Keeping Warehouse Efficiency During the Busiest Periods

Introduction:

When a retail business experiences a busy period, it’s the warehouse function that needs to step up its game to ensure that the right products are picked, packed, and shipped on time.

In this guide we’ll review a variety of warehouse factors including staff motivations, hardware, continuous improvement and much more, to ensure you remain efficient during any busy periods. So, simply read on for hints, tips, and other helpful pieces of advice.

Staff Incentives

71% of employees are not engaged in the Workforce!

Picking and packing will make up the majority of tasks for your warehouse operatives, and with the increased requirements over the coming months,they are likely to be under growing pressure. so, make sure they are performing to the best of their ability and going the extra mile, by rewarding their efforts. these incentives can include additional paid vacation days, a financial bonus,or even a profit-share scheme.

To determine the outcome of these incentive programmes, simply measure your employees’ current performance (such as number of items picked per hour), then identify the employees who are going above and beyond this benchmark when thingsget busy. To keep staff engaged and enthused, offer increasing incentives for thosethat continue to push beyond the benchmark metric.

Staff incentives will also help you…

  • Retain existing staff
  • Increase staff motivation morale and loyalty
  • Boost productivity
  • Focus employees on achieving targets

The Right Hardware

Few things will impact warehouse efficiency as much as the hardware (such as shelves, racking, and forklifts). as your busiest period approaches, the stock levels in your warehouse are likely to increase. and, over the coming weeks and months these levels will fluctuate greatly as units are shipped out and new items are brought in to replace them. so, it’s vitally important to create the smoothest process of incoming, storage, and outgoing goods.

To ensure you are best prepared for this increased ‘traffic’, consult an expert that is 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, and racking systems can provide a high-density solution with rack heights of over 12 metres and operational aisle widths as low as 1.4 metresiii. So, by reviewing your existing hardware solutions, 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 which will typically require your attention and time (both of which are already being stretched to capacity).

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

Think About The 20%

Given that just 20% of your stock will make up 80% of your company’s orders, 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 the most popular items. these goods should then be stored as close as possible to your pickers and operatives.

As the previous statistic shows, order picking is a costly activity for warehouses, and with travel times making up a large proportion of this picking process (approximately 50%v), any reduction here wouldbe gratefully received. So, 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 ittakes 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.

Warehousing and Continuous Improvement

With the continued growth in e-commerce, warehouses and distribution centres need to constantly adapt and develop in order to provide the best service to the business’ customers. these developments can take the form of installing automation solutions or even implementing the latest warehouse management it solutions. now, although the ideas and suggestions can come from within your company, it’s also worth consulting an external expert who can prescribe the best solution for your company.

By partnering with a warehouse expert that 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 yourself (or your business), but it’s surprising what the opinion of an outside expert can bring to the table. Importantly, external specialists will have the knowledge and experience to implement changes quickly and efficiently, 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.so, with this in mind, errors need to be minimised, and where possible, eradicated from your warehouse. there are a few simple steps which 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 to ensure that all inventory information is storedcentrally and in a digital format. And finally, assign each pick to a particular staff member so that anyissues and errors can be attributed to an individual. This will help you to identify skill gaps and the needfor further training. Once mistakes are minimised within your processes, the entire operation should run more smoothly and efficiently.

Tips for Staying Efficient

To find out more about how to keep your warehouse efficency high even during the busiest of times, speak to one of our storage and forklift experts today on 01202 854 200 or email sales@locators.co.uk

What our clients say

Every time we look at an application, Locators approach it like a blank canvas and always recommend the best equipment for our business. Locators have proved themselves as a very reliable and proactive service provider by keeping our trucks working and our fleet costs as low as possible.

Adam Conrad
Group Transport Manager for Covers

Being able to work with one supplier for storage and materials handling has been a benefit to us. Locators managed the complete installation and ensured the correct materials handling equipment was specified for their design. They also service and maintain all of the equipment they have supplied and offer a rack inspection service to make sure our warehouse remains a safe working environment. We are very happy with our new facility and we believe we have made the best use of the available space.

Marc Congdon
Engineering Manager, Costa

We have worked with Locators for nearly 20 years. We are confident they can always make the best use of the space we have available and provide us with forklifts that are well suited for the long loads and other stock we have to move.

Colin Macgregor
Director, Y Goldberg

We purchased our first Toyota forklift from Locators 14 years ago for our farm. This truck has been very reliable and is still in service so we had no hesitation in deciding to purchase another Toyota machine. Locators recommended an electric forklift for our machinery depot as it is very quiet, has low running costs and does not create any pollution, making it ideal for working both inside and outside. Our operators are very pleased with our new Toyota truck and our business is very happy to be operating a forklift that has such a low impact on the environment.

Ed Smales
Director, NFFM

Locators installed the new racking system within a tight timeframe while our business was fully operational. They have provided us with a facility that has a similar storage capacity and reduced the size of our forklift fleet allowing us to lease one building instead of two. We are very happy with the outcome.

Paul Bickell
Nippon Express

Locators gave us the benefit of working with just one supplier for all of the storage and materials handling requirements of this project. By mixing 3 and 4 wheel trucks from the same model range, we have gained extra pallet locations and have the option to battery change between them and work multi-shift in the future. I was initially sceptical that electric trucks could replace LPG, but I am very pleased with the successful outcome of this project.

Mark Davis
Logistics Supervisor for Hall & Woodhouse brewery

We are very pleased with the change from an engine to an electric fleet. The trucks have been well received by our operators as they are comfortable and quiet to drive and give excellent protection from the elements. We even have the option and flexibility to use spare batteries and a simple battery change system if we ever want to work back to back shifts in the future. Locators also design, supply and install all types of racking and storage systems. They reconfigured the CooperVision warehouse for narrow aisle operation which increases the storage density and pallet locations. Locators supplied Aisle-Master articulated forklifts to work in this area.

Coopervision, Hamble

It is a great benefit to us that we have a single source supplier who understands the needs of our business. This saves us time, improves efficiency and ultimately reduces cost.

Richard Horrocks
Smurfitt Kappa