Your warehouse sits at the heart of your business and it’s important that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Having a well-oiled warehouse system, as you probably know, is so important in getting the best from your employees and your business. No matter your size, how long you’ve been trading or whether you have an automated warehouse management system in place, it is always worth reviewing and looking for improvements to ensure you’re running at ultimate efficiency.
It’s important to regularly review your business processes in all departments, but it’s critical for your warehouse system because it has such a large impact on your staff, customers and ultimately profits. But, it’s not about working harder to achieve your goals, it’s focusing on working smarter to achieve your goals with simple changes.
Take the time to review your current processes and look at your stock loss and stock holding figures, employee efficiency and satisfaction, delivery and return rates and any profit discrepancies. Analysing these figures and stats will help to highlight any issues or areas for improvement. For a business to succeed and continue to progress change is key and it shouldn’t be seen as a negative.
Need some inspiration on how you can work smarter to improve warehouse processes? Find out what has proved most helpful from our customers who rely heavily on smart, organised warehouse procedures and get insider information from our on-site Account Managers who have over 40 years’ experience in the industry.
Design a workable, usable warehouse space
Warehouse space can very quickly and easily become disorganised and out of control. Before you know it, your once empty space is overcrowded with unlabelled stock, misplaced items and uncategorised products that makes picking items and managing profits very hard.
Maximise your space, whether it’s small or large, to meet the needs of your company. Not one solution fits all and it’s important to understand your employees needs and how they fit with your business processes and customer expectations. Your main objectives will likely involve; making the most out of your warehouse staff’s time, keeping control over your stock and maintaining a high level of customer service and only you will be able to decide on how to plan your space to meet your goals.
Embrass Peerless, a long-standing OGL customer, explains that, “we’ve designed the layout of the warehouse in order to use the system most effectively which has really made the business flourish.”
Start with taking a pencil to paper and sketching out your space. It can be easier to organise if you can visualise what you’re dealing with. Then it’s important to consider the space needed for receiving goods, how your employees will pack the items, what stock you have and how you want it picked and the journey time it takes to move around the space. Answers to these questions will slowly allow you to build an organised, coherent, smart warehouse solution.
Finish good, start better
Start as you mean to go on. If your team starts their day with an organised and clean warehouse space, then it’s easier to maintain throughout the day. In order to get the best start to the day you need to finish the day with an organised space.
Set some stock room standards that are followed every evening to ensure the warehouse is closed to a high standard to start the following day off well. We all know how frustrating it is to walk into work to extra tasks on your list that should have been completed the night before. Having a clear list of tasks that need to be completed on close down, which could include; sweeping the floors, removing rubbish, replacing returned stock and documenting damages, will ensure everyone is on the same page.
This does require allocating specific time for closing. Allowing your employees the time to close instead of rushing it in the last 5 minutes will ensure standards are kept high.
Minimise unauthorised personnel
Your warehouse staff will be trained and knowledgeable about your warehouse standards and processes. Minimise any disruption by only allowing these authorised people to enter the warehouse. Allowing all employees in the warehouse could mean standards could slip or processes are disrupted, which creates extra work to keep under control.
Give your warehouse staff a recognisable uniform, badge or lanyard to make it clear who is permitted to enter.
Utilise cycle counts
Cycle counts, an inventory counting method, could save you time and money. By counting a number of items in a number of areas, throughout the year gives you control over your stock and the ability to correct or amend any discrepancies as you go, as opposed to creating a mountain of work once a year.
Don’t rely on a yearly stocktake to keep track of your products, simply create a schedule for the year to do mini checks on multiple items to allow you to proactively maintain your warehouse. This perpetual approach to stock-taking has delivered significant benefits to OGL customer, Embrass:
“Before installing prof.ITplus we used to shut down for a week before Christmas in order to conduct a stock take, which was costing the business around £80,000 every year. Another contribution to our turnover increase since going with prof.ITplus.
We now run perpetual stock takes throughout the year which generally take between one and two hours. We feel this is much more accurate and gives our purchasing department a better idea of where we are. Our staff also seem a lot happier doing it this way.”
Know your best sellers
Popular products will be picked more often so it makes sense for them to be more accessible. Use a sales analysis tool to understand your most picked items and choose a top 20 that you can locate to the front of the packing area to make life easier. You may even organise your whole warehouse by popularity to ensure time spent picking is kept to a minimum.
Your list could vary throughout the year and may change seasonally, so it’s worth alternating the ‘top picks’ to keep your warehouse up-to-date.
Thorough training on your management system
Utilising your system to the max will ensure you’re getting the most for your money. Training new staff is just as important as keeping on top of training for your existing employees. Your system may regularly update with new features, or system features may now be relevant to you that weren’t when you began, so it’s important to be informed on what your warehouse management system can do for you and how you can utilise it better.