Efficiency in the warehouse is critical when it comes to a company’s bottom line. Keeping accurate inventory counts and moving product in and out on time and on schedule is only part of the strategy. Improving safety, rewarding employee efforts, and maximizing labor-hour productivity is always important.
For the coming year, think about what changes might need to be made in order for the warehouse operation to run like a well-oiled machine.
Rearrange If Necessary
Most warehouses are stocked according to product type. This does indeed make it easier to know where incoming product is to be stored, but it might also mean longer trips by the order pullers.
In fact, much time is wasted in the warehouse by running forklift trucks and hand carts from one end of the building to another.
Think about which products are the most commonly moved. These are probably best-sellers and arrive in bulk more often than other items. They are also shipped more frequently, even if only a few of these items are loaded onto freight trucks on a daily basis.
Keeping these items together rather than stocked by product type can actually save a lot of time. It also helps to rearrange the aisles so that these products are located closest to the quality control and loading areas.
If order pickers spend less time moving products, the resulting efficiency increase will be noticed immediately.
Make The Warehouse Safer
The number of potential hazards for warehouse employees is alarmingly high, and the main reason most work shifts run less efficiently than they should is the precautions employees must take in order to avoid accidents.
Clearly marking the run lanes for lift trucks, increasing visibility of hazard areas near loading bay doors, and labeling height restrictions on all the inventory shelves will be of great help to employees.
Warehouse managers are encouraged to look into the savings realized when inexpensive marking tapes, indoor curbs for concrete floors, and caution adhesives are purchased in bulk.
Installing these items makes it much easier for employees to move about on motorized equipment because the clear markings actually give them more of a feeling of confidence.
Take a look at the number and placement location of all fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Remember that just because the safety code personnel gave a passing grade during the last inspection, it doesn’t mean history will repeat itself.
Know the minimum number of extinguishers per square foot and adhere to this rule. Also, look into the possibility of installing a fire and gas detection system that can be monitored from a centralized location.
Improve Employee Morale
Distractions in the warehouse environment are an invitation for danger, but running too tight of a ship can darken the workers’ mood.
If there are areas where employees gather to rest or do paperwork, allow a radio to play. This has been shown to increase productivity because people respond favorably to occasional exposure to music.
Set a small amount of petty cash aside for special lunch orders for the employees. Announce these lunch parties ahead of time and schedule them regularly.
It’s amazing how much of a work increase is seen when order pullers, inventory personnel, and quality controllers are looking forward to a catered lunch event.