The Traditional Way to Make Your Warehouse More Efficient
Efficiency in the warehouse is what promotes productivity, often workers are measured against the volume of work they undertake within a set time, but conditions beyond their control can result in less work being completed. These challenges can easily be avoided in order to improve productivity.
- Analyze Picking Methodology
As with ergonomic considerations (ex. designing the workstation to suit the particular work being done), it’s also important to determine whether the current picking methodology appropriately suits the organisation. Making the right order picking choices directly impacts supply chain productivity, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Consider different order picking methods
- Zone picking: Each order picker is assigned a specific zone and will only realize order picking within this zone.
- Batch picking: An order picker is assigned and picks multiple orders simultaneously, minimizing trips to each location.
- Wave picking: A variation of zone and batch picking. Rather than orders moving from one zone to the next for picking, all zones are picked at the same time and the items are later sorted and consolidated into individual orders/shipments
Touch items once
Focus on preventing errors during picking and you won’t need further repacking, or shipping checking. Picked inventory should go on trucks touched only by pickers. Also pick into shipping cartons instead of tote.
2. Rely on system verifications
Design your standard operating procedures to double-verify almost every step in the picking process. You can loosen this later as needed. For example, utilize area’s pick verification flags to have user scan and verify item/s, quantity, etc. Count Back or Count Near Zero can also be used to count remaining inventory in a location in-line with picking.
Eliminate walking and reduce fatigue for more accurate picks
You make more mistakes when you’re tired, and so do your order picking employees. Try to keep them still, not moving and you’ll see faster picks with fewer errors.
3. Consider different storage strategies
Different storage strategies can boost efficiency within a warehouse. For example, slotting may improve storage intensity, reduce accidents or product damage, reduce congestion and improve retrieval times. Review storage strategies on a regular basis in order to align your practices with seasonal demand.
Organize the Warehouse
You can gain tremendous efficiency by grouping together the 20 percent of your SKUs (item codes) that complete 80 percent of your orders. This cuts down on travel time for your pickers. Be sure, however, that the 80/20 area or zone is properly designed to accommodate high-volume activity.
4. Consider automation
Order pickers spend about 60 percent of their time walking product or moving product around. Consider an automated solution, such as conveyance, to reduce their extensive travel time. Add workstations with power to eliminate wasted steps. Take advantage of todays technological advancement, using industrial robotics will greatly help in increasing efficiency of your operations, you can actually operate 24/7 with your robotics.
5.) Continuous Process Improvement
With practice and time, companies learn internally how to work in an organized efficient manner, identify opportunities, and make changes accordingly. They also learn how to pinpoint areas where value is added, where value is absent, and how to dispose of invaluable waste.
A manufacturer that adopts the continuous improvement approach will see immeasurable benefits, including:
- Increased productivity
- Improved quality
- Lowered costs
- Decreased delivery times
- Improved employee satisfaction/morale
- Reduced employee turnover rate
6.) Reward your Employees
It’s important to keep workers motivated by rewarding them with recognition and rewards. When employees know they are being measured, then their accuracy and efficiency tends to improve. Their happiness with their job will result in positivity towards work and to the company, the workers tend to stay with the company will also feel an emotional bond with the company.
To increase warehouse efficiency, it is also very important to consult, ask and encourage the staff to think about ways to improve the process, speed in delivery time and also add more value to the service/product. These will be all possible only if sufficient time has been spent by each of the staff in their specific areas of responsibilities, they are in turn will be the experts of their areas more than anyone else. An idea has to be implemented especially if it is coming from the staff because it will in turn make them feel excited about and it will also improve their motivation and engagement. It will in fact discourage them from quitting their jobs because they are being engaged on how to improve the process.