The end of the year, when the holiday rush has subsided and your stocks are possibly somewhat depleted, is an excellent time to evaluate the efficiency of your warehouse organization in preparation for the New Year. Here are some tips on how to go about it.
#1 Reassess the layout of your warehouse and if necessary rework your floor plan
Proper layout is absolutely key to the smooth functioning of your warehouse. A good floor plan that is clear and easily understood by everybody greatly improves efficiency. Also, try to group like and like together in a logical order. Make sure that you display maps of your layout that indicate ‘You are here’ at strategic points in your warehouse.
And as you work on your floor plan, bear the following two factors in mind:
- Accessibility. This means that you must be able to get at everything, preferably without moving other things. Clear and unambiguous labeling and signage, keeping in mind that all your workers may not speak English very well, so graphic elements might be useful here.
- Flow. Free and efficient movement of products, people and vehicles is essential. Whether you utilize forklift hire to minimize costs or have your own fleet, your aisles must be wide enough to allow these vehicles and their loads ample maneuverability without sacrificing an undue amount of storage space.
#2 Have a good hard look at your shelving and storage solutions
Are your existing shelving and storage solutions working well for you, or are they causing bottlenecks that negatively impact the flow through your warehouse? If so, you might need to replace some of them or possibly add new ones.
If some product is blocked and this necessitates moving stock before other stock can be accessed, reorganization is almost certainly required. Ask yourself whether any problems that cropped up during the busy holiday season originated in the way stock is stored. If so, you will need to address the issue.
#3 And are you maximizing the warehouse space that you have available?
This is an absolutely key issue and can materially affect the efficiency with which your warehouse functions. Optimizing vertical space for storage makes good sense in any storage area, big or small.
Also make sure that you have the stock that has a higher frequency of sale stored lower down and more easily accessible, also in relation to your loading bay. Items that are bought less frequently can well be stored higher up. Of course, the weight and physical dimensions of products will also determine where they can be stored.
#4 Assess your maintenance and cleaning schedules and upgrade them if necessary
The importance of regular maintenance and cleaning schedules in a warehouse cannot be overstated. Are your schedules ensuring that you have a clean, organized, efficient warehouse, or are they in fact not making the grade?
Put bluntly, cluttered, dirty aisles and poorly organized and poorly lit working spaces in a warehouse are not only bad for worker morale (which will impact efficiency and productivity) but are simply accidents waiting to happen.
So make sure that your maintenance and cleaning schedules ensure that your warehouse is at all times compliant with OSHA guidelines – for your own safety and that of your employees.
#5 Is your warehouse short on storage? How about a mezzanine floor installation?
If the structure of your warehouse allows, installing a mezzanine floor is a very good way of creating extra space. Though costly, it is far less expensive than extending your warehouse or buying a bigger structure and relocating. It is a functional and efficient way of adding more storage or office space in what can, in essence, be called dead-air space.
Another factor to consider in this regard is that adding a mezzanine floor to your building will not only give you the advantage of added space and greater efficiency, but you will also increase the value of your building. It is advisable to have the construction done by companies that specialize in this type of construction to ensure that it is safe, as the weight will obviously be a huge factor.
#6 Is your warehouse operation utilizing digital technology to best effect?
As you are gearing up for the new year, it is also a very good time to evaluate whether digital technology is helping you run your warehouse to best effect. Warehouse costs are increasing rapidly, and mobile technology is one way to try and combat that.
The ways in which digital technology can improve the running of your warehouse are many and varied. Mobile computers, mobile printers, and clip-on mobile printers and barcode scanners are just some of the digital tech that can make your life – and that of your employees – easier.