An effective warehouse strategy is the strategies that make the most of your warehouse, cut costs and keep the workflow constant.
In most cases the solutions that you are presented with are common like investing in pallet collars to expand your shipping/storage space or to subscribe to reusable packaging to cut back greatly on costs but there are a few less common strategies that you can impart to make your warehouse far more effective.
These 7 solutions may seem a little off kilter when you compare them to the usual advice you get but they have been tried and proven to improve effectiveness in a warehouse operation.
Strategy #1 – Know Your Human Capital
How is the morale in your warehouse? Is everyone in a good mood? Happy to be at work? Happy employees are productive employees. Your warehouse can run a lot smoother if you are keeping up the morale of your employees.
While salary is an important factor when it comes to how the morale is holding up it is not the only thing that is important to warehouse employees. Consider the following:
- Tools that are effective
- Appreciation and recognition
Providing a safe working environment not only keeps up morale but also reduces risk. For example switching from crates and cardboard boxes to pallets and pallet collars not only improves your ROI when it comes to costs but it also reduces risk for your employees.
Of course effective tools for shipping and storing also improve how your employees feel about their job. Effective tools builds confidence and helps them to feel a high degree of efficacy.
Appreciation does not have to be shown only with money it can be shown by naming an employee of the month and offering a small token.
Strategy #2 – Know Your Products Well
Consider your products and design your warehouse accordingly. This seems like a common sense strategy but you would be surprised to know how many warehouses are not using packaging that is meant for the products that they have in their warehouse.
Using the wrong packaging for your products can mean:
- Wasting space
- Wasting money
- Wasting labor
Make sure that you have someone on board that understands your products and that can help you choose your packaging/storage set up wisely.
Tip #3 – Always Keep Looking Up
Keep your eye on what is going on in your air space, vertical space is largely overlooked not only in the warehouse but in the transport vehicle as well. Keep looking up for more space instead of looking outwards.
Having the right packaging options can help you to stack higher and keep taking advantage of that vertical space. Space is always premium real estate in any warehouse.
Reducing the footprint of your racks and moving toward a more vertical approach will free up floor space which of course makes it easier to move around the warehouse and keep the workflow moving.
Tip #4 – Enlist Help
If you want to know how to improve your warehouse efficiency you have to ask the people that work in the warehouse every day. Schedule a monthly meeting with warehouse employees to share ideas.
Everyone can spare an hour or two a month to come together and make suggestions, of course as the manager you will have to make sure that the viable suggestions are turned into an actionable plan.
The warehouse employees have a significant advantage of seeing where changes can really make a difference.
Managers on the other hand may be cued into the numbers but that does not necessarily provide the details that you need to make changes.
Tip #5 – Take a Closer Look at Vendor Delivery/Lead Time
Oddly enough in many warehouses vendor delivery time and lead times do not correlate. Mining data and setting up a score card to keep track of lead times and actually delivery times can help to reduce “out of stock” situations.
Once you have the data collected and the keep score for a month or two you can make some decisions about vendor times and how you can adjust the disparity.
In some instances you can encourage different lead times in others you may have to shop for a different vendor.
Many warehouse managers are pretty shocked when they take a look at the data and how far off the lead time and delivery times are.
Tip #6 – Automate Your Inventory System
Management Science reports that “numbers were inaccurate for 65 percent of the nearly 370,000 inventory records observed across 37 retail stores” this is also true of warehouses.
You may have an antiquated system or you may not have a system that is built around your products in either case you need to get it fixed.
Having the right system that is built around your product line will help to:
- Free up space in the warehouse by allowing organization that makes sense
- Reduce the risk of loss by allowing equipment like pallet jacks and fork lifts to work in a manner that provides less wear and tear on the equipment
It can also reduce labor costs and help employees to work more effectively.
Tip #7 – Consider Kitting
You can group components and parts that are normally used together into kits to save space and to be able to move parts and products in a more effective manner.
You can create kits and use pallets with pallet collars to build layers of the kits for easy access and to cut down on situations where a product has to be held up because a part of the kit has been delayed.
It will also help with inventory as well. By kitting parts together you will easily be able to keep track of complete assemblies that are ready to ship.
If you have not done all of the above than you are not doing everything that you can to improve the efficacy of your warehouse.
Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to get the results that you hope for!