Efficient warehouses are crucial for customer satisfaction because they help to ensure quick and reliable shipments. If your warehouse makes a mistake, it can have a knock-on effect for your whole business and reputation amongst customers. If you are looking for some ideas to boost your warehouse operations and improving warehouse efficiency, read on.

Maximise and use the space

Go up rather than out! Instead of extending the size of your warehouse, consider using vertical space better. Adding taller storage facilities and the right equipment to pick and store products can help you keep more in the same square footage, rather than the additional costs of expansion. You also should think about the sort of shelving that you are using. Storing smaller items on pallet racks is a waste of space, making it easy to lose things. Rather than using the same racks in your warehouse, you may need different types of shelving for different products 

Adopt a lean inventory system

Contrary to popular belief, having a warehouse that is overstocked is not efficient. All it does is leave it looking and feeling cluttered. This means things are more likely to be misplaced, or items are picked in error. To keep it working efficiently, adopt a lean inventory system. This, of course, only works if you can work with suppliers to have more regular but smaller deliveries. It involves keeping a lean inventory – what you need to keep ticking over for a short period of time. This can be nerving as you are removing your safety stock, but you will see that works well once you are used to it. 

Adopt a warehouse management system

While this may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if you are on a budget, it is essential if you want a warehouse that works smoothly. A quality warehouse management system will suggest routes and methods for the most efficient picking and putting away, and if you have one with automated pick lists, you will soon work out how to avoid picking errors

Organise work stations

Lots of clutter and mess is bad news for efficiency. If you organize workstations, you will see a jump in productivity – for starters; your workers won’t be wading through piles of paper and unwanted picks to find their mobile reader or picking device. Adopt the 5 s rule – Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain, to keep workstations tidy and organized. Have buckets next to each station for picks that are no longer needed and empty them regularly, putting them back in their rightful place.

Optimise labour efficiency

The warehouse management system that we mentioned above will help you with this, but there are things that you can do manually to improve and optimize efficiency. Look at your picking history and place the most commonly picked products near the front, and products that are sold or picked together regularly next to one another. Putting them somewhere accessible will help you to streamline operations.

Always Ensure Operational Safety

It’s important to safeguard employee wellbeing and abide by legal health and safety rulings when operating your warehouse too. In fact, it would be very short-sighted indeed not to see this as a crucial part of efficiency. After all, if an employee was to have an accident, and be signed off work, it’s your operation that would suffer, as well as the individual. And the longer-term consequences of a lawsuit, an investigation into your health and safety practices, or gaining a reputation as a place that does not value employee welfare are all things that could massively impact productivity into the future. Efficiency should take these factors into account and not seek to cut corners with finances, time or other resources. Having the right PPE and safety equipment in place in a warehouse environment, such as safety devices for Fall arrest, is a key factor in keeping everyone working in the warehouse safe. When people feel secure, they are also likely to be able to become more speedy at their tasks, and therefore you gain efficiency in that way as well.

Improving warehouse efficiency is down to a combination of human common sense and technology. Use them together, and you will see your productivity output increase.

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