Improving warehouse productivity is a constant struggle for any warehouse manager. There are many factors that contribute to efficient and streamlined warehouse operations. Below is a list of 8 ways to improve the overall productivity of your warehouse.
1) Improve Labour Productivity
A huge part of running a successful warehouse comes down to the warehouse staff and labour productivity. If you have a team of unmotivated employees, your warehouse productivity will plummet. That is why it is essential to ensure that your team is working as hard and efficiently as possible.
One easy way to promote productivity amongst your employees is to offer incentives. Desirable incentives can encourage your team to work more efficiently. Additionally, you can implement team incentives to improve staff morale. A team with high morale will be more invested in the success of their company and will work harder to accomplish company goals.
Another way to improve labour productivity in a warehouse is to optimise your picking plans. If your warehouse management system can’t do this for you, you may have to do so manually. An efficient picking plan can greatly reduce the time required for warehouse processes.
Eliminate any unnecessary steps and handling from processes to streamline the picking process. Keep high volume items in accessible locations near the front of the warehouse. You will need to regularly assess your processes as something that is working for you now may not be practical in a years time. Ensuring your warehouse operations and processes are as simple as possible is an easy way to boost productivity.
2) Communication & Accountability
Efficient communication and individual accountability is the key to a productive warehouse environment. It is important to communicate any output targets and KPI’s to warehouse staff. This way, they have specific goals to work towards, to which they can be held accountable.
An easy way to do this is to display weekly or even daily goals in the warehouse and whether or not they were achieved previously. For example you could display how many orders are picked per day with the target number of orders clearly visible. Not only will seeing these goals encourage productivity, if your team can see that they are constantly smashing their targets, team morale will increase.
There should be a two way line of communication. Give your team members a chance to provide feedback and ask for any ideas they may have to improve your processes. As the people who carry out these processes daily, they can offer insight from a different perspective.
3) Quality Equipment
Forking out the extra money for quality equipment could end up saving you money. Although it may seem like a smart decision to buy your equipment cheap, the extra maintenance required and wasted hours when machinery breaks down could cost you more than you originally saved.
It is also important that you have high quality safety equipment installed including bollards and safety barriers where forklifts and other vehicles may be operating. Not only will safety barriers prevent any possible damage to equipment, it is also a necessary safety measure for any warehouse.
Investing in quality equipment will ensure that your warehouse operations run smoothly and reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs.
4) Regular Equipment Inspections
Regular equipment inspections come with a range of benefits. Firstly, you will save money on emergency repairs by preempting potential equipment failures. Regular inspections will also save you time on equipment breakdowns and in some cases extend your warranty.
Another benefit of regular inspections of equipment is avoiding workplace accidents. Frequently inspecting your equipment whether inhouse or by a third party will ensure the safety of your team. You will also be less likely to be left short staffed due to a workplace injury.
5) Measure Success
The only way to gauge how well your warehouse is performing is to measure your success and failures. From orders picked to turnover of units, you need to track your productivity in order to improve on it.
This also includes tracking loss. You need to know your costs, from how much every picking error is costing you to how much you lose on each return. If you know your costs, you can set goals for success and put in place processes to reduce costs and reach those goals.
6) Maximise Storage Capacity
One simple way to improve warehouse productivity is to maximise the existing storage space. Particularly, taking advantage of unused vertical space in a warehouse.
With the right racking system you will be able to increase the storage capacity of your warehouse. Many warehouses have unused vertical space that could use racking extensions or mezzanine floors to double or even triple the warehouse storage capacity. Other storage solutions include double deep racking for unconventional spaces and compressing shelves and narrowing aisles to optimise your existing shelving.
When you maximise your existing storage space it allows for stock expansion and increased productivity without having to relocate.
7) Optimise Warehouse Layout
Choosing the right racking system for your warehouse will optimise your warehouse layout and reduce the time it takes to complete warehouse processes. With racking specifically suited to your product, you can greatly improve your overall warehouse productivity whether FIFO(first in, first out), LIFO(last in, first out), cold storage or a high product variance.
For example, in a warehouse where there is a high product variance, the ideal pallet racking system will have maximum product accessibility. When you are storing a wide range of different products it is essential to have maximum accessibility racking like selective pallet racking. Selective pallet racking allows for full access to every product stored in the system This will significantly reduce picking times of complicated orders by eliminating the need to shuffle any pallets around to access the correct items.
8) Continual Improvement
The best way to improve the productivity in your warehouse is to constantly work at finding things you can improve on. Whether it’s with new warehouse processes or additional training for your warehouse manager, there is always room for improvement.