Are you overlooking mistakes in your warehouse that are hurting your business?
While there is no one “right” way to manage a warehouse or manufacturing facility, there are several necessary principles that should be applied, regardless of your set-up or industry. When these principles are overlooked, warehouse operations are sure to be impeded by errors, accidents and misplaced products.
To avoid warehouse-wide inefficiencies, it’s important to recognize the common but easily avoidable mistakes made by warehouses big and small – and to find ways to prevent them in the future.
Here are our top five organizational mistakes that can keep your warehouse from achieving its full potential.
What’s the most common mistake plaguing modern warehouses? Storing too much inventory.
Despite the industry’s recent focus on reduction, the majority of warehouses still find themselves with an excess of inventory that takes up too much space and ties up budget that could be put to better use.
By holding on to excess or unaccounted for inventory, your other warehouse processes are more likely to be delayed. Also, while your employees are struggling to find space to store your extra product, the likelihood of them misplacing inventory or having errors in your records drastically increases.
To avoid this issue, optimize your order quantities and transition to a lean inventory management methodology, which means eliminating any activity or procedure that uses resources but does not add value in return. In terms of your inventory, initiating a lean methodology helps minimize your stock and prevents too much money being tied up in excess products.
If you’re finding your warehouse’s productivity is suffering, the first place to look is at your current workflows. Are your respective departments given the resources and space they need to succeed or are they forced to compete with other departments, encouraging inevitable errors or accidents?
Your different departments and their functions should align with their respective locations. For example, your shipping and receiving decks should be separate and sized appropriately depending on what’s being received or sent. It might be tempting to save a little space or money and place them on the same dock, but a move like that is simply begging for mistakes to occur. Outgoing orders could be misplaced with incoming orders, shipping and receiving vehicles could be competing for space and your employees could become easily frustrated.
It’s also a common issue for receiving areas to be too small – a fatal mistake. Problems starting in your receiving area can ripple throughout the rest of your warehouse, creating other inefficiencies and errors for your other employees and departments. This process breakdown can quickly erode profits.
By adjusting your current workflows and the space needed for each of your departments, you can increase your warehouse’s productivity and eliminate obstacles for your employees.
Picking Paths are Not Optimized
Even something as simple as picking paths, or the process of finding and extracting products from a warehouse to fulfill customer orders, can create organizational headaches.
If you’re overlooking how inefficient your picking paths are, this could easily affect your warehouse’s overall productivity, causing backups in other areas and increasing your labor costs.
To optimize your picking paths, start by making sure your paths are linear, allowing warehouse employees to complete each picking run at a location that’s close to your final shipping area. Focus on storing items that are commonly purchased together near one another. Research the right picking method for your warehouse – for example, perhaps transitioning to wave picking, batch picking or zone picking will work best for your set-up.
Finding the optimal picking path for your warehouse isn’t always simple, but it’s worth putting in the time to find the right solution to help keep your operations running smoothly.
Using Paper Processes
Another common warehouse mistake – often committed by smaller warehouses and manufacturing plants – is sticking to inefficient, paper-based processes.
This manual way of keeping tracking of your business is not only much slower than digital methods, but it’s also prone to mistakes and delays that will cost you time and money to fix.
By taking away the labor of manual paper documenting and transiting to digital systems, such as warehouse management/execution systems and information storage systems, your business’s organizational prowess is bound to increase.
For example, you could invest in newer warehouse picking technologies that eliminate paper processing and allow your operators to work quickly and effectively. There are also simple workflow and warehouse management/execution systems that can be easily introduced to your company. These systems can increase your reporting accuracy and also cut down on wasteful paper consumables.
It may feel safer to continue using paper processes for your warehouse, but in the end, it only leaves you liable for inevitable human error. By automating your systems, you can delegate that extra time you’ll save to other important tasks and rest assured that your information is stored safely, accurately and efficiently.
Lack of Safety Precautions or Policies
The most dangerous mistake a warehouse of any size can make is not creating (or following) safety measures.
Even if your warehouse is technically well-organized, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a safe environment for your team. For good warehouse safety management, you need to be aware of not only obvious hazards but the hidden ones as well. Hidden hazards can include blocked exits, products being left where they shouldn’t be or having your employees perform dangerous actions.
For example, if your employees are moving heavy or awkward products by hand, it may be time to invest in an industrial manipulator. An industrial manipulator can help your employees easily maneuver products on their own. The operator of your machine uses minimal effort to quickly and easily any products, instead of moving or lifting anything that could cause them harm, and the risk of injury is significantly reduced.
Increasing warehouse safety starts with creating and obeying safety measures, being vigilant against hidden hazards, and ensuring the safety of your employees by using up-to-date machinery that helps them do their job quickly and safely.
Improve Your Warehouse Efficiency
By adjusting your warehouse to address these common mistakes, you can create a working environment that’s more successful for your business and creates a safer, healthier and more productive workplace for your employees.
For many warehouses, a first major step towards increasing their efficiency is investing in industrial manipulators for their business. If you’re interested in how our custom-built manipulators could help transform your warehouse, contact Dalmec today to discuss your options.
Looking for more ways to optimize your warehouse? Follow our top 5 tips in our free guide: