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Seven ways to improve warehouse efficiency


An efficient warehouse plays an integral role in an effective supply chain. Not only is warehouse efficiency crucial for customer satisfaction through timely order fulfilment, but it can increase productivity, reduce costs and impact significantly on your bottom line.

Here, we reveal how you can improve warehouse efficiency and explain the benefits they can bring to warehousing operations.

1. In-depth efficacy review

The first step when it comes to improving warehouse efficiency is conducting a thorough efficacy review. This is crucial in determining a baseline from which to measure your current warehousing activities.

From reviewing existing processes to assessing warehouse space, where labour efficiencies can be made and carrying out an existing safety protocol assessment, an initial efficacy review is an integral starting point.

2. Think lean   

Adopting a lean approach to warehousing inventory is crucial. The main principle of lean warehousing inventory is to ensure you have the essentials to operate, and nothing more. Ensuring stock isn’t piled up and safety stocks are reduced, and encouraging more frequent deliveries or smaller quantities from suppliers are all effective measures to achieving a lean inventory.

3. Identify bottlenecks

Being able to see what the holdups are, and where and when and why they happen will help you to see what might be slowing you down, and so how you can speed up.

These are some of the common questions we ask to identify bottlenecks.

  • Are your packers often left waiting for picks to arrive?
  • Do your pickers have to wait for paperwork to be printed?
  • Does it take too long to organise and process deliveries in the office?
  • Do your pickers take long journeys around the warehouse to pick common items?
  • Is there a printer that often jams?
  • Are orders only received on a single computer in the warehouse?
  • Are your most ordered products stored all over the warehouse?

4. Improve picking methods

Improving picking and dispatch leads to greater efficiencies, so that you can send out more orders without having to work harder or longer, or needing more warehouse staff.

Piece picking (picker to part)

This method requires the warehouse operative to walk around the warehouse with a list of required items and a box, to get every item needed for each order.

Wave picking

This method sees the warehouse operator pick the required items for several orders at a time.

Sorting systems

This method sees the items brought to the warehouse operative, so they don’t have to move.

Pick to box

This method sees a number of picking stations connected by conveyor belt, and the warehouse operative fills the box with their products, and then the box moves on to the next station.

5. Warehouse Management System (WMS)

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) works by efficiently managing the complexities of warehouse operations, keeps running costs to a minimum, increases productivity and provides essential insight needed for effective business decision-making. Using a high-quality WMS delivers a host of benefits to warehousing operations, workforce and customer base. Optimiser WMS software helps achieve faster picking and dispatch in many ways, including:

  • Enabling you to organise your warehouse more effectively
  • Allowing your to automatically choose the right courier based on your rules and criteria
  • Integrating with your ecommerce platforms

Find out more in our article: What is 3pl software for warehouses?

6. Effective training

Training your warehouse managers in how to effectively manage the warehouse is a crucial step in improving warehouse efficiency.

Filling skills gaps through necessary training and encouraging knowledge sharing will facilitate the smooth running of warehouse operations and lead to efficiencies being made business wide. Implement a central knowledge hub, a sharing system that can be accessed across the workforce to help improve efficiency within the warehouse.

7. Organisation

A key way to improve warehouse efficiency is to organise workstations effectively. Not only does a clutter-free workspace improve productivity, as time is no longer wasted in the search for equipment, it will also become a far safer environment to work in and will boost team morale and improve customer service.

Your warehouse layout plays a significant role in picking speeds. Warehouses that are crowded and difficult to navigate slow picking down, while those with too much space between racks and too much room in aisles are also inefficient.

So, if you want to optimise the speed of your picking, it’s important to consider your warehouse layout, taking into account all available vertical and horizontal space to help reduce the time spent on each pick.

Transform your warehouse operations today  

At Optima Warehouse Solutions we pride ourselves on providing high quality but cost-effective 3PL warehouse management software (WMS) systems to the warehouse industry and logistics companies. Contact us to discover how our 3PL systems can transform your operations and make them more efficient today.