Maintaining an organized and efficient warehouse space will maximize your workspace productivity and save time and costs. Strategies for organizing items and logging inventory will streamline processes and save time.
Training staff on your warehouse procedures will improve your management systems as well. Each employee should specialize in one step in the supply chain including picking, packing, shipping inventory logging, shipping, or receiving.
Human error is the number one cause of reduced efficiency, costliness, and lack of time management. When managing your warehouse with a warehouse management system and organization strategies, you will maximize productivity and reduce errors in your warehouse.
1. Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
A warehouse management system (WMS) will provide an instant account for all your warehouse inventory and streamline processes to inventory management to reduce the negative impacts of human error.
A WMS will give you real-time information and updates as inventory is picked, packed, shipped, and delivered to and from your warehouse, reducing the need for time-consuming warehouse audits.
The warehouse layout should optimize space for your workers to navigate their workstations easily. There should be ample space to quickly access the inventory shelves and bins to find items on packing lists. Any tools and machines like forklifts or dollies should be stored out of the way of high-traffic areas.
The warehouse layout should streamline the process of receiving deliveries, storing inventory, managing inventory, and shipping. Receiving docks should be open and clear with directions for storing and organizing new inventory.
And shipping areas should be set up to scan and offload directly onto trucks by minimizing multi-step packing and shipping procedures. You should consider which materials will best fit the climate and temperature of your warehouse. Plastic storage bins are great lightweight and durable options with high reusability.
Training your staff on your procedures and WMS will improve the efficiency of the warehouse and boost productivity. In addition, training your staff early on will help each member of your team have positive work habits, which will help reduce errors and miscommunication.
Each team member should know how to use their scanner, correctly add, and remove inventory and understand how to use equipment safely. Safety protocols should be reviewed frequently through safety briefings to continuously remind workers of proper procedures.
4. Labeling and Bins
Inventory organization is key to workplace organization and efficiency. Labeling each item with a SKU will help manage inventory by helping you log it in your WMS. This allows the system to track each item’s storage location and keep updated inventory records to determine which items have shipped or been received.
You should strive to keep count of inventory that is not selling, has a recall, or has expired to maintain the most current inventory and reduce the clutter of your storage space.
Metal bins with lids are great for maximizing space and keeping inventory free of bugs and moisture. Furthermore, industrial wire baskets are ideal for maintaining the visibility of products so that workers can quickly locate them in the storage location.
Source: Vincent DeMilio/shutterstock.com
5. Inventory Management
You should implement a warehouse management system that includes mobile features that support each part of the supply chain. Pickers can use a digital picking list to locate and scan items for packing quickly.
Having a mobile scanner will ensure that pickers are selecting the correct product and can instantly scan it to keep real-time documentation of inventory movement. Mobilizing your warehouse procedures will aid with training your staff. In addition, automated warehouse systems can be set to alert staff of audits and schedule safety procedures so everyone is aware of warehouse protocols.
6. Preparing and Shipment Procedures
Packers should have a procedure for getting warehouse inventory from pickers and adequately preparing them for shipment. The utilization of digital packing lists will inform workers of proper packing protocols and produce shipping labels. Packing lists will give directions on which bins or storage location each package is to be stored, and shipping labels will ensure that they are scanned to monitor the status along the supply chain.
7. Prioritize Receiving Procedures
Receiving is one of the most critical functions of a warehouse. Proper intake procedures will help reduce future problems and cost time and money on the back end. Training receiving staff properly and implementing digital receiving software will improve your management system protocols at the receiving dock.
You should ensure that your receiving space is adequate for workers to complete their jobs efficiently. Supplying workers with enough space will ensure that items can be scanned correctly and sent to the correct storage location.
Additionally, you should create a receiving policy and thoroughly outline each team member’s job within the receiving area. It’s wise to outline a receiving procedure that dictates who is responsible for logging new inventory into the inventory tracking system. This helps workers know where to put the inventory, such as getting it into the correct shelving and bins in the designated storage location.
8. Dedicate Cleaning and Decluttering Time
Keep your warehouse clean by setting aside one to two hours a week to reorganize and pick up misplaced items around the warehouse. Through day-to-day operations, items will be misplaced or put in the wrong location. This will affect your workers and add to the time it takes to sift through items looking for the correct inventory. Dedicating an hour to maintaining the workspace will keep it manageable and keep it from evolving into a daunting task.
Decluttering your inventory of damaged or expired items will help keep your current inventory in ready-to-ship condition. You should employ lean inventory strategies to schedule only the inventory you need to arrive more frequently to its destination to match your shipment needs. This will keep your shelves clear of unused inventory and keep your storage area clutter-free.
Customize a System for Managing Your Warehouse
To maximize efficiency, select an organization and management system that encompasses many of these strategies and best fits your needs. The right system will optimize worker productivity. For example, if your warehouse has multiple shipment orders, you may need to configure your shipping storage area to accommodate more storage space. Or, if you have metal items that can damage or destroy plastic storage containers, it may be beneficial to utilize metal storage bins.