With the holiday season on the horizon, manufacturers can expect a significant increase in inventory and production needs. That means your facilities’ shipping and receiving areas will be busier than ever.
During times like these, it’s crucial for manufacturers to keep a close eye on shipping and receiving productivity, which can point to your facility and company performance overall.
Today, we’re going to cover our top tips for manufacturers to boost the efficiency of your shipping and receiving areas while keeping your employees safe:
Optimize Your Floor Space
We’ve discussed how important it is for manufacturers to maximize and optimize your warehouse floor space throughout your facilities. But specifically, receiving and shipping areas can fall victim to “space crunches.” This means your storage, picking and packing areas have more room than your important delivery spaces.
For manufacturers, space crunches can be disastrous, because they often lead to products to start getting damaged or lost.
During the holiday season’s eCommerce boom, you’ll likely be receiving and shipping a higher volume of items. That means you’ll have even less space with even more inventory during an already stressful time of year.
To ensure you have ample room for shipping and receiving, manufacturer leadership should consider the storage systems they use in all their facilities, and other options available. This brings us to our next point:
Review Storage Practices
Improving storage practices goes hand-in-hand with optimizing your floor space. Creating more room for your shipping and receiving areas sometimes involves looking for more creative, organized storage practices.
First, ensuring that your current storage systems are being used safely is crucial. Before the holiday season kicks in, speak to your facility leadership and team members on the floor to get their thoughts on storage systems. Ask questions like:
- Are your shelving units secured sufficiently?
- Are items being organized correctly? If products aren’t in the correct place or left on the floor, it doesn’t just clutter your employees’ workspace. It’s a major accident risk.
- Are your pallets in good condition and able to support the weight of your products? Pallets that fall apart mid-transport can cause a significant backup not only in your shipping areas but in every area of your warehouse. Remind your facility teams to be mindful of weight limits and consistently inspect pallets for signs of stress fractures and loose hardware.
- Are you missing out on additional storage? Depending on this answer, you can discuss other methods, like upward storage. Many shelving options today can be stacked higher, meaning fewer products will clog up the floor.
Move Away from Paper Processes
It can be challenging to adapt to a new system. Often, it may feel easier to stick with what’s worked in the past. But many manufacturers today are choosing to transition their facilities toward digital management for their product inventory, shipping updates, reporting, etc.
Switching to a warehouse management system (WMS) will not only help you compete with other companies. You’ll also be able to streamline your shipping and receive process considerably.
A WMS comprises software, hardware and processes that allow warehouses to manage operations from when materials arrive until they are shipped out. A quality WMS can make a significant impact for manufacturers, with benefits including keeping shipping and receiving areas running smoothly.
Since they’re the first and last stop in your facilities, quality control in your receiving and shipping areas is paramount.
Once you’ve implemented a WMS to help organize your warehouse process, you can continue to encourage superior quality control by:
- Avoiding Excess Inventory: Excess inventory can clog up every area of your facilities. Not only that, from a manufacturing leadership perspective, it can quickly tie up your cash flow. But it can be even more challenging if excess product encroaches on shipping and receiving areas. Keep track of your inventory levels with your WMS.
- Embracing Lean Manufacturing: Lean manufacturing is a method that helps manufacturers take advantage of opportunities for improvement and focus on value creation for customers. This process aims to improve warehouse processes by maximizing value and minimizing waste.
- Cleaning Throughout The Day: If your shipping and receiving areas don’t have enough room, the likelihood of cluttered workspaces will increase exponentially. That’s especially true if there’s a lack of adequate working space or no designated areas for specific tasks. Ensure your employees clean and organize as they go to avoid this.
- Choose The Right Picking Strategy: Chances are, as your warehouse has evolved, the picking strategy implemented years ago is no longer ideal. Choosing a new system allows your warehouse to customize the picking process depending on what works best for your floor and your team. Learn more about different picking strategies here.
- Keep Items Labeled: Mislabeling products can lead to shipping, picking, and overall order inaccuracies. It increases the probability of errors for your customers or confusion in your facility.
Invest in Material Handlers
As manufacturers, you know your facility teams will be rushing to get orders out the door during the holiday months. In that case, it can be easy to overlook your employees’ safety and physical stress to get orders out on time – especially if you’re short on employees.
Without tools like material handlers, your employees will burn out more quickly and are more likely to be involved in an accident on the job. Not only will this be costly for your company, but it could leave your employees with life-long injuries. That’s why industrial manipulators are vital for keeping your employees’ shipping and receiving areas productive and safe.
An industrial manipulator is a machine with a rigid steel manipulator arm that allows for complex pneumatic tilts and rotations.
For example, Dalmec industrial manipulators are often used when:
- A product is too heavy for a person to move manually.
- A product must be moved to a location that is not easily or quickly accessible for a person to reach, like a very tall shelf.
- A person will be put at risk for injury if they move a product manually.
- A person will quickly fatigue from moving products manually.
- A high volume of products must be moved in a timely fashion.
If you have questions about how industrial manipulators help manufacturers take control of their shipping and receiving processes, contact Dalmec today. Our team will be happy to discuss your options.