No matter how well your warehouse is running, you can always find ways to improve efficiency. By taking a close look at how your warehouse is organized and how your employees work, you can find ways to shave off time and save cents that, over time, add up to true savings. The following suggestions point you toward ways you can improve your warehouse organization and efficiency.
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Communicate with your employees
Whenever you change some aspect of your warehouse, make sure you talk to your employees about it. Just telling them what has changed isn't enough; making sure they understand why you made the change can help them avoid otherwise hidden missteps, and they may even find ways to improve the process.
You should also have a way for employees to make suggestions about improvements. Remember: Your warehouse workers are the process experts. Use their knowledge to improve warehouse efficiency.
Have two keys (at least)
If you have anything that requires a key or special code to access - from high-priced or federally regulated products in a storage locker, to a departmental safe - always have at least two people scheduled at all times who have the necessary clearance. If employees need access, they shouldn't have to look far for the right person, or have to wait around for someone to get back from lunch.
Keep things clean
Sure, regular cleanings can keep your warehouse floor looking nice and limit tripping hazards, but more importantly, a good cleaning can reveal lost items. These are items that might otherwise be reordered, when it turns out that they might have rolled under a machine or a storage room door.
Put up signs
Navigating the warehouse floor should be easy. Put up colorful, well-designed signs around the area so that even the newest employee can get where he needs to go.
Add order to your storage
If a small portion of your stock accounts for a large percentage of your business, where and how you store those often-used items can save time and money. Consider these storage ideas:
- Put your most-used items in the same area - like a warehouse within a warehouse - and have it all located nearest to where your employees will be working.
- Put commonly used items on shelves in the waist-to-shoulder area for easy retrieval. Reserve top and bottom shelves for the most rarely used items.
Though it might seem counterintuitive at first - because you're adding a step to the process, not taking it away - double-checking your math can save time. Refilling a botched order often costs as much as or more than filling it correctly the first time, so adding a second quality control step to double-check the order can quickly pay for itself.
Research software and technology
All sorts of software applications and hardware technologies are available to make your warehouse processes more efficient. Look into solutions such as:
- RFID tags
- Bar codes
- Conveyer belts
- Automation solutions
These advanced technologies are time-savers just waiting to be put to good use.