Can your warehouse staff be more efficient?

Female fork lift driver wearing sunglasses

Could your warehouse staff be more efficient?

We talk about making your warehouse more efficient and effective, and obviously promote the benefits of Optimiser WMS, but can your warehouse staff be more efficient as well?

Here are some of the things we advise when visiting clients and trying to help them work smarter.

1. Make the most popular products easily available

Depending on your business and the products you sell, the most popular and in-demand items in your warehouse should be as close to the packing and dispatch areas as possible, minimising the time taken travelling around the warehouse.

Additionally, ensuring your fast-moving products are stored in pick faces and constantly replenished, makes a lot of difference when it comes to managing staffs time in the warehouse and reducing trips to empty locations.

Stock Rotation also plays a big part, and we always advise customers to keep a look out for changes in trends, either regular seasonal ones or new ones as they arise:

These could include things like:

  • Garden furniture in spring and Christmas decorations in autumn
  • Clothing when the weather changes
  • Brands when they’ve been mentioned by a celebrity and are in high demand

All these should take priority picking locations when the time is right. Time spent moving these products to the best location and grouping them with similar products will be worth it in the long run as staff won’t need to travel to all corners of the warehouse to pick popular goods.

If you don’t, your warehouse staff could be wasting a lot of time going to the back of the warehouse, when the products they need the most often could be nearer the front, or split up on opposite sides of the warehouse as that was the only free space for them.

As well as being frustrating for your warehouse staff, you might not be despatching as many orders as you could do.

Think about things like:

  • Weather
  • Technology
  • Clothing
  • Sporting events
  • Festivals
  • Ingredients
  • Car repair and accessories
  • Home repair and improvements

Thinking ahead can mean you’re better organised, making your warehouse staff more effective and more efficient.

2. Picking methods

Using the right picking method is key to making your warehouse staff more efficient.

  • Is your picking method right for your products, customers and organisation?
  • Could it be improved? Have you noticed bottlenecks or potential errors?
  • Do you use single-order, multi-order, batch picking, or zone picking?
  • Is this based on efficiency or preference, or just ‘how we do things here’?
  • Is it really the best way? Have you actually tried a different picking method?

Optimiser WMS comes with a range of pick rules that can be applied at a customer level, or even tailored to individual products.  Optima can also develop bespoke pick rules that target specific areas of the warehouse or only pick goods that meet a defined criteria.  Having the right pick rules mean staff get to the right location faster, find the right products easier and can start their next pick sooner.

3. Organise your workflow

Understanding, analysing and improving your workflow will help you to make sure that your processes, procedures and warehouse staff are working efficiently.

How well organised is your workflow?

  • Are there any obvious issues?
  • What could be improved?
  • How do you cope if there’s a sudden increase in orders?
  • Can you change your workflow as necessary if there are lots of smaller orders, or demands for larger or harder to reach products?

Optimiser WMS has a number of reports that pull this data out and send it to the relevant people, letting them make the changes needed to continue operating smoothly.

Being able to view how many orders are being picked compared to packed will allow you to adjust the number of staff picking and packing to avoid any bottlenecks or staff not having a task.

Discrepancy reports going straight to warehouse managers as goods come in will let you check the goods over before confirming them into stock, avoiding any costly mistakes when errors are not picked up.

4. Storage

Are your warehouse staff struggling because your storage isn’t working well enough for them?

Ensuring that you’ve got the most appropriate storage will save a lot of time, and will be well worth the investment, whether in terms of time or money, to enable staff to quickly find and get the products they are looking for.

Are your staff:

  • Frequently waiting for the forklift truck to reach commonly ordered products
  • Usually digging at the back of shelves for small items?
  • Often going all over the warehouse to find items that are often ordered together?

If so then there are different putaway rules available in Optimiser WMS, and Optima can create bespoke ones for you. This will allow you to put items into their most suitable storage locations once they arrive at the warehouse.

Individual products can be targeted with rules that override the more general “one size fits all” rule at the customer level.

5. Appropriate height levels

Perhaps it’s an obvious thing to say, but you should keep the most popular products at the right height.

For picking, this is around waist-shoulder height as it doesn’t involve much movement when staff are collecting it from the shelves, and so makes products quicker to find and pick.

Bending over or reaching up for known popular products obviously slows operatives down, as does needing to use a fork lift truck to get items down from high shelves.

This means that picking, packing and dispatching each order might be taking longer than it needs to.

6. Technology

There’s plenty of technology that can help you make your warehouse staff more efficient.

Are you using:

  • Bar code scanners to book items in and out of your warehouse?
  • Cross platform integration to update eBay store when a product is sold on Amazon?
  • An internet connection to check your stock levels?

Optimiser WMS supports all of the above out of the box, and can also help set them up for you, or modify your existing setup to see where there is room for improvement.

7. WMS

It goes without saying that we’d recommend that you should be using a Warehouse Management System.

Even though it’s 2017, there are many companies that are organising and managing their deliveries and dispatches by paper based system or spreadsheets.

Are you and your warehouse operatives still:

  • Updating spreadsheets by hand?
  • Carrying around bits of paper and a clipboard?
  • Ringing up couriers to get the best price for an urgent delivery?

Optimiser WMS could automate a lot of that for you, so that you don’t have to. Which means that you can focus on fulfilling customer orders.

Conclusion

Why not browse our Case Studies to see what we have done for other companies, then Contact Us now on +44 (0) 1270 500 777 and tell us what you need your Optimiser WMS to do to help your warehouse staff be more efficient?