Keeping the customer happy sits at the heart of any successful business. With so much competition on the market, achieving repeat orders and sourcing new business remains the priority. Yet customer satisfaction is not a direct reflection of a business’ internal organisation. Optimising warehouse efficiency involves far more than just ensuring products are sent out and delivered on time. Organisation achieved through improvements that save time and money remain the priority for warehouse managers everywhere. These changes needn’t be overly expensive, or difficult to implement. They apply to warehouse facilities both large and small and we have listed a number of suggestions below.
Each aspect needs to be analysed for their effectiveness both individually and as a connected whole. Before you begin to plan solutions to problems you need to identify where the problems actually lie. Also think about where changes made in one area will affect another, and how these improvements can be introduced without effecting the current operational flow.
Although it may seem like an obvious point to make, one of the easiest places to make an instant difference is looking at how operations are mapped out within the cubic space. What’s important to remember is this is a job that needs ongoing management. You will find that a reorganisation suddenly unearths space that can be effectively utilised. Over time, it is easy for disorganisation to rear its head again creating new efficiency issues, not to mention health and safety concerns. Check staff are up-to-date and following new procedures and that the layout is working as planned.
Automation, robotics and new technology is about to revolutionise the warehouse supply chain over the next decade. From unloading and loading, picking, data capture, storage and much more, there are a number of options available to suit warehouses of any size and scale. With careful and precise implementation, the use of technology will improve accuracy, productivity and result in huge efficiency gains.
Rigorous inventory management will help to avoid an issue that plagues many warehouse distributors. Overstocking often leads to a large amount of goods remaining unsold, taking up unnecessary space and eventually being written off at a loss. Inventory management software negates this issue by providing real-time analysis of stock sitting in the warehouse. With every item tracked it helps to avoid overstocking and under-ordering of key lines, and provides an overview of overall stock value currently being held.
Preparing for seasonal peaks, or repeat promotions, is a real test of organisational skill. Using software to track your current stock levels will also, over time, produce a trail of invaluable report information. The trends contained within this data will make forecasting and planning far easier to control and allow you set automatic re-ordering in place for fixed periods.
Traditionally it has been felt that once the goods leave the warehouse the management of stock becomes less controllable. Strong two-way communication with your suppliers, and those receiving the products, strengthens the supply chain and opens the door to improved feedback you may not usually be privy to. Using technology to track deliveries the moment they begin shipping improves accuracy of deliveries, time management and helps to reduce associated labour costs.
Train and incentivise staff
Introducing new procedures is more than just a directive coming down from above. If staff understand the reasons behind the changes and are offered the opportunity to provide feedback, it produces a more engaged warehouse working in sync. Workers are the people on the frontline having to adjust and adapt and can provide vital information that is not always seen from a management perspective. Finding ways to incentivise performance encourages these changes to remain in place, and a more invested workforce will stay engaged in maintaining and improving future developments.