Optimizing Your Warehouse to Increase Productivity
Every product-centric business owner knows that a warehouse is much more than a building — it’s a vital component to your success. Optimizing your warehouse helps your business reach that next stretch goal or mile marker, and fuels your growth towards whatever comes next.
Because your warehouse is so important to the success of your business, you obviously want to devote some serious brainpower to how it’s set up. You want to be sure that your warehouse is running as efficiently as possible, and that you’re using your available resources to their full potential.
So what are the most important factors in creating an optimized warehouse? Take a look at these key questions to ask yourself, then let us know in the comments if you’ve ever experienced improvements in your own warehouse by implementing these strategies.
Is the physical space designed with efficiency in mind?
The layout of your warehouse has a huge impact on overall productivity. Careful consideration should be given to everything from the spacing and layout of the aisles to the angle of the keyboards at any computer station. Look at all physical aspects from the floor to the ceiling — are there tripping hazards on the floor? Is your lighting sufficient for what your employees need to accomplish?
An ergonomically smart warehouse is a safe warehouse. Your employees are the lifeblood of your business, and creating a safe, rewarding environment for them will help drive your workforce towards peak efficiency.
As you are evaluating the physical layout or signage in your warehouse, ask yourself: how long does it take a new warehouse employee to get up-to-speed on the layout of your warehouse? Can they easily find a piece of inventory they’re aren’t familiar with? Every single footstep wasted headed in the wrong direction is a step your employees could have used to correctly pick an order. Even subtle changes like the font on your signs or colored tape on the floor marking common pathways can make a big difference when it comes to warehouse employee efficiency. Sure, it’s a small place to start, but even the smallest gains add up to significant improvements in the long-run.
Should you be barcoding your inventory?
The answer to this question is almost certainly “yes.”
Barcoding your inventory has a host of advantages — barcodes greatly improve your overall accuracy when fulfilling orders, make the picking process much simpler, tighten up your stock count practices, and more.
If you deal with a large amount of inventory, barcoding is bound to help your overall warehouse functions. While it will take some dedication to implement a good barcoding system, the rewards will be well worth the effort.
And if you’re already running a fully-barcoded warehouse, don’t forget to take a look at RFID tags. RFID tags offer amazing advantages in certain situations, such as tracking shipping containers, and will become much more common in the future. Getting a head-start on this trend will give you a leg up on the competition, while generating even greater flexibility in the warehouse.
Are you correctly managing your inventory?
A warehouse should be a hive of activity — inventory should be flowing in and out on a regular basis. But in order to achieve this, you need to be properly managing your inventory.
One of the most important methods involved in properly managing your inventory in the warehouse is conducting regular, reliable stock counts. Stock counts help you figure out what you have in the warehouse right now, and current inventory levels play a big role in determining what you should purchase for the future. This demand planning is critical to success for any product-focused business. Make sure you’re using a purchasing strategy that makes sense for your business and keeps your warehouse humming along at a nice, healthy pace.
Do your shipping methods make sense for your customers, your inventory, and your warehouses?
Getting inventory from the warehouse shelves into your customers’ hands is often one of the trickiest parts of the transaction. There are a variety of shipping strategies to consider, and every company has different needs that will dictate their particular shipping methods.
If your company sells inventory that doesn’t need to be in your warehouse physically (such as items that are assembled offsite), drop-shipping could be a game-changing strategy for boosting overall warehouse efficiency. By never actually housing the inventory at your facilities, you’ll have less money tied up in stock,, and you can give your customers a faster, better experience.
Find the right ERP solution for your warehouse.
At the end of the day, the most ergonomically designed and thoroughly RFID-tagged warehouse in the world can’t compete with a warehouse running the ERP solution that is right for that company. What happens outside the warehouse has a big impact on efficiency, and the best way to ensure that you’re optimizing your warehouse to its full potential is to invest in the ERP solution that matches your company’s needs.
To find out more about how SalesPad’s ERP solutions can help you optimize your warehouse, check out our webinar on streamlining warehouse operations.