3 Areas to Examine to Improve Warehouse Operations

Improving warehouse operations should be top of mind for all business owners. Inventory always represents a large portion of a company’s assets. Managing these assets wisely to preserve, protect, and use them well is an essential part of running a sound business.

Yet warehouse managers are often too busy handling the daily priorities and emergencies of the typical warehouse to tackle systematic problems that can prevent efficient operations. Rush orders, returns, shipments, backstock … the list goes on of things that are often more pressing than improving warehouse operations.

We’ve put together this list of the top 3 areas to examine to help you improve warehouse operations. We’ve also added another free resource to our list of reports available to download. Get a copy today of 10 Ways to Optimize Warehouse Operations.

3 Ways to Optimize Warehouse Operations

  1. Identify inventory challenges: Two typical warehouse challenges are under- and overstocks. Among the two, overstocks are the costliest. The problem of being understocked can usually be rectified quickly through rush shipments or simple reorders. An overstocked warehouse, however, represents a deeper problem. Typically, a warehouse that’s overstocked is a warehouse that has issues with inventory control. Investing in simplified barcode scanners that can help you take inventory quickly and easily and new barcode scanner software that integrates with your ERP system may help with overstocked items. Overstocked items mean a gap between known inventory and needs. Someone ordered more because they thought you were out of the item. Accurate inventory counts and easy access to inventory counts through your company’s ERP take the guesswork out of maintaining constant inventory levels and prevent overordering.
  2. Reduce picking mistakes: Have you ever analyzed the cost of misplaced items, mispicks, and returns due to mispicks? The costs can be extraordinary, especially if several items are consistently mispicked. Cautioning your team to be more careful doesn’t do much good. You need to get to the cause of the mistake. Typically, the answer lies in the way the warehouse is set up. People are making mistakes for a reason. Try shifting the way the warehouse is set up or moving the mispicked items to another area. One warehouse had mispicked items because two items with SKUs only one digit off from each other, and in nearly identical packaging, were placed on the shelf next to each other without a divider. Moving one of the items to a different rack and color-coding the tag on the box helped reduce mispicks down to almost zero. It’s little things like that which can make a big difference and save money and frustration from returns by preventing mistakes in the first place.
  3. Personnel issues: Systems, technology, and people make up the three-part team that builds strong companies. The systems and technology used in your warehouse should free up the people to handle more complex tasks. If they aren’t, and if people feel like they are the servants of technology or slaves to the system, something is wrong. Another issue that can arise with personnel is lack of training. The best systems and technology in the world won’t help you if your staff doesn’t know how to use them. Look at the roles people have on the team, how they are working together, and if they are using the technology you have in place to its fullest capabilities. If not, ask them why not; find out directly from your staff what the roadblocks might be and work with them on a solution.

Start With a Warehouse Assessment

If you’re still having trouble identifying areas for improvement, consider conducting a warehouse assessment. Begin with the data from your warehouse: orders shipped, inventory managed, staffing numbers, returns, backstocks, turnover, and more. From there, visually inspect the warehouse. Note areas where there are bottlenecks. Talk to your team and learn directly from them what might need to be done to address some of the issues you spot. Together, you can create a leaner, more efficient warehouse that offers your company enormous benefits through well-managed inventory.

Looking for information on barcode scanners, warehouse operations software, ERP software, or other systems and technology to improve efficiency? Emerald TC has the solution. For more information on the systems and software to improve warehouse operations, contact us or call 678-456-6919.

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