Every warehouse does things slightly different than others, but to be organized, efficient, and profitable, a warehouse does need to incorporate some of the best practices that have been established in the industry. These best practices have been tried and tested over the years, and they’ve been proven to work. However, warehouse managers have to keep abreast of current changes in warehouse technology and methods, because best practices can change over the years. Here are some of the current best practices and why they’re important.
Have an Updated Inventory Management System
It should come as no surprise that one of the most important best practices in warehousing is to have an inventory management system that is efficient, practical, and updated. Paper systems are obviously out, but even some computerized systems have become obsolete now that smartphones and tablets have become common in the warehouse. Workers can scan barcodes and other electronic tags on pallets to enter them into the system, reducing errors and time. If your warehouse inventory system is more than ten years old, it’s definitely time to look at upgrading.
Equipment Checks and Safety
There are different best practices for when to check different types of equipment, but needless to say, it’s important to follow them all. Shelving, for example, needs to be examined regularly to make sure it’s not about to buckle. Dock boards have to be inspected to make sure they’re still holding up to the weight they’re put under, while forklifts need to be checked over for engine issues. If these regular inspections aren’t done, accidents can occur.
Minimize Picking Time
Picking time is the time it takes to pick up the pallets needed for the load and get them to the loading docks. Obviously, loading pallets that have been stored farther into the warehouse is going to take longer because they have to be moved farther.
Warehouses can minimize their picking time in a number of ways. One is to place the most frequently needed items near the loading docks, while another is to look at the shipping schedule and create a dynamic shelving system. Those pallets that will be needed soon are placed near the loading docks so they can be moved out quickly. Then pallets that are needed next can be shifted that direction. It still takes time, but that time is distributed throughout the day or week.
Any time a pallet is moved in your warehouse, it should be recorded. This is done for several reasons. The first is that you’ll know exactly where that pallet is, so nothing gets lost. Second, it provides a trail of where the pallet has been and who has interacted with it. That can be important for security reasons if anything comes up missing or if the products on the pallet are damaged in some way. Best practices suggest that each movement of the pallet be thought of as a business transaction, with all of the necessary data collected when the transaction begins and ends.
What other common best practices does your warehouse use? Do you have questions about warehousing best practices? Comment below to join the conversation!