Running a storage warehouse presents challenges on a day-to-day basis. Nevertheless, there are some issues that are more pressing than others and that have to be solved if your operation is to run smoothly.
Effective warehouse management can mean the difference between success and failure for your organisation. Therefore, addressing the major challenges that stand in the way of that is something that simply cannot be ignored.
These are the five big issues that any warehouse manager has to be on top of.
1. The design of the warehouse
While the design of the warehouse may not seem like it is a pressing issue, it is important to both efficiency and safety. A lot of warehouse spaces have items that are packaged and dispatched together stored in entirely different areas of the building. That makes no sense, because it will force workers who are picking items to make pointless and time-consuming journeys.
Your warehouse should be laid out according to logic and common sense. That means goods that are frequently dispatched at the same time should be stored close to each other. Then there is the safety issue.
A warehouse that is badly designed is one of things most likely to cause employee accidents or injuries. This can be because items are simply piled on top of each other rather than kept on proper storage racks, or because the racks used are made of cheap or flammable material instead of something strong and safe like steel.
At other times, it is because the layout does not allow workers to see where they are going clearly, which can be a particular problem if they are using forklifts and other warehouse machinery.
Your warehouse should have all items carefully stored on racks and shelves made of hard wearing steel and there should be clear paths for workers to get from one part of it to another.
2. The accuracy of your inventory
Clients and customers will expect items to be dispatched on time and for you to have a clear grasp of what goods you have in your warehouse. The only way that this can be successfully accomplished is with inventory tracking.
Without that, you are looking at delays in processing and dispatching orders, as well as clients receiving the wrong orders entirely. Aside from the amount that it will cost your company to deal with these errors and hold-ups, they will also do a massive amount of damage to the reputation of your business.
Digital inventory tracking, automation and a system of asset tagging are the processes that should be put in place to prevent that.
3. Picking efficiency
The time that is spent by workers finding and picking items that are needed for dispatch is a major efficiency issue for many warehouses. A study conducted found that the time taken to walk to the necessary part of the warehouse and pick each item individually by hand accounts for over half of all time spent on this.
Putting in place a warehouse management system (WMS) will help to minimise this time wastage. It will produce lists of items to be picked automatically and provide real-time evidence of your warehouse’s available inventory. That will let pickers determine when the demand for items will rise based on current order statuses.
Producing metrics to determine which parts of your picking processes are working well and which are inefficient will also be a good way to get at the root of the problem. Solutions include durable steel picking trolleys that let workers move multiple items in a single trip.
4. Redundant processes
Redundant processes mean those parts of the everyday operations of a warehouse that are not necessary but continue because a comprehensive operational review has not been conducted. Most warehouses will be engaged in several workflows at a single time during a typical, busy day and that means some parts of the processing – often sorting – get unnecessarily repeated.
It may not seem like a particularly big deal, but it uses up valuable time and also costs your business in terms of labour. Carrying out a study of your warehouse operations to identify time and energy wastage is the first step in addressing the problem.
Then consider automating processes where possible. That can save your company in both time and labour.
5. Maximising capacity
When companies grow, they often find that their business premises struggle to accommodate this and that is true for warehouse operations. If moving to a larger warehouse or expanding your existing one is not an option, you will have to maximise the space.
A mix of automation plus smart positioning of storage shelves and racks will help with that.
At Steely Products, we manufacture and sell toughened steel warehouse shelves, racks and picking trolleys, among other products. Use the contact form to get in touch or place an order.Get a free quote