Cost-cutting and efficiency improvements have become inevitable in today's competitive business environment. There are many ways to make warehouse operations more efficient and cost-effective. Such changes need not always be big-ticket improvements. Here are six little changes that can make a big difference in warehousing operations.
1. Use space more effectively
Optimal use of warehouse space reduces energy costs and increases storage area. It means lesser lighting, forklift movement, and work. All these improve savings, productivity, and efficiency in a big way.
Here are some handy tips to make the most of your warehouse space.
• Stack items vertically. Use tall shelves, racks, and vertical carousels to store more things in the same space.
• Optimize aisle space for extra storage. But while optimizing the warehouse for space, ensure the design allows for easy movement of goods and people.
2. Streamline receiving process
Often, receiving goods is a significant bottleneck in warehouse operations. Delays in receiving disrupt the flow of materials throughout the warehouse. Streamlining the receiving process involves speeding up incoming shipment processing and eliminating unnecessary tasks involved in the inward processing of shipments.
Some steps to improve the receiving process include:
• Weeding out inefficiencies and redundant processes that slow down the receiving process. Most warehouses perform multiple operations and string together such items to create workflows. Often, such workflows have duplicate and unnecessary tasks, slowing the whole process.
• Quality control (QC) checks at the receiving stage to catch any discrepancies or errors in the incoming shipment. A robust QC ensures proper documentation and storage for every cargo type, avoiding causes of mix-ups later on.
3. Implement cross-docking
In cross-docking, warehouses receive items and immediately ship them out to customers. The warehouse does not process these items for storage. The need for storage space reduces, and order fulfillment speeds up.
Cross docking works when the products have high demand and turnover. But there should be adequate measures to ensure:
• The warehouse has systems to receive, sort, and redistribute products in double-quick time.
• The incoming products come sorted and labelled for specific destinations. It will also help if there is a facility to mark products at the receiving stage to avoid confusion later.
4. Best practices for efficient storage
An organized and well-defined arrangement of goods in the warehouse increases productivity. Following certain put-away best practices is a good idea to deliver optimal results.
• Store everyday use items near the pick-up point to cut the travel required to pick up items.
• Consolidate warehouse items wherever possible.
• Track space availability regularly to make proactive decisions on storage locations instead of deciding where to place an item after receiving it.
• Move cargo directly from the receiving area to the final location without a staging phase. It speeds up the process and reduces handling and space requirements.
Cargoz offers warehouse management as a service for efficiently storing goods in the warehouse. Having well-organized storage enables faster retrieval, improving efficiency and safety.
5. Implement picking best practices
Picking is the costliest warehouse process. The process often consumes more than half the total warehouse operating expenses.
Here are some steps to carry out the picking process more effectively.
• Implement systems such as pick-to-light or put-to-light to guide pickers to the correct location and quantity of pick-up items.
• Use a pick-by-voice system to guide pickers through the picking process. A voice-based system reduces the need for pickers to consult a picking list or scan barcodes.
• Invest in pick carts or totes that allow pickers to carry multiple items, reducing the number of trips to complete a pick.
• Train employees on proper picking techniques. Ensure they know how to lift and carry items and safely use warehouse equipment.
6. Productive workforce
Each warehouse has its shortcomings that slow its efficiency. One of the best ways to identify this is by listening to the workforce. They will be able to pinpoint the exact cause of certain processes' slowing down and offer valuable insights on how things can be done more efficiently.
Organizing warehouse workstations also ensure employees work at peak efficiency. Key considerations include having
Ergonomic furniture so that employees do not strain or develop fatigue when on the job.
Have adequate shelves with clear labels to keep tools and equipment sorted, etc.
There is, however, no one-size-fits-all toolkit to improve warehousing. The best approach depends on evaluating and fine-tuning processes constantly.