Managing a warehouse is no easy task, regardless of whether it's managing shipping to consumers or businesses, or simply handling inventory for your own company. With that in mind, there are many ways to make sure every process within your facility runs as smoothly as possible to ensure optimal efficiency and operating standards, but there are also a number of ways to get those issues wrong.
Below are six do's and don'ts that will help you manage your warehouse at least a little bit better:
Do: Improve your picking process
One of the biggest time sucks you will likely encounter in your warehouse operations is the time workers have to spend physically traveling to an item's location, pulling it off the shelf and walking it back to their station for boxing and shipping, according to Newcastle Systems. It might therefore make sense for leaders to evaluate whether pickers are taking the most efficient paths to a given item, and what can be done to ensure that happens on an ongoing basis.
Don't: Let inventory pile up
When companies have too much inventory on hand, it can cause a lot of problems, Newcastle Systems cautioned. For that reason, it's important for warehouse decision-makers to ensure they monitor their needs on an ongoing basis to guarantee they have enough inventory on hand to meet demand, but not so much that they end up having an excessive amount cluttering their shelves.
Do: Reorganize for efficiency
Part and parcel with the above issues is the fact that some warehouses aren't laid out as well as they ought to be, with floor layouts often coming piecemeal rather than being plotted holistically, according to Fleet. It may occasionally be wise to rearrange where everything goes in the warehouse, perhaps moving pickers to more convenient locations or reconfiguring shelving.
Don't: Ignore a mess
Whether it's clutter in the corners or debris in the aisles, a messy warehouse is an inefficient - and potentially dangerous - place, Fleet advised. With that in mind, it's incumbent upon leaders to ensure there is buy-in from everyone in the facility on keeping the entire space clean, and never letting the attitude of "it's someone else's problem" enter the workplace.
Do: Continually invest in the facility
Any warehouse operation's needs will evolve over time, whether it's a month, six months, a year or longer, according to ASAP Courier. Consequently, warehouse managers cannot afford to have a "set it and forget it" attitude. Instead, they need to make sure their workers and the space itself are being properly equipped on an ongoing basis, perhaps supported by regular reviews of needs and shortfalls.
Don't: Ignore maintenance needs
Warehouses can't run at peak efficiency if the equipment, shelving or systems they use every day aren't at peak operating capacity, ASAP Courier noted. For that reason, it's vital to ensure there are routine checks of everything within a facility to ensure there are no breakdowns or other issues that might slow operations, endanger workers or otherwise lead to avoidable hiccups.