the storage of these items efficient by taking a little of the space in your warehouse and converting it for use storing tools.
Many new bin and container designs can mount on racks or are stackable. You can quickly move them to different parts of the warehouse if a task needs to be performed elsewhere, and can be labeled or color-coded to help people find their tools quickly.
Simplify Order Fulfillment
This is a technique that takes some of the prep work out of filling customer orders. Instead of bringing goods that have been allocated to different corners of the warehouse back together because they are going to be part of the same order, you can break down large shipments of goods into smaller groups to quickly package and ship out in a method called cross-docking.
Keep Everyone Working Efficiently
Employee competence is essential for a warehouse to function smoothly. Everyone should know the shop well and have the appropriate training in required safety standards.
They should also understand routine shop maintenance. Dedicate one of your tool bins to cleaning materials and make sure that employees take a proactive approach to resolving messy spills and material build-up before it becomes a hindrance.
It might seem like a small thing, but staying out in front of messes will keep clutter and debris from hurting productivity.
These techniques sound simple, and for the most part, they are. It takes discipline to execute them consistently. Sometimes that means being self-critical enough to realize your method is working, but it could work better.
A fast-running warehouse might seem like a huge place, but getting the most out of it is a game of inches. Never discount how important it is to take advantage of every chance to optimize. All those little wins add up to make your warehouse run smoothly and ultimately, make money.