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Keeping Warehouse Efficiency During the Busiest Periods

When a retail business experiences any busy periods, it’s the warehouse facility that needs to step up its game.

It’s vital that the warehouse ensures the right products are picked, packed, and shipped on time. In this guide we’ll explain how best to remain efficient during any busy periods. Simply read on for hints, tips and other helpful pieces of advice as we review a variety of warehouse factors including:

Staff Incentives

The Right Hardware

Identify the 20%

Continuous Improvement

Error Reductions

& Much More

STAFF INCENTIVES

71% of employees are not engaged in the workforce!

When choosing the right forklift fuel for your business, there are plenty of aspects to consider. These can include ease of use, sustainability, efficiency, cost, performance and much, much more. That’s why Locators has put together this quick and handy guide. We’ll cover the basics when it comes to the different forklift fuel types available, as well as their applications and advantages. With this information, you’ll be armed with the facts you need to make the right choice for you and your business.

Staff incentives will also help you . . .

   Boost productivity

   Focus employees on achieving targets

   Increase staff motivation morale and loyalty

   Retain existing staff

THE RIGHT HARDWARE

Few things will impact warehouse efficiency as much as its hardware (such as shelves, racking, and forklifts). As your busiest period approaches, the stock levels in your warehouse are likely to increase. Over the coming weeks and months, these will wildly fluctuate as units are shipped out and new items are brought in to replace them. It’s, therefore, crucial that the warehouse creates the smoothest process of incoming, storage, and outgoing goods.

To ensure you are best prepared for increased “traffic”, consult a storage solutions expert. An expert will be able to take a holistic view of your operations and determine the best use of space. For example, narrow aisles (between 1800mm and 2600mm) can increase storage density up to 25% over wide aisles. Whereas racking systems can provide a high-density solution – with rack heights of over 12 metres and operational aisle widths as low as 1.4 metres.

By reviewing your existing hardware, it’s possible to dramatically increase the amount of stock your warehouse can hold. This, of course, means a reduced number of incoming deliveries and associated tasks. Ones that will typically require your attention and time (both of which are already being stretched to capacity).

Cantilever racks are designed for the safe and organised storage of long and heavy items with the ability to hold in excess of 30 tonnes per upright. 

THINK ABOUT THE 20%

Did you know that just 20% of your stock will make up 80% of your company’s orders? Therefore, the placement of goods in your warehouse can make a huge difference to your efficiency. If you’re not already doing so, it’s vitally important to review your order details and identify your most popular items. These goods should then be stored as close as possible to your pickers and operatives.

As the opposite statistic shows, order picking is a costly activity for warehouses. Travel times make up a large proportion of this picking process (approximately 50%), so any reduction would be appreciated. In addition to storing the most popular items close to handlers, also ensure these products are stored at ground level or at least within arm’s reach. This will minimise the time it takes for staff to physically pick the item once they have reached the specific area within the warehouse. Faster picking and shorter travel distances ultimately mean a reduction in the time and energy needed. Plus an increase in capacity for every handler on your staff.

Picking processes are seen as the most labour-intensive and costly activity for almost every warehouse. The cost of order picking is estimated to be as much as 55% of the total warehouse experience.

 

WAREHOUSING & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

With the continued growth in e-commerce, warehouses need to constantly adapt and develop. Otherwise, how else will they continue to provide the best service to the business’ customers?

These can take the form of installing automation solutions or the latest warehouse management IT solutions. Although the ideas and suggestions can come from within your company, it’s worth consulting an external expert. By partnering with an expert who also offers a consultative approach, they’ll be able to prescribe the best solutions for your warehouse.

For example, what will suit your business best? Is it automation or manual processes? Is it high-bay or low-bay storage? Should you be considering shared storage opportunities? Is your facility fully secure?

These seem like fundamental questions that you’ve no doubt already asked of yourself (or your business). Yet it’s still surprising what the opinion of an outside expert can bring to the table. Importantly, external specialists will have the knowledge and experience to efficiently implement changes. So contacting them now could mean you are better positioned for busy times of the year – including the Christmas rush.

67% of warehouses plan to use mobile devices to manage inventory.

ERROR REDUCTIONS

Any picking errors will result in repeated tasks and ultimately reduced operational efficiency. With this in mind, errors need to be minimised, and where possible, eradicated from your warehouse. There are a few simple steps that can help you and your business achieve this, but they should not be taken lightly. Only by fully committing to these new processes are you likely to see continued success.

Start by labelling everything in the warehouse and ensuring that existing labels are clear and visible. From here, begin to track your entire inventory, including items’ location and relevant serial numbers. This tracking exercise should include all units, including those in overstock locations. Where possible, utilise technology such as barcodes and scanners. This will ensure that all information on inventory is stored centrally and in a digital format. And finally, assign each pick to a particular staff member. This way, any issues and errors can be attributed to that individual. This will help you when it comes to identifying skill gaps and whether anyone needs further training. Once mistakes are minimised within your processes, the entire operation should run more smoothly.

Research from the University of Arkansas shows that using RFID increased inventory accuracy by 27% in just 13 weeks.

TIPS FOR STAYING EFFICIENT

   Use performance metrics to track employee productivity

   Reward high performing staff with incentives such as paid vacation days

   Consult experts for guidance on the best solutions for your warehouse

   Keep your most popular items close to warehouse handlers

   Place popular products at ground level or within arm’s reach

   Seek advice on staying up to date with the latest warehouse solutions (such as technology)

   Use barcodes and scanners to track all inventory (even overstock)

   Assign pick jobs to individual employees

   Review error rates to identify skill gaps and the need for further learning