Before we move onto unraveling the complexities of warehousing, we’d like to take a moment to tell you about the human brain. This amazing organ is estimated to compute 38 thousand trillion solutions per second. The next most-powerful supercomputer can only manage 0.002% of that. Impressive, right? But what does all of this have to do with warehousing?
We’re sitting on the cusp of a major warehousing transformation. Everyone’s on the lookout for the next big answer. Because that’s what our brains are best at doing. But in matters of warehousing, this very practice becomes a bottleneck. For when it comes to improving warehouse productivity, the most important thing for companies to remember is- look for the right questions before looking for the answers.
What is critical productivity? What do your returns cost? What is the cost per box? What is the cost per line? How to assess and employ cost reductions? What is your key metrics? You’ve got to know what to ask. After all, you can’t really improve something without knowing what you have to improve.
So take a step back, and try putting your warehousing operations through this litmus test first:
How efficient is my space usage?
When it comes to space utilization: think vertical. Stop thinking in terms of area and start thinking in terms of volume. Invest in pallet racking and make use of all the space from the floor to the ceiling. Pallet racking leads to safer working conditions as well as can be scaled for large manufacturing facilities to small retail stores.
Is my management strategy aligned with my goals?
When it comes to warehouse operations, it’s best to go ‘Lean’. There’s a big gap between what you have and what you need to deliver, and Lean Management gets it done with the least wastage. It’s a long-term approach for swift & small increments. Also, adapt the JIT (Just-in-time) inventory management that helps reduce cost of inventory.
Can some processes be automated?
Automation is your best friend if used correctly. It can help access real-time inventory information, reduce product damages, and even help allocate storage space. Studies have shown automated warehouses have 400% more efficiency when it comes to storage.
Is my inventory management efficient?
Storing your products is one thing, but that’s not the end. Understand what kind of inventory is being dealt by each warehouse. Top selling items should most accessible. For perishable inventory, the pallet flow pallet rack system works the best. For bulk storage, drive-in racking suits the best. Also, monitor each movement with a smart Warehouse Management system.
Is my warehouse staff involved enough?
Keep your staff member’s opinions close to the management process. They know best about the system, and know how to find out the kinks and help iron them out. Also, you cannot control vendor policies but you can examine their lead times. Warehouse efficiency is worst hit by vendors missing due-dates, so ensure you keep a rating system for them.
Think of your warehouse as the engine of your supply chain. Even if one part malfunctions, one cog stops working, the entire engine’s efficiency goes kaput. So before you go setting goals for profits and charting your company’s journey, make sure the engine aka warehouse operations are working at full efficiency. After that there’s only on way to go: upwards.