The storage industry really took in recent years, as more and more businesses are moving exclusively online and relying on shipping companies to deliver their products. Warehouses have become real assets, so making them more productive is a constant struggle.
Luckily, there are at least 10 simple ways to increase warehouse productivity.
Reconsider the layout of the warehouse
A warehouse should be designed like a race track to allow the cargo to race through it. Warehouse efficiency goes hand in hand with a warehouse layout that allows people and vehicles to “glide” through the building.
Unless the warehouse is easy to navigate, delays and accidents are going to be frequent, which will shatter productivity. You need to map out the most common routes through the warehouse and clear them of all the obstacles.
Although the market is getting bigger by the day, demand and supply are still fluctuating. However, you can guess pretty accurately certain periods during the year when demand spikes, such as the holiday season in December. Amazon alone hires some 100k extra workers during this busy period.
Warehouse owners don’t have to hire more people since modern warehouses are pretty much automated. However, you can temporarily expand your warehouse’s capacity during the holiday season, even outsourcing storage units.
Give out incentives
The aforementioned workers are at the heart of a warehouse’s daily operations. Even when the warehouse is fully automated, they play a key role in overseeing the loading, unloading, stacking, etc. Unlike machines that dully deliver day and night, human beings are more precarious, so an ambitious performance target should be accompanied by a monetary incentive.
Install an AIDC system
Speaking of performance targets, they are essential for warehouses, as they dictate the speed of pallets circulating through the warehouse. Automatic data capture and identification system, or short AIDC, is an integral part of a warehouse that aims to increase efficiency.
AIDC grants you access to valuable and reliable data, using which you can analyze the daily operations of the warehouse. After you input such data, you will be able to set a realistic target, the realization of which won’t jeopardize safety.
The role of safety regulations
One might think that safety measures only slow down a warehouse. However, following safety procedures prevents accidents and it ensures the warehouse runs 24/7, being able to meet demanding performance targets.
For instance, the most benign of injuries causes all operations to cease in that section of the warehouse, the worker who gets injured is done working for the day, and he/she might end up suing the company for negligence. All this will transpire just because you failed to install a safety light or an anti-slip mat.
Consider hiring equipment
The best way to speed up operations inside the warehouse is to increase the sheer volume of packages you can handle. This requires more forklifts and multi-pallet handlers but these cost a pretty penny. A far wiser solution is to find a forklift for hire and use it during the busiest periods, such as the holiday season.
In fact, you can hire pretty much any pieces of machinery you need. Unlike buying a vehicle, there is no capital cost, you get tax benefits, operating costs go down, and you gain security during the aforementioned peak periods.
Shelves are a quintessential part of every warehouse. However, it seems like there is always room for extra shelves that can extend upwards. This is a good move but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, the shelves need to be bolted to the floor, as the higher they are, the more unstable they get. Secondly, keep in mind that goods stored at the top are more exposed to the elements, as warehouse roofs are often left uninsulated.
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Keeping track of products
We rely heavily on GPS tracking when about the city. The same tracking technology is present in the warehouse, as the latest location tracking technology tells you where every single package is. The system is quite simple, as it uses labels and QR codes to scan all shipments.
An extra benefit of an automated tracking system, apart from reducing operating costs, is doing away with the need to hire more staff. As stated above, human operators mostly do the overseeing, which significantly reduces the cost of labor.
Improved staff training
Although you are going to employ fewer people, they have to be true professionals. When a worker lacks experience, the best way to teach them about the storage industry is to hold training sessions often. Training courses should be organized both for managers and blue-collar workers who handle shipments.
Some training courses will involve learning about new technologies that will be implemented in the warehouse, while others will focus on safety. Regardless of the topic, the training should include a bit of practice. For instance, safety training should be accompanied by a fire drill and evacuation.
The reason why various software that essentially run the warehouse for you, are so successful, is the fact machines automatically exchange information. This allows them to handle tasks in real-time. Workers should also be taught to share information often in an effort to share information. For them, it’s that much about speed but rather an openness to share info and be ready to accept suggestions.
Warehouse productivity is a goal every business strives for. In an era when online shopping is becoming a business model for many companies, warehouses have already become essential. A large warehouse that operates smoothly is a real asset, as productivity is the first step to expanding your storage (and shipping) business.