Workforce inefficiency can be a huge problem in warehouse management as it could cost businesses thousands of man hours and affect customer satisfaction levels. If it's been a while since you last had a look at efficiency levels within your warehouse, now's a good time to reassess. Here are some strategic ways to help you improve your warehouse management...
Pick errors can happen at any time, even when there is automation in place. A staff incentive programme is a great way to encourage staff to be more vigilant, productive, accurate and more inclined to take the initiative to correct issues.
Compare errors against documented procedural changes
Accurate inventory is an essential benchmark for any warehouse for inventory control methods, but it is also a necessity for success. The majority of warehouse managers like to keep very close tabs on their error rates. Those rates fluctuate, however, making it difficult to know whether the cause is improperly implemented technology, inadequate training, work negligence, or unrealistic expectations. Managers should document all changes in the warehouse meticulously. This log can then be compared to changing error rates over time. With this information, it's possible to see which changes have an effect on error rates, both positively and negatively.
The undercover boss
While the cliche would have it that the boss wandering the warehouse floor disguised as a common worker experiences some kind of personal epiphany, the reality is that having your leader walking the floor can be instrumental in discovering extraneous activities which could otherwise go unnoticed. Have senior members of your management team gain first-hand experience by helping out in the warehouse for a few hours - while they are there, they can ask staff ‘why’ tasks are carried out in the manner that they are, uncover issues that are affecting productivity, assess morale levels and bond with staff.
Review your layout
Warehouse inventory arrangement can have an impact on picking productivity. Consider storing fast-moving inventory in a place that is easily accessible and place slow-moving items higher up or towards the back of the warehouse. When space is limited maximising vertical space for storage can be hugely beneficial. These warehouse solutions can lead to creating a better, tidier and safer environment.
Consider your technology options
The growth of Internet of Things (IoT) within the manufacturing and distribution sector, makes it a good time to review the solutions available on the market that can help you improve your warehouse management activities. There are many options available from standalone Warehouse Management Systems to an integrated ERP system with built-in warehouse management functionality.
Perhaps the most important strategy to remember is that no amount of technological retrofitting or new warehouse management systems break the bad habits of workers. Investing in effective technological solutions like inventory management software or an ERP system is an excellent plan that will help improve productivity and prove to be a massive time saver, but your return on investment will be limited if the staff are inefficient and unregulated.
Make sure you take the time to train staff properly in the use of the new technology and implement a system that monitors the effectiveness of the tech and the workers. A new ERP system can do wonders for your warehouse, like increasing efficiency and accuracy, but only if you allow it to work as it is supposed to.