The people we speak to regularly know a thing or two about warehouse productivity, management, and efficiency. Here’s some of what what we’ve learnt.
We’ve learnt a lot about how companies organise and store their products over the last 15 years, so here are our 10 tips to improve your warehouse productivity.
We were bound to say it, so we’ll say it first, but one of the most important ways to improve your warehouse productivity is to get a Warehouse Management System.
There are many benefits to using a WMS, from increasing efficiency, reducing picking errors, and getting cheaper courier rates, to reducing paper use and reducing stock loss.
Learn more by reading why you should invest in a WMS.
2. Define goals
Again, it goes without saying, that you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
You’ll need to establish your current warehouse performance, and then determine what goals and KPIs you want to measure to demonstrate how you managed to improve productivity in your warehouse.
Perhaps you want to:
- Ship more orders
- Reduce picking errors
- Despatch orders more quickly
Perhaps Marketing wants to:
- Create bundles of related products
- Have time-sensitive offers
- Get rid of old stock quickly
Perhaps Management wants to:
- Know how many products are in stock at all times
- See whether more staff are needed at busy times
- Try different suppliers or couriers
Knowing these business goals can help to see whether they have been met.
In order to improve your performance, you’ll want to look at your workflow.
Maybe you can easily identify areas where processes and procedures can be improved, or perhaps you’ll only identify bottlenecks or other issues over a period of time.
4. Cause of problems
Whilst you’re looking at your workflow, why not look at the cause of problems too?
Maybe you have problems with:
- A supplier that’s always late or a courier can’t always meet your needs
- Unreliable warehouse equipment
- Technology that doesn’t always work as expected
You’re likely to have a lot of information available from various sales and reporting systems.
- Do you make use of this information?
- What do you know about orders, from start to finish?
- What can you discover about your customers, products or processes?
Remember to get all warehouse staff on board with any significant changes you’re considering making.
You’ll need to ask their opinion, and see what they think. They might have better ideas too.
You’ll also have more ideas as to what would make their life easier, and so improve productivity in your warehouse
7. Team morale
Think about boosting team morale, especially at busy times.
Depending on your business, the sales or marketing teams might get all the praise, whilst the warehouse staff are barely acknowledged.
Whether it’s incentives, or a simple “well done” or “good job”, it’s bound to be appreciated.
Regular meetings whether daily or weekly can make a massive difference, and show that staff are valued, and that their opinions are listened to.
8. Organise by priority
Organising your products and equipment by priority can help to improve productivity in your warehouse.
You might want to keep:
Big selling products close to hand
Barcode scanners and other technology charged
Forklifts, pallet pumps and stackers where they need to be
This will help to save time and improve productivity in your warehouse.
Making more of technology can help improve productivity in your warehouse.
If you’re doing things like forever:
- Ringing suppliers chasing deliveries
- Contacting couriers looking for the cheapest or fastest option
- Updating customers with their order status
Then maybe integrating your suppliers and couriers with your WMS could save you a huge amount of time and effort.
With advances in things like:
- Bar code scanning for products entering and leaving the warehouse
- Remote access on mobile devices
- Accurate up-to-date stock levels across multiple ecommerce platforms
You could be much more efficient and improve productivity in your warehouse by using technology to work smarter, not harder.
10. Everyone’s opinion is valid
By seeking opinions from everyone in the business, from the MD to the receptionist, you’ll get ideas on how to improve productivity in your warehouse, from people who work alongside the warehouse, not just the warehouse staff and manager.
- Your receptionist has to ring the warehouse when a delivery or courier arrives, because the bell isn’t loud enough for warehouse staff to hear.
- Would a louder bell make a difference?
- Your sales director asks for weekly figures regarding the number of parcels shipped, and you have to trawl through a spreadsheet.
- Would automatically sending her the details via your WMS be beneficial?
- Your sales team, shop floor workers or ecommerce sites don’t have accurate stock levels.
- Would integrating your WMS with the ecommerce platforms and POS systems you use be worthwhile?
What else will improve productivity in your warehouse?