With the adoption of good warehousing practices, we can improve warehouse operations. Warehouse management if done right can reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and increase warehouse operational efficiency. The top 11 warehouse management best practices to improve operations are:
1. Using standardized containers to store materials simplify order fulfilment, makes it easier to find and store materials, and giving the warehouse a neater appearance that improves the organization. Using standardized bins minimize the variety of material handling equipment you need. They also eliminate wasted time while pickers search for the right equipment.
2. Use bin locations to ensure that bins and pallets are placed carefully on shelves at the assigned location. This can minimize lost or misplaced inventory and reduces time spent looking for materials.
3. Use clear, readable labels that can be read by people as well as scanners or other equipment to further reduce errors.
4. Implement cross-docking to speed up operations and eliminate excessive inventory handling by delivering goods needed for orders to the shipping dock without making a stop in the warehouse. This reduces the order cycle time and material handling costs
It isn’t easy to manage a warehouse, but it is easy to overlook some of the more common issues that sap productivity and increase costs.
Too much inventory in too little space, or the wrong kind of storage for the goods in the warehouse, can lead to warehouse management problems. Keeping obsolete inventory in the warehouse is another issue — it occupies space and reduces a team’s productivity because employees must periodically count the inventory or move it to make room for more current goods. Excess inventory tends to cause inaccurate inventory records and misplaced inventory as the warehouse team struggles to find space for materials. While warehouse management often takes the blame for inaccurate or misplaced inventory, it’s really the fault of the inventory team and management process. Keeping inventories lean by optimizing order quantities, employing just-in-time or lean methodologies to minimize stock on hand, and disposing of obsolete materials will help ensure that warehouse inventory stays as accurate as possible.
Sometimes warehouse employees avoid taking physical inventories or performing periodic cycle counts because they believe it wastes time and is unnecessary. This is not the case, even when your inventory records are more than 99 percent accurate. Periodic cycle counts should not be done to simply correct balances; but rather cycle counting should be considered a quality management safeguard. Whenever an error is uncovered, rather than simply correcting the on-hand count, the team should undertake an investigation into how the inaccuracy occurred. Finding and filling gaps in procedures will improve warehouse inventory accuracy for all items, not just the occasional discrepancy.
While it isn’t easy to dismantle an entire warehouse to create a new or more efficient layout, improving the layout doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing project. Too often,warehouse management never makes any changes from the original design, even if the product mix has dramatically changed.
It makes sense to review the layout and product mix periodically — at least annually — to ensure that there is still a good match. If it appears that productivity could be improved by slotting products in a new location or by replacing some of the racking, this minor undertaking can have a major effect on productivity.
A warehouse management or warehouse execution software (WES) solution consolidate picking lists into the most efficient picking order, eliminating multiple trips to the same location; or a warehouse management system (WMS) helping to eliminate paper by sending pick lists to mobile devices, ensuring that the latest version is the one in use. A WES keeps track of inventory locations, quantities on hand and operational status of equipment and personnel. Without a WES, the warehouse is at a productivity disadvantage and will have higher operating costs than similar warehouses that operate with a WMS.
There are many kinds of warehouse automation available — everything from barcode data collection equipment to automated storage and retrieval solutions. Almost every warehouse can benefit from implementing automation.
Automated storage and retrieval solutions allow the warehouse to store a large volume of material in a small footprint. They increase productivity by eliminating unnecessary travel time and improve inventory accuracy by helping to ensure that workers always pick the right materials.
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