There isn’t one single way of doing things. And, when it comes to something as complex as warehouse management, different methods are used, depending on the nature of the business. However, there are a few generic measures that can be applied to most businesses – which do not require heavy capital investment or breakthrough know-how. On the contrary, these are easy to implement methods which can help you improve efficiency and eliminate errors. So, here goes – the top 6 mistakes you need to stop making!
1. Rent, lease or buy?
Having your label over every single asset or element feels satisfying, right? There’s a (sometimes false) sense of security in having ownership and probably that’s why most people prefer buying – buying warehouses, forklifts, trucks, and what not. It would, of course, make sense if this was your core business. But ask yourself, is it really feasible to buy? Or is it something you can conveniently outsource to 3PLs. You know the answer.
2. Single style storage for diverse products
Say you handle two sets of products – lightbulbs & printers. The amount of storage space taken up by a box of lightbulbs is much smaller than a box of printers. Your current storage space is designed to accommodate both products, but what if, new products are added to the mix? How will you handle the requirement? You could start by using push-back or pallet-flow storage for fast-moving goods. In case there are too many SKUs, try adopting single-deep storage racks with case picking at the floor level and stock replenishment on the rack above.
3. Inefficient use of space
Most warehouses don’t make maximum use of the space available. Oftentimes, products are stacked up on the floor due to lack of sufficient place, making it hard to find. This could also lead to misplacing of products and an increase in operational errors. The solution? Vertical storage. Maximize overhead storage space to recover up to 85% more space. Vertical lifts can help employees access different levels, making it easier and more effective to handle operations.
4. Making ‘technology’ the focus
It’s important to achieve the perfect balance between technology and human effort. When supply chains invest in new technology, the focus shifts on utilizing its maximum potential, rather than achieving efficiency. It pays to understand that technology is a tool meant to aid the end-goal; which is optimal efficiency and maximum productivity.
5. An overlap of incoming & outgoing goods
Most warehouses have a common, designated spot for incoming and outgoing goods. There’s nothing wrong with this, except that when there’s a large volume of goods, there’s a higher chance of confusion and mistakes. How about putting a false wall or a temporary barricade that differentiates the area for incoming and outgoing inventory? You’d be surprised at how easily a simple method can decrease errors and improve efficiency.
6. Unoptimized picking paths
You have a prefixed route that you use when heading out to work because it’s an everyday affair. So, it’s only natural then that you consider a predefined picking path in the warehouse. Very often, supply chains underestimate the need for efficient picking paths. This amounts to more time, higher labour costs, and lower productivity. Defining Forward Locations is a great option. It allows a picker to minimize their distance. You can also plan for linear picking-paths allowing employees to complete their task in one area before moving on to the next.