The warehouse industry is astonishingly big, and its growth shows no sign of slowing down. In such a demanding industry, worker efficiency is important. If you are in a position where you are just becoming responsible for warehouse operations, you may not know how to yield the best results from your workers and workplace. In this article we are going to offer some top tips on improving warehouse operations.
Table of Contents
Make Your Warehouse Operations Lean
If you have never heard of the phrase ‘’lean warehouse operations’’, it is one that is extremely valuable. But what does this phrase mean? When we refer to warehouse operations as ‘’lean’’, we describe a process of operations that are simplified and efficient.
Warehouses vary in scale, but some can be the size of small towns. The consumer market is huge, and warehouses are at the foundation of this market. From inventory management to sorting, picking and shipping, operations in a warehouse can quickly become unmanageable without order.
We encourage you to look at your current setup, and try to identify ways that you could complete the job better. Not quicker, but better. Efficiency is chief in the warehouse industry. Ask yourself whether there are better systems you could rely on for picking. Perhaps you could look at your inventory management systems and identify ways to improve stock placement. These are just a few ideas, but the aim is for you to maximise results whilst minimising exertion.
Ensure All Employees Are Properly Trained
Without employees, warehouse operations would cease. The warehouse industry, especially, is reliant on employees, and they are often the backbone of operations. It is hugely important that employees are familiar with the practices, procedures and systems used to ensure operational efficiency.
Thorough employee training is often overlooked by employers. It is often expensive to train employees to a high standard, and it is time consuming. Although we can understand why an employer may find it appealing to throw an employee straight into operations, this is the wrong thing to do.
Training employees in every area of the business may be time consuming, but will pay dividends in the long run. A workforce that is familiar with their company’s systems is one that will work efficiently and effectively. If you use any specialised computer programs or have mechanical equipment that needs to be operated, this is especially important.
Build a Communicative Environment
One of your chief aims for improving warehouse operations should be efficiency. To be more efficient, you have to communicate. A communicative work environment will not only improve operations, but it will be nicer to work in. All areas of the business should feel comfortable communicating with each other, and there should be no barriers based on rank or position. For example, pickers on the floor should feel confident approaching management with any work related issues. Additionally, management should accommodate staff and work in conjunction with them to find a solution.
If you successfully build this kind of work environment, problems will get solved quicker, operations will run smoother and people will enjoy their job.
Maximise Staff Comfort
Improving warehouse operations, for the most part, requires you to examine your workforce. Warehouse work can be long, and on occasion can be taxing. Employees may spend many hours of the day picking and packing orders. Moreover, they may have to lift heavy items consistently. If your staff are not comfortable, you are inviting productivity issues.
There are a number of things you can do to boost staff comfort and thus morale. Perhaps you could offer a comfortable uniform, or you could provide proper air conditioning during the summer months. You may also wish to look at heating options if your warehouse is cold. Warm air heating systems are widely used to heat warehouses, and electric, oil or gas systems can be purchased depending on your needs. The Chillaire team are experts in gas fired warm air heating systems, and have been installing and maintaining them for many years.
Complete Regular Audits and Reviews
Audits and reviews will help you to make your warehouse operations lean. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of regular audits and reviews. Not only will this help to give staff a clear idea of success, but it will help you identify areas of concern.
It is a good idea to take an objective look at operations, and see where you could all improve. Ask yourself: are we working fast enough? Are we making use of all the tools at our disposal? Are we communicating effectively?
We advise you to collate all your findings, and have reviews periodically. Ensure the results of your audit are communicated to everyone, and set clear goals and aims for the future.