Warehouse and fulfilment staff are used to challenging, high-stakes work, with tight schedules and eager customers being the industry norm. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain on the supply chain combined with the increase in online shopping, warehouse staff are being worked harder than ever before.
With larger inventories, increased pressure and in many cases a lack of employees, for many it’s been challenging to say the least to keep up with the incredible demand. This is why it’s more important than ever to ensure that warehouse efficiency is at its very best. Not only does this make life easier for staff, but it increases productivity and means more money in your pocket.
Below, we’ve detailed 5 ways that businesses can improve warehouse efficiency and keep their customers happy, their staff as productive as possible and their profits booming.
- Use all available space
If you find that your warehouse is becoming too small for your business operations, chances are you just might not be utilising the space as efficiently as you could be. Better use of vertical space can make a world of difference, increasing your storage capabilities tenfold and helping you keep much more within your same square footage.
Wooden pallets are an excellent storage solution, although be wary of storing small items in large pallets. Instead, order smaller or customised pallets that will help you use every inch of them appropriately, and avoid misplacing things in the process too.
- Avoid unnecessary inventory
Any warehouse should aim to have a lean inventory – that is, only having what you need and nothing more. This will not only free up space but make it easier to locate items and keep track of what you have and what you don’t.
One way to do this might be to reduce the amount of safety stock that you keep in house, or to try and encourage suppliers to deliver smaller amounts of stock on a more frequent basis.
- Update your technology
A good warehouse management system can totally transform your warehouse operations, offering insight into your inventory and helping you manage supply chain operations from your distribution centre to your products’ final destination.
This makes it possible to greatly improve productivity and utilise space better within your warehouse. Many businesses are also integrating voice technology into their warehouses, thanks to its versatility amongst different processes and departments and its quick training time. Just make sure you invest in voice technology that’s actually worth investing in, as the quality of the technology can vary.
- Consider using third-party logistics
While using third-party logistics isn’t for every business, many find that it provides them with higher-quality fulfilment at a lower price than they’d pay to do it themselves. Many third-party companies have highly competitive pricing, as well as industry connections to get lower prices and quicker delivery times.
On top of this, using third-party logistics means that owners can focus on growing their business and establishing their brand as opposed to stressing about logistics all day. If you need to increase your warehouse, storage or order capacities, third-party logistics should be your first option to explore.
- Organise the workstations
Organising the workstations in your warehouse might sound like a mundane suggestion, but you’d be surprised at how much a little can go a long way. Organised workstations help increase productivity as workers no longer have to rummage for the equipment or tools they need.
The “5S” approach is a good one to take when instructing your employees on how to manage their work areas. They are: sort; set in order; shine; standardise; sustain. Following these five rules will help to reduce mess and clutter, eliminate unnecessary errors, increase safety and result in a more productive workforce.