Consumers want speed and expect to receive their orders as soon as possible. That implies more work on your part when you own a warehouse that deals with shipping items.
To remain competitive and profitable, your warehouse must become efficient. Increasing warehouse space can seem expensive or impractical, but it’s needed due to the increasing supply chain demands. Businesses must make the most of what they have. Therefore, optimizing existing space is vital.
As a business owner with a facility, you can start by implementing warehouse management best practices to kickstart an increase in productivity and safety. Keep reading this article for more tips on operating your warehouse optimally.
How to organize a warehouse
Finding the best available solutions can become a hassle. At the same time, though, organization helps optimize resource management and leads to better productivity.
Remember that warehouse optimization isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s a complex ongoing process. You must periodically evaluate and upgrade your warehouse organization systems and processes to adapt them to your ever-evolving needs.
To help you identify and optimize warehouse space we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to implement in your own facilities. Let’s see how you can improve your warehouse to make the most of your space.
1. Audit your existing floor plan
First things first: start by figuring out where you need to make changes. You won’t know where changes need to happen when you don’t understand where your warehouse is falling short. You can audit your facility by yourself, or work with a third-party auditor for greater objectivity, accuracy, and time saved on your part.
Warehouses are complex structures with interconnected operations. The audit process should include area categorization and traffic paths. It’s essential to find weaknesses before making changes. The data will reveal the most common routes employees take for processes, showing where delays occur.
When employees go through multiple sections for an item, the floor plan needs reorganizing. Find high-demand zones with traffic, but insufficient space. Then, you can start there when you reorganize for optimum efficiency.
2. Organize to avoid clutter
Messy warehouses indicate that you’re dealing with inefficient working spaces. Unorganized or badly organized warehouses can result in lost potential revenue, overwhelmed staff members, or low company morale.
Safety should be a priority. After all, the last thing you want is to put your employees in danger with inappropriate conditions and clutter. A safe warehouse is more likely to work at full capacity as efficiently as possible.
3. Maintain order and cleanliness in your warehouse
After cleaning and organizing your warehouse, you’ll have to implement training and routines to help your employee keep things organized. You can create a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule that fits your warehouse’s unique needs.
Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure your stock is accounted for and your team is working in a safe environment. You may even find lost orders or misplaced items. A clean warehouse means everyone working on the grounds can move efficiently, find items quickly and get things done faster.
4. Maximize your space
It’s not uncommon for warehouses to have unused or unoptimized spaces. Obsolete inventory takes up space needed for in-demand items. Taking and tracking inventory can help reduce waste and optimize space.
After removing unnecessary items, reorganize to maximize your available space. Take advantage of vertical space by installing racks or making your aisles narrower. Measure your items and equipment like forklifts to be sure they can pass safely through after you reorganize.
5. Adapt and improve as needed
Optimal warehouse management is not a one-time deal. Demands change over time, just as your needs do. So, you’ll have to adapt your space to new specifications to maintain efficiency. Help your warehouse organization effort by implementing data tracking and review. It will be easier to improve things in the future.
Track your metrics after you implement changes. See what changes and if those adjustments are beneficial for your warehouse ecosystem or not. Consider additional alterations and apply different strategies when results are not going according to plan.
Keep tracking to see if any parts of your newly-implemented system show cracks along the way. There’s always something new to improve. Keep looking for things to optimize to help your facility keep up with changing times.
6. Engage in effective communication between workers
All parts of the warehouse ecosystem must communicate effectively. Inbound and outbound shipping can impact warehouse slotting. Employees should communicate as much as possible. They should share relevant information between departments because it could mean more successful order completions in the long run.
If your operation measures its success in certain metrics you can communicate the data to staff to motivate them. First, you have to collect and understand the numbers yourself. Report feedback to your employees to make them aware of the productivity of your warehouse. They can monitor their performance themselves, which may lead to better productivity levels.
7. Invest in quality equipment
Good equipment is essential for optimizing productivity. Sometimes warehouses buy cheaper equipment to reduce their expenses. In the long run, though, employees can’t work efficiently when they don’t have the quality equipment they need.
Equipment that breaks regularly harms productivity. Less work will be completed. Cheap equipment could seem like the better option cost-wise, at first. Consider costs not only in terms of expenses, but productivity as well.
Choose newer equipment that helps your employees work faster and more efficiently. New doors, forklifts, lifts, or computers can effectively improve employee morale and optimize workloads.
Newer equipment generally runs faster and doesn’t break as easily as run-down second-hand pieces. When you improve your warehouse with new equipment, you show your staff you’re invested in their performance and their well-being.
8. Implement and prioritize a safety culture
Safety warehouse practices don’t happen by chance. You must plan them. A first step towards implementing better safety practices is forming a safety committee.
Because warehouse managers are responsible for safety on the premises, they have to lead by example. They should model safety best practices and introduce safety culture mechanisms to help employees feel they are safe while on the job.
Maintaining warehouse safety is a continuous process that needs time and effort. Regular meetings where safety measures are discussed have a positive influence on the success of your business.
Warehouse optimization is a long, complex process that requires consistency. Although it may seem intimidating, it’s essential for improving warehouse operational efficiency and achievable when broken down into actionable steps.
By putting some effort into optimizing your warehouse workflow, your business can become more productive and by extension, more profitable.