When people think about warehouse efficiency, many people think about the office side of things: the processes that are involved in storing and monitoring pallets, the technology used, and the way employees do things. But warehouse efficiency really starts at the loading dock. If your warehouse doesn’t make use of the most efficient methods possible for unloading, loading, and transporting pallets to and from the dock, nothing else is going to feel very efficient at all. Here are a few ways that efficiency at the loading dock translates to overall warehouse efficiency.
Things Move on Schedule
If it takes a good amount of time to get pallets off the truck and into the warehouse, your entire schedule is going to be fairly slow and sluggish. You may have trucks backed up waiting to unload, which is going to put those drivers behind schedule and may even cost you money. The rest of your warehouse staff is also going to be sitting around waiting. Not everyone is involved in unloading, and those who aren’t may have nothing to do until the pallets are in the warehouse.
This inefficiency could come from several areas: maybe employees don’t have portable dock levelers set up on time, or maybe forklift operators are taking too long getting the pallets out of the truck. Loading trucks in an inefficient manner is just as bad. This also puts truckers behind schedule, and it can tie up equipment and personnel who could be doing other things.
When employees are working efficiently, it does more than just keep everyone busy. You’re able to get more trucks in and out of the warehouse during the day, which will increase your profits. You also create a reputation for being an efficient warehouse, something that drivers and business managers will definitely appreciate.
The Domino Effect
When your dockworkers are moving efficiently, everything else tends to fall into place. That’s because everything has to flow through the loading dock, so if something gets held up, it’s going to cause delays all down the line. An efficient loading dock means your inventory managers are going to have all of the pallets in place, while those who are picking products from pallets for shipment will be able to gather everything without going back later to find missing pallets.
This domino effect also works the other way, too. If your loaders are taking too long in loading a truck, it’s possible the unloading team may find that the designated section for their items is still full of pallets being shipped out. They then have to wait for the area to be cleared, which then puts them behind schedule. One inefficient team can cause the whole warehouse to get behind, which is why it’s vital to keep an eye on how each section is functioning and work with those who routinely get behind to improve your overall workflow.
Are you Inefficient?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your loading dock is moving inefficiently, especially if you’re using the same processes you’ve always used. If you’re wondering if you could improve, you can always ask the drivers. They’ll let you know if they believe your warehouse is slower than others.