When you're in the logistics business, staying organized is everything. The ability to know where an item is in every step of your supply chain on an ongoing basis will help you be a more effective partner for all the other businesses or consumers that rely on your speed and precision.
For that reason, it's critical to look internally and figure out what you can do to be even slightly more organized in your daily activities. The following changes may seem small, but together they can add up to revolutionize your processes:
1) Shrink your inventory on hand
One of the biggest mistakes warehouses can make is to fill all their shelves to the point that there's hardly any room left, according to CoVest Sourcing Network. Unfortunately, that's an easy way to lose track of certain items. In ideal cases, you should always aim to have enough inventory on hand to meet demand - and then some - but still enough wiggle room to let you make changes as needed. Consequently, it's generally recommended to shoot for a capacity of between 80% and 85%.
2) Invest in better shelving
Another hurdle you may encounter is that there are certain items that are simply difficult to put on your shelves easily or conveniently, CoVest said. If you find yourself consistently running into this issue, consider investing in new shelving systems that allow for more customization and right-sizing. With such equipment, you have less to worry about in terms of finding places where items will fit.
3) Make sure packing stations are near your most popular items
One of the biggest time-savers in the course of normal warehouse work is reducing the amount of walking your pickers have to undergo for each order, according to The Logistics of Logistics. While longer trips for certain items are unavoidable, it's important to make sure your packing stations are as close as possible to the items that move quickest through your facilities. That may require some reorganization - especially on a regular basis - but it will really pay off over time.
4) Go Up
Among of the most daunting areas of inefficiency for warehouses is the amount of cubic footage that doesn't get used, The Logistics of Logistics advised. In many cases, shelves may be 15 or 20 feet high, but the height of the ceilings in the facility allows companies to go significantly higher than that. If you constantly find yourself looking for extra space as you try to slim your inventory, looking up is a good idea.
5) Reconsider your aisle width
If "traffic jams" are a frequent problem for your workers - especially as you add heavy equipment like ladders, lifts and pallet jacks - consider making your aisles a bit wider, according to 6 River Systems. That way, people and machines alike can give each other some extra room and avoid collisions and logjams that hold up picking and stocking processes.