Quick Tips for Optimizing Your Warehouse

When it comes to warehouse work, “optimization” is the buzzword that get’s thrown around a lot.

If a warehouse isn’t optimized to reach it’s maximum potential, things can get backed up fast.  Employees find themselves overworked, while managers end up very stressed and customers are unhappy with how long it’s taking to get their shipments.  Here are a few different things you can do to increase your warehouse’s efficiency, and make your life a little more, well, optimized.

Organize Everything

A warehouse is an exercise in organization.  Employees need to know where everything goes as they offload it and where everything is when they need to put a shipment together.  That all relies on having a well-organized warehouse.  Here are a few things you can do to increase organization:

  • Put up signs and label aisles.  While senior employees may know exactly where everything is, newer people won’t.  Large signs will help them find exactly what they need without hunting down someone to ask.

  • Add descriptions to order tickets.  Many databases and ticketing systems allow managers to add a line or two of description or additional orders.  This can be used to add physical descriptions in cases where products come in a variety of colors or sizes or specify the quantity.  It can also be used to add the location of the items.

  • Use a color coding system for valuable customers.  This makes it easy to tell at a glance which packages go to which customer.  This way, your most valuable customers always get great service.  You may not be able to do this for all customers, but generally warehouses have a few really large clients that deserve some special treatment.

Focus on Safety

A safe warehouse means you won’t have to worry about employees getting hurt.  This saves the company money since you won’t have to pay for worker’s comp care, and it also means you won’t have employees out for weeks or months at a time while they recover.

Install guide rails where needed and make sure your shelving is secure and stable.  Always stress caution on forklift ramps.  Many forklift related injuries and accidents are due to forklifts being driven off the edge of ramps.

Put Your Best People in the Right Positions

Having the wrong employee in the wrong spot can cause problems throughout the entire system.  For example, many people place new hires in receiving, but that’s actually one of the most critical positions in the entire warehouse.

If an item isn’t labeled and stored in the right place, it will throw your entire organization off.  That’s why it’s smart to put your best people in receiving and make sure they’re paid well enough to stay with the warehouse long-term.  Doing so will cut down on mistakes.

Set a Cutoff Time

Some warehouses keep receiving deliveries up until the end of the day, but then workers have to stay late to get it all put up or leave it unorganized until the next day.  This means either paying overtime or risk having your next day’s schedule thrown off.  Set a cut off time for order processing so you have a chance to catch up on all of the day’s work before quitting time.

How do you optimize your warehouse?  What areas do you find yourself struggling with?

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