Warehouse management requires a lot of time and multitasking. Staying on top of each element of your warehouse is essential for efficiency and safety. Explore our top 8 tips for smooth warehouse management for maximum efficiency and productivity.
Leaving a warehouse—or any business, for that matter—in disarray is asking for trouble. If your product is spread all over the warehouse, no rhyme or reason to its location, you're wasteful of time, resources, space, and money. If pickers have to hunt through every box to find the one item they're looking for; your organization needs an upgrade.
a. Keep a tight and tidy inventory list. Use inventory software to make this a streamlined process. There are more details on this here.
b. Group similar items together. Save time for your pickers by grouping similar items together and items that are often purchased together.
c. Organize the floor logically and label everything, no matter how trivial the item seems.
d. Consider creating and posting a floor map so employees can find what they need at a glance.
Your receiving department is the gatekeeper to success, so give them the tools and the time they need to do their job efficiently and correctly, right from the start. Product coming in and sitting on the Receiving floor may show up in your inventory as 'available.' Due to time constraints or understaffing, it may not have been put in the proper place yet, and your pickers may not be able to locate it, and your customers could wind up frustrated and losing trust in you.
a. Receiving should have full access to inventory management software.
b. Staff Receiving with loyal employees and train them appropriately.
c. Give them enough time to log and move new inventory—be realistic about the time this step can take.
Having organized pick lists and a logical procedure to the picking process will improve your efficiency and decrease staff and customer frustration. How you organize the lists is up to you and will depend greatly on what products you're handling, but just as organization in inventory control is paramount, so is organization for your pickers. Apply the same logic to your pick lists as you do to your inventory organization, and be sure the records are accessible and easy to follow.
Technology has given us some incredible advances in organization, record keeping, and overall efficiency. Why not harness those innovations in your duties as a warehouse manager? Ridding your business of bulky paper, logbooks, and checklists is a great financial choice as well as an immediate time-saver. When each employee has access to appropriate software, you can keep track of their workday without being present or hovering over them, and you'll have an easily accessible record for any audits. Here's more information on how productivity software can help.
Change is everywhere. All things grow, change, and evolve, or they risk stagnation. Your warehouse is no different. Be prepared to reorganize if your logs show slowdowns or inefficiencies in one area, or if your employees have legitimate complaints about the way something is set up. Change is good—a logical change to your organization will further increase efficiency.
While the primary goal for any business is to make a profit, this should never be at the expense of quality. Allow your Quality Control department the time and tools they need to do their job efficiently and accurately. It's tempting to push things through each department as fast as possible, but there is a fine line between fast enough and too fast to catch problems. The worst scenario is that you push QC too fast and mistakes or bad products make it to your customers. Your reputation depends on quality, so let QC have the time, space, and tools to help your business grow.
Keeping your warehouse safe and secure should be a high priority. Beyond preventing theft or vandalism, you should also consider the safety and comfort of your employees. When employees feel that management cares about their safety and well-being, they are more likely to go the extra mile to be sure their job is done right. As warehouse management, it's your duty to be sure the building is secure, there is suitable lighting, tools and equipment are in good condition, and that your employees feel secure.
a. Keep the facilities in good condition—this includes lighting and electrical, plumbing, and storage.
b. Maintain impeccable logs of any repairs needed and be sure to handle them immediately.
c. Ensure all staff has excellent and ongoing safety training to reduce the chances of accidents.
d. Have an action plan in case of emergencies, and be sure each staff member knows the drill.
It's tempting to keep your head down and focus on the nuts and bolts of warehouse management, but you need to look up now and then to take stock of the whole situation. If you've followed this guide so far, you should have a very good base for an efficient and awesome warehouse, but you can't overlook the most important factor. Your customers need to be taken care of. This can be as simple as sending an occasional newsletter to announce new products or services or to offer fun incentives. It can be as complicated as sending individual surveys to past customers to see how you can improve. You'll likely be in charge of customer satisfaction, but you should have staff working with you here, too. Train them in customer service, and they'll be an invaluable part of keeping your customers coming back. Whatever method you use, be sure your customers are happy and that they are heard. After all, without your customers, your business would flop.