Warehouse management is one of the most critical functions in any inventory-heavy industry. From planning for labor and equipment, to scheduling incoming and outgoing shipments, to, arranging and tracking the goods received; managing the complex processes of a warehouse is no simple task. Yet still 46% of small to medium-sized business have no formal, automated method in place for tracking and managing inventory.
Thankfully, improving the management and shipment of inventory is not as difficult as it seems. Here are a few simple steps any company can take to tighten up its warehouse operations
Make Better use of Floor Space
Instead of investing in expansion, or additional premises, free up additional yardage by improving your warehouse layout. Use storage spaces that are taller rather than wider, solutions such as pallet racking will optimize your use of vertical space. Store all similar items together, in a methodical order. Make sure that items with a shorter shelf-life are included in one grouping, small items are assigned to appropriate storage spaces and items of one type are all located in one area. This will ensure that there is less spoilage, less loss of goods and that existing space is maximized. Make sure that any goods that do not need to be stores locally are shipped out of the warehouse, by only using the space you need you can lower storage, maintenance and security costs.
Invest in Technology
Nowadays any company engaged in distribution that does not an up-to-date Warehouse Management System is missing out on crucial business opportunities. A good WMS can help schedule staffing needs on the basis of anticipated shipments, it can track any received or shipped goods via barcodes and it can help plan surveillance and maintenance routes. WMS allows your business to keep track of critical performance measures such as costs of shipping per order, cost of errors, and costs of returned goods. By allowing you to keep track of sensitive metrics, WMS allows you to focus on making continuous improvements, especially in critical areas.
Improve Labor Productivity
Workforce is often the most cost-intensive area of warehouse operations. Managers must communicate the importance of key KPIs to employees, the idea of constant improvement in processes must become integrated into warehouse culture. Managers should encourage constant feedback from pick and pack workers in order to find areas where efficiency can be fostered; implementing suggestions will improve workforce engagement. Warehouse supervisors and management must be given adequate training to help them understand the needs of vendors, customer as well as inventory requirements. Where necessary implement incentive pay to link increases in efficiency to greater compensation, make sure targets are competitive but achievable.
Vendor Compliance Policies
Your new focus on tracking performance metrics should include an examination of vendor deliveries. Are vendors delivering goods earlier or later than promised? Are the goods that are being received of the correct quality? Are they properly packaged? Are barcodes properly attached, and goods properly labeled?
It’s important that vendors are aware of the expectations for delivery and that processes are in place for dealing with continued non-compliance. Metrics proving deficiencies in timing or quality of delivery should be presented to vendors so that they have the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments. Pursuing this policy will reduce holding costs, increase delivery times and ensure customers are receiving proper quality goods.