No matter how efficient your warehouse is, it can always be better. With just a few adjustments to your warehouse’s efficiency, you can improve overall productivity. And a leaner, more productive operation, of course, will boost your bottom line.
These six tips outlined below can help you get started.
1. Look Up
For a more space-efficient warehouse, make use of the room available vertically. Adding shelves above your current storage space maximizes the area you can use to store goods.
But don’t just haphazardly place things on shelves. It’s better to keep items you rarely access on the higher, harder-to-reach shelves. More frequently used items should be on lower shelves. Not only does this make the most of your space, it also makes better use of your employees’ time.
2. Automate Storage and Part Retrieval
The more you automate in your warehouse, the more you increase productivity. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are ideal solutions when increasing shelving height, as they require much less floor space and help keep your employees safe. These systems also boost productivity since they reduce the number of workers needed; to operate AS/RS, you’ll need just half the personnel for maintenance, scheduling, and supervisory positions that you'd need for forklift operations.
AS/RS also improve your accuracy, and productivity increases in turn since workers don’t have to spend time correcting errors in picking. And finally, AS/RS help prevent accidents caused by forklifts, since automated storage and retrieval systems reduce the number of these machines needed to begin with.
3. Create Metrics to Measure Success
How much you increase your facility’s productivity depends on where you start. Many solution consultants recommend communicating and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). To do so, create a baseline and identify three to five metrics you can track and target. It will be easier to reach your goals with a handful of attainable achievements, rather than a dozen.
Keep track of your KPIs and communicate with your employees about progress toward your goals. Doing so will ensure everyone is on the same path to success in boosting productivity and efficiency.
And to help keep track of your goals, embrace tracking technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), which connects devices and equipment, allowing them to “communicate” with one another and aggregate the data for improved automation. By 2030, IoT is predicted to contribute to $15 trillion in production, so get in on it now.
4. Make Your Warehouse Safer
Increasing safety helps both your employees and your warehouse reduce downtime. OSHA estimates that facilities that eliminate the top four safety violations could save 3,100 lives. The most common violations are as follows: a lack of clear safety markings and equipment, such as signs and barriers; improper or no fall protection; safety violations in scaffolding; and failure to correctly use personal protective equipment, such as respirators.
Plus, improving the safety of your warehouse keeps your workers on the job and off medical leave while reducing your own liability. With a safer warehouse, you’ll be more productive and incur fewer costs in workers’ comp. And your workforce will be happier knowing they’re protected and looked after on the job.
5. Incentivize Performance
As you track your facility’s productivity, offer incentives for reaching goals. This will encourage your employees to work harder toward reducing downtime and waste.
If you don’t have AS/RS, more than 50% of your workers will be involved in packing and picking parts; these are the employees you can incentivize first.
6. Keep Improving
Don’t stop looking for ways to improve productivity. It should always be an ongoing process.
Poll your workers who have the most hands-on experience in your warehouse. Try out some of their ideas for new ways to make your facility more efficient. Doing so will also encourage your employees to communicate their concerns with you, enhancing team loyalty and collaboration.
Start Today to Improve Your Productivity
Don’t delay taking the steps needed to improve your facility’s productivity. Streamlining your processes will improve your profits, leaving you with more money to incentivize your employees for higher productivity. The cycle continues from there, ultimately resulting in a better bottom line, higher workplace morale, and improved warehouse efficiency and safety.
Even making minor changes in your warehouse can help. So begin today for a more efficient warehouse tomorrow.
Image Credit: Faezal Omar Baki/Shutterstock.com