As a warehouse owner or manager, you might be struggling with loads of things; however, if one area in your warehouse lacks certain things – it can affect your overall warehouse operations efficiency.
The thing about warehouse operations efficiency improvement is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated. All you need is to integrate the right technology and improve a few things on the floor – maybe, even add another floor and make more space without expanding the footprint.
Here are five ways you can improve your warehouse operations.
Centralize Your Data in Real-Time
By centralizing your data in real-time, you instantly gain visibility of what is happening at your warehouse. Centralized data doesn’t only allow visibility into warehouse processes, but it also allows you to establish effective communication with the different departments, suppliers, and vendors.
Centralized data makes it ultimately easier to have them back and forth. You need to operate as effectively as possible. When we talk about digital maturity, especially in a warehouse environment, we see a decreased reliance on paper.
In other words, you can move from loads of paper-based processes – where the collected data is being handwritten down. This obviously means that you cannot get it over to another location or another facility until someone converts that handwritten data to a digital format.
So the primary step can start with something as simple as having electronic forms with the ultimate goal of going paperless in your warehouse. Digitalizing is better and more innovative as opposed to using traditional pen and paper to collect data and keep records.
Integrate a Management System
Once you start to collect and digitize a lot of the information that you need, it has to end up somewhere. And this is when you should ideally start looking for something like an appropriate inventory management tool or a WMS (warehouse management system).
We aren’t referring to Excel, where you might have done a lot of your data entry until now. We are referring to an accurate system that can provide you with the visibility that you need to run your warehouse efficiently and help you arrange the workflows in the existing warehouse.
A good warehouse management system contains all the mandatory tools you need to efficiently organize the warehouse workflows. The management system can also help you streamline things, such as the barcoding, the pickups, the pack-ups, and the shipping itself.
So, by automating some warehouse workflows, including packing, you can reap enormous benefits, such as greater scalability and a reduced number of data errors. On top of that, it becomes much easier to manage the data you need to both communicate to other departments and improve communication on so many levels.
The improved communication includes communicating to potential suppliers that you may have a, more importantly, your customers who are at the receiving end of the products.
Use Your Warehouse Space Efficiently
So, once you have started to centralize your data and use an efficient warehouse management tool or an inventory management system, then you can start to ask some of the more interesting questions, such as what you are doing with your warehouse space.
The answer to this question greatly depends on your geographic location. For instance, warehouses are very low in Japan because they have a higher risk of earthquakes. In other words, while in Japan, they might focus on expanding their warehouse and have a bigger footprint, they cannot build tall and add floors.
Generally speaking, in the United States, you have warehouse space that can be very tall, and you can grow vertically and optimize your warehouse space. Many warehouse owners – who potentially realize the importance of optimizing the warehouse space have incorporated a storage mezzanine floor to make the best use of their space.
You can also integrate technology in different warehouse areas to speed up the process and save up on space, such as installing automated case packing in the packing area. Nonetheless, to optimize your warehouse space, you ought to check into other considerations, such as your aisle space – the aisle width you are using.
All of this only makes sense and is easy to evaluate once you have the data to see what products are being shipped most. You must also have a clear understanding of how often you are sending people to a specific location in the warehouse for a given item and what things look like from a manual labor workflow perspective to optimize that.
Assess Labeling & Shipping
Once you start using your warehouse space more effectively, then you can continue to address new things, such as your label and shipping compliance. If you have a streamlined set of operations, it becomes much easier to ensure that the labeling is going on in easy-to-access places.
You can also ensure that your warehouse workers are meeting all compliance standards. You can also consider things such as automatic labeling of the products as they are moved around the facility.
Another way to improve your warehouse operations efficiency is by integrating automation opportunities. In the advanced warehouse, warehouse employees are minimally involved in terms of only the picking that they are doing.
Automation allows you to immediately trace where a product is while using things like barcodes, and then you can monitor those things as they travel throughout the warehouse facility. Again, automation opportunities inside the warehouse allow you to make data-driven decisions on how to better optimize your warehouse space and other areas in the future.
Boost Your Order Fulfillment Accuracy
We can wrap up all things into improving the order fulfillment accuracy at your warehouse facility. Improving your order fulfillment accuracy includes going through the different warehouse processes without any errors, deviations, and defects.
You can start addressing that by turning through any inefficiencies you might have while driving up your order fulfillment accuracy. Once you have the previously-mentioned four steps in place, you will notice a significant difference in your warehouse operations.
In other words, once everything starts to fall in place, it is really going to drive customer engagement and your ultimate satisfaction from them in what they are receiving when they are purchasing the products from you.