Even if you believe that your warehouse is running efficiently, it is likely that there is still room for improvement and development.
An Intermec study draws attention to the importance of an efficient warehouse, after finding that the average warehouse in the UK loses as many as 3,000 hours annually as a result of unproductive work. While it is inevitable that there will be some lost hours, 3,000 annually is a significant amount, especially when you consider what this means in terms of productivity levels and profits. It is therefore vital that you consider evaluating your warehouse space to ensure it is optimised to its full potential and excess lost hours are kept to a minimum.
If the Intermec figures have made you begin to question the way your warehouse operates, and you are keen to explore warehouse management tips and money saving solutions, then here are some key areas to consider.
Implement Effective Warehouse Management Systems and Software
Warehouse management systems and software are the perfect way to keep an accurate account of the day-to-day operation of your warehouse. The software enables you to have centralised control of tasks and track inventory and stock levels as well as their locations within the warehouse.
Warehouse management systems will allow you to identify where potential losses are coming from and how to manage this, which can be of advantage to companies who deal in products that can be easily spoiled. As every loss could potentially cost time, money or both, if your warehouse has had an acceptance for lost or spoiled products, this software will enable you to identify it and lower it. However, with the vast range of systems available it is important that you take time to research the best system available for your specific company needs.
How Ergonomic is your Equipment?
Your employees are your most important asset within the workhouse, and the backbone of the operation. It is therefore important to look after your staff, as well as their health, to maintain worker productivity. Investments into ergonomic equipment will result in your employees remaining refreshed and focused, and can even reduce any time off work from illness or stress. However, investment in ergonomic equipment, like with warehouse management systems, should be carefully researched prior to purchase in order to measure the speed of your return on investment. Something as simple as ensuring a properly-regulated warehouse temperature throughout the summer and winter months can have very positive results in terms of the productivity of the workforce, and with air handling units positioned efficiently within a building, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. However, with simple products such as ergonomic mats and adjustable tables you can almost certainly provide immediate and recognisable benefits for your staff. This will be recognised and appreciated and boost worker morale, which in turn will result in higher productivity.
Smarter Workplace Structure and Organisation
If your workplace doesn’t have a structure, then the chances are it is not operating at full capacity. While structure is essential in any warehouse, so too is the type that you opt for. The 5 ‘S’ structure, which was created in Japan, is a favoured structure type as it can encourage and stimulate worker involvement directly in the company’s bottom line. The 5 ‘S’ structure has seen success within the food processing and manufacturing industries. However, as its key themes are predominantly based on efficiency, it can be transferred to and implemented in any sector or situation.
The 5’s’ structure comprises of:
Review your Pallet Racking Systems
It is highly unlikely that your warehouse does not or has not included pallet racks at some point; illustrating their importance within this environment. Pallet racks enable you to save on space, particularly horizontally, and allow you to locate and store things more effectively, as well as allowing machines and people to ably transport products and manoeuvre between the additional space. Sophisticated racking systems, such as the instillation of a mezzanine floor, can increase the capacity of the warehouse by almost two-fold.
Invest in Warehouse Safety and Education Programmes
In a time when even the utterance of health and safety is shortly followed by the words ‘gone mad’, anyone in this industry and with their own warehouse will be aware of the sheer importance of health and safety. In fact, investments into warehouse safety are possibly the biggest and most important that you can or will make.
While your warehouse will already be following its own standard safety procedures, it is found that the average safety procedures are often inadequate. OSHA has a public list of fines that have been issued for breached or inadequate safety practices, with fines often running into six figures. It is therefore important that warehouse safety education is not only in place but is also robust. Do not make the mistake of waiting for an incident to happen before you make or notice the need for improvements, as it will then be much too late.
In summary, it is important to adapt and modernise your warehouse space to create a more efficient work environment, as well as potentially saving your company money. This can be made from the quantifiable warehouse solutions provided, as well as reviewing case studies of other warehouses that have used similar technology. This way you can pick and choose what works for you and is best for your company’s specific needs.