Taking into account how much warehouse operations have evolved in the previous couple of years, the current state is both exciting and demanding.
The rapid growth of eCommerce has created a need for regional fulfillment centers that place a greater emphasis on last-mile performance than on warehousing and distribution centers.
Pandemic-related supply chain difficulties have prompted companies to increase buffer stocks, driving up prices and squeezing the availability of storage facilities worldwide.
Warehouses must now transition from pallet handling to item-level picking with fewer staff in less space, all while maintaining high customer expectations for price, availability, and ability to deliver right away or on the next-day promise.
Only through boosting warehouse operations will your businesses be able to rise to this challenge.
Productive warehouse operations involve more than just meeting shipping deadlines and keeping inventory in its desired alignment.
With maximized productivity, your business will thrive with an improved work environment, happier employees, and more savings.
But how can your business achieve that?
A Smart Warehouse Is an Efficient Warehouse
Taking your warehouse to the cloud is the best possible decision you can make for your business today. And we’re not talking about the skies, we’re talking about cloud computing systems that bring you:
- Increased efficiency
- Seamless workflows
- Remote control
- Enhanced worker safety
- Employees that contribute the greatest value
- More control over production costs
- Business growth
Although this upgrade may seem costly to you now, the return on investment is definitely worth considering.
Considering the future of the job market and production patterns, investing in automation will make even more sense as the shortage of workers forces businesses to seek alternative approaches.
Each and every crucial decision your company makes can be improved by integrating your inventory data with the rest of your enterprise. And apart from going digital, there is still room for improvement.
In order to help you understand why cloud computing and good planning are so important, let’s go over 5 ways to improve your business through smart decisions.
Implementing WMS software (warehouse management system software) can increase efficiency and transparency in the supply chain while at the same time automating processes like scheduling and accounting with real-time data.
Tools like mobile-powered carts can also be used within a warehouse to speed up the picking and packing process. Orders can be filled more quickly and with more precision, if workers don’t have to leave the warehouse floor to retrieve paperwork.
Not to mention that correct labeling, scanning items in and out, as well as comparing finished products to packaging documentation with complete visibility and control are just some of the additional benefits of WMS software solutions.
2. Layout Optimization
The most effective warehouses will naturally have optimal layouts. But if your employees aren’t adhering to the correct protocols, even the most well-organized warehouse can quickly become unmanageable.
The first thing that has to be done is to create a solid foundation with a good plan.
Most efficient warehouses are optimized according to sales volume. With reliable WMS software, you are able to determine which products are the most desired ones and then stock them in regions that are most conveniently located for shipping and receiving.
This will reduce the distance that these items must travel when entering and leaving the warehouse. Warehouse layout also involves thinking about factors like circulation paths, receiving and shipping areas, as well as the storage environment.
The importance of mutual respect between management and staff is an often-ignored cornerstone of lean operations. Eliminating needless motions from a warehouse layout is more than just saving time and money. It expresses your appreciation for employees’ time and effort as well as your willingness to enable them to offer value to operations in any way feasible
Your employees will be more productive over the course of a shift if they are not required to make as many empty trips between workstations. And it’s not just useful for improving efficiency indicators. It’s good for the morale of the workforce as a whole.
Simple changes such as minimizing footprints, enhancing signage, introducing scannable barcodes, and coordinating fulfillment duties with mobile devices and a WMS can help create a work environment that operates smoothly and eliminates wasted effort.
It may seem like you’re taking tasks away from your employees. But in fact, you are giving your employees more time (and patience) to focus on bringing value to the front.
And yes, there is more you can do without just digitizing your business. You need to think about the space you use as well, especially the ways you use it.
For a multitude of reasons, warehouses can suddenly run out of storage space. Poor inventory control systems, a slew of popular items that demand additional space, and obsolete merchandise that takes up valuable shelf space are some examples.
Various ideas for increasing warehouse storage capacity usage include:
- Cherishing the vertical space: Most warehouse owners overlook their precious vertical space. You may virtually quadruple the floor space in your warehouse by adding a mezzanine or vertical carousel modules that employ all available ceiling height to take up as little space as possible.
- Going double: Think about changing from single-deep to double-deep storage units. This way, the pallets are stacked at two depths, allowing better storage density while keeping access to the pallets simple and rapid.
- Being strategic: Rather than simply placing incoming pallets anywhere, locate strategically directed put-away spots for incoming material and items.
A warehouse’s duties extend beyond simply stocking new items and shipping orders. Whether it’s a result of a recall or an item’s expiration date, there are situations in which it must be returned.
This procedure, known as reverse logistics, can cause blockages in a warehouse if it is not managed well. But it can be extremely beneficial to a company if it is given special attention.
In order to properly address reverse logistics, your warehouse can institute a streamlined procedure for receiving returns, sorting recyclables, and processing them for reuse.
It is important to maintain open communication with your customers by processing all returns through your WMS.
Create a special area in your warehouse where returned items can be inspected before being returned to stock, repaired, recycled, or discounted and sold.
Adjusting is Key to Progress
Improving a business is challenging if there is no data to show how well or poorly it is doing. Progress can be monitored with smarter business decisions thanks to the data provided by different technological solutions and well-organized warehouse systems that are built to last.
There are always methods to increase productivity in your warehouse, no matter how well things are going now.
Smarter inventory systems, more respect for your employees, as well as reverse logistics are just some of the possible ideas you’ll need to focus your efforts on.
Just make sure to keep in mind that there is no silver bullet solution that can solve all of our present problems with supply chains, warehouses, distribution, and retaining employees.
You need to be sure that the technologies you select to use in your business are, in fact, integrated, or else you’ll have a mishmash that will be difficult to maintain and will consume more time and resources than it’s worth.