Some warehouses operate far more efficiently than others and most often we can chalk this off to a well-planned warehouse design. Here are some ways you can optimize your warehouse layout, have products flowing in and out smoothly and be well on your way to achieving peak performance.
Third Party Opinions
Warehouse design is improving as the years go by and with a fresh set of eyes you’ll be able to have any problem areas pointed out, from obsolete inventory to poor use of dock space. This can be done as a precautionary measure if you have even the slightest of doubts about your layout.
The 5S process is an efficient procedure that can be used in the workplace too. After years of operations, do you find that objects of no use are taking up invaluable inventory space? This type of cluttering tends to happen quite easily but it severely affects your efficiency. Invest in Better Storage and make sure you carry out the right procedures to reclaim your floor space and have everything packed away where it belongs.
Warehouse Management System
Your Warehouse Management System will be in charge of accumulating and analyzing any historical data. Manual entry is a definite no, use WMS to track your inventory instead, and consider implementing automated asset tracking data collection methods, assigning unique tracking numbers and tracking your fixed assets as well (rather than only movable assets). Collecting such data will help with forecasting.
You need to stay up to date on the best warehouse practices using research, trade associations and other industry resources. This will help you identify and establish a set of measurable metrics to track. Focus on building an efficient returns process, improving communications and reducing times (from loading and unloading to material handling).
By creating a communication system within the organization where transparency is valued, all employees will be kept in the loop. This reduces much wasted time on misunderstandings and lost goods/possessions.
Dock operations can be the busiest area in the warehouse and is also prone to injuries, which is why you need to focus on improving this as much as possible. If your unloading occurs at the dock, then don’t forget to have your put-away areas cleared at least daily to avoid congestion. You can also invest in newer trends like cross-docking, which is when inbound inventory is directly unloaded and re-loaded on to outbound vehicles. No storage of products occur in the warehouse and so it’s much faster and efficient but there must be multiple docks created to make sure nothing obstructs the flow.
Reduce Pick Times
Do you have any important, high volume products? Of course you do but are you storing them efficiently? You’ll have to categorize these products first using WMS data and then, ideally, these products should be stored as close to the shipping area as possible to reduce picking time.
Keep these steps in mind and you’ll have an efficient warehouse design in no time!