If you want to run a successful warehouse business, then it’s vitally important to prioritise organisation and have effective management procedures in place. The layout of your warehouse and the processes and systems that keep your warehouse running efficiently and effectively, form the basis of a prospering business. With good management systems in place, shipping errors can be minimised, delivery times achieved, and it is possible to decrease overheads and running costs.
Organising a warehouse in the correct way can make or break the efficiency of your operations. Organisation means not only the physical layout of the space, but also how it is configured so that processes flow and different areas are clearly defined for all the necessary steps including receiving goods, inventory management, and shipping. A well organised layout, and good system of labelling and signage, are the foundation of a well-run warehouse operation.
In this article, we take a look at the top seven ways to improve your warehouse organisation that will benefit your business.
Re-evaluate your warehouse design
Layout and design are an integral part of good warehouse organisation. Knowing where all your products are and how to reach them in the quickest time possible, will lower the number of shipping errors you incur, lower your costs and keep your warehouse running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If demand for your products increases, or you add more product lines to your business, then you will need to address your requirement for more space. But you don’t want this to be a crisis; it’s better to plan in advance for growth rather than be playing catch up. Therefore, it is crucial to do an annual evaluation of your warehouse space and identify potential crunch points and areas that need improvement. Identify those locations where you can store more simply through slight adjustments, ways you can you make the flow path better and areas of dead space that are currently under-utilised. Although this may seem like a huge task, without it, you cannot plan to expand your business.
Create distinct sections
One of the most important and perhaps the most straightforward steps you can take to improve the organisation of your warehouse is to create segmentation. It has many benefits because it helps to make the daily activities faster and more efficient, which means there will be fewer opportunities for errors. Similarly, all warehouse staff will know where to look for things, which avoids confusion and delays when it comes to delivering products on time. It makes sense to have separate sections for each activity and part of the operation such as packaging, shipping, returns, raw material, and inventory. Different techniques and methods can be used to implement this, such as the ABC or 5S methodology depending on the space available and ease of implementation.
Use heavy duty bulk containers
Heavy duty containers benefit warehouses in a variety of industries when it comes to storing, picking, processing, assembling and distributing products. Plastic bulk containers have many benefits, such as durability, and being water resistant, and they can stand hundreds of trips without any damage. They are also environmentally friendly as the type of plastic used can be recycled. Heavy duty containers are extremely strong and can withstand the weight of heavy products. They can also be stacked up to six or eight high, which saves warehouse space when they aren’t being used.
Label your inventory
Even if you have organised your sections, it is still important to label each item or a specific product batch individually. Always use the same tags for each box and have a fixed location of the tags so that it’s easy to look for them. You should include information such as stock keeping unit, product number, size, quantity, date of purchase, expiry, and colour on your labels. Another beneficial and efficient way to label your warehouse products is to use Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) barcodes, which allow you to scan the product, with all details related to the product then showing on your scanner.
Keep the warehouse clean
Good organisation is directly related to cleanliness because it will not only help in sorting out and identifying the items better but also save from any potential safety hazards and accidents. Chances of accidents are increased when surfaces are slippery, unclean or messy. If items are not packed away correctly they pose a trip hazard or may be a danger if they can fall on staff. Keeping warehouse thoroughfares tidy and clear is essential too.
The pallet racking system is far more efficient than floor stacking in most cases because it not only saves space and streamlines operations, but also helps with better organisation. Most businesses make use of this system to maximise efficiency. The storage of products is easier and they can be accessed with far more ease too when stored on pallets. The vertical inventory sorting system also results in more space being made available for materials to be stored and is safer than other systems because it is made from high quality and durable steel.
Use ergonomic equipment
Using ergonomic equipment provides your employees with more safety and comfort when working in the warehouse. When your employees feel that they can work freely without worrying about their well-being, they will get more work done and productivity rates will increase. Warehouse staff will work at their optimum levels because they feel safe and feel that their health is a priority. Ergonomic equipment can be found for all sizes and types of business, meaning that you can easily incorporate them into your workplace, whatever your trade or field. You can also customise them to suit the products and materials you use, and the working arrangements in place at your organisation.
A warehouse with optimised layout and design is critical to the success of your business. Taking care of these simple things can go a long way towards ensuring you are getting the best out of the space available.