Maybe things got a little cramped in the last location, and so you’ve just upgraded to a fancy new warehouse. Or, you’ve noticed that your order fulfilment is the weakest link in your operations. But as with your pallet deliveries, efficiency and reliability are key – and like any order fulfilment process, you need time to iron out the kinks and figure out how to use your warehouse as best you can.
We’ve collated some top tips that will have your warehouse running as smooth as a Swiss watch:
1) Going Digital
Automatisation is a growing phenomenon in industries across the world. We’ve already seen it in our supermarkets and ticket offices. By the year 2025, over 1.2 million robots are expected to be in use in US factories, and the UK warehouse is no different. Utilising the latest technology can greatly improve efficiency and reduce costs. Maybe it’s a little too soon to think about replacing your employees with sentient machines, but there’s a whole world of software available to help you streamline your warehouse practices.
Everyone loves a good bottle of wine from time to time, or a gift voucher at their favourite shop. You can use incentives and rewards to increase employee efficiency. Regular competitions or prize giveaways drastically cut costs and increase employee satisfaction. Happy workers are hard workers, and with labour as the highest cost factor in a warehouse, you’d do well to get the most you can.
3) Reach for the sky (or the roof)
Make sure that you’re using all the space in your warehouse, which often means maximising vertical space. With the use of ladders, footstools and forklifts, you can increase your warehouse capacity by more than double. More efficient use of space reduces costs and streamlines your working processes.
4) Reorder Your Products
Your SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit) are likely to change with the seasons. It's a fine idea to review how your SKUs are categorised in accordance with your business model. Aim to reduce the amount of distance your pickers need to travel to retrieve a product. It's wise to review the product placement within your warehouse once a year, making sure you stay on top of the game.
5) Create a Sub-Warehouse
Build a mini-warehouse within your warehouse. If you group 20% of your most popular products together you're drastically reducing the time and distance required of your pickers to fulfil orders. If you choose to implement this strategy, ensure that your mini-warehouse is capable of handling a lot of activity. And be careful of bunching up too many popular products together. You don't want pickers falling over each other.
There are many more things to consider in optimising your warehouse, but important things to think about include product location (most popular near shoulder height), alternative technology options and innovative storage equipment. If you've got an innovative technique or handy tip for warehousing, please let us know in the comments below!