Effective and proper management is key to preventing shipment delays and inaccuracies. When done correctly, it can make a difference between keeping costs down and fulfilling customer orders accurately and quickly. So, if you want to run your warehouse business smoothly, you should prioritize warehouse management.
Fortunately, there are different best practices you can consider when managing your warehouse, and they include the following:
1. Implement The Best Warehouse Management System (WMS)
A reliable WMS is designed to optimize and support the retrieval, tracking, and storage of your items in a warehouse. It’s primarily used to track shipments, manage personnel, manage inventory, and monitor product movement.
Investing in the best WMS system can provide numerous benefits to a company. It may help reduce costs, streamline operations, improve order accuracy, and enhance customer service. Yet to reap such benefits, choosing the system best suited to your company’s needs is vital.
When selecting a WMS, here are the features you should remember:
- Integration: A WMS must be easy to integrate with other business systems, including customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
- Reporting: The best WMS is capable of generating analytics and reports. This way, you’ll gain insights into your regular operations, enabling you to make well-informed decisions.
- Productivity: An excellent WMS with advanced features allows efficient warehouse operations and inventory handling, resulting in improved productivity. Such features include inventory tracking, picking and packing, order tracking, and automated data capture.
- Security: A secure WMS keeps your warehouse data safe. Typically, some of the security features you can find in many WMS include access control, authentication, and data encryption.
Aside from the abovementioned features, a WMS must be able to scale with your company’s changing needs as it grows. Nonetheless, whatever your requirements, settle with an affordable warehouse management system rich in features and advanced functionalities to make the most out of your investment.
2. Use Cross-Docking
One of the best warehouse management practices is implementing cross-docking. It’s a logistics process involving sorting, receiving items from suppliers, and shipping them to customers as soon as possible.
Additionally, cross-docking is used to lessen warehouse storage costs, improve customer service, and speed up delivery. Yet it’s a system that requires proper coordination between customers, warehouses, and suppliers. When carried out properly, cross-docking can help businesses move goods efficiently and quickly.
3. Anticipate Disruptions
Disruptions may happen anytime. So, another good warehouse management practice is anticipating them. For instance, if your equipment suddenly stops working, you must have a backup plan to ensure your system doesn’t experience downtime for an extended period.
Although disruptions can be manageable for small warehouses, they can be expensive for big companies. To reduce the costs, create a system backup or establish a crisis management taskforce to maintain business continuity.
4. Streamline Data Flow
To ensure an accurate and efficient management process, data integrity is essential. Automation allows you to prevent errors in your warehouse’s data analysis and collection processes. Streamlining data collection saves more time and reduces the possibility of inaccuracies too.
An excellent way to streamline your data flow is by establishing a comprehensive labeling plan. It enables your personnel to track everything effectively. Since entering data manually is time-consuming, it decreases efficiency and may lead to errors.
To avoid that, use radio frequency identification (RFID) and barcode labels to keep the manual entry of goods to a minimum. These two speed up and boost the accuracy of collecting data. Plus, they can improve your tracking and picking processes.
5. Enable Smart Picking
There are several ways to do the picking process effectively. Depending on your business operations, you may choose any method that suits best for your business. Nonetheless, there are some points to note to make this process efficient and easy.
For example, if you have seasonal items, it’s wise to have designated areas for them. This way, you can pick such items easily when the peak demand comes without disturbing your regular picking activities. In addition, if your warehouse space is limited, consider optimizing it by placing the slowest moving goods on the higher racks and putting the fastest moving items on the ground level.
You can consider other advanced techniques, such as installing conveyors, using automated systems, and more. But such techniques often involve more investment. If you’re running a small company, try starting with simple methods that can be done using your available resources.
6. Redesign Your Shipping Area
Your warehouse’s shipping area is the place where every dispatch and packing activity is handled. The time to pack and ship your items must be minimal in this area.
To make that happen, consider redesigning your shipping area to ensure a fast shipping process. You can start by labeling shelves clearly so your staff can quickly determine the right item. Once done right, you can maintain a more organized and smarter way of managing shipments.
7. Set And Track Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are typically seen as a way to set goals for people working in a corporate setting. Yet setting some KPIs for warehouse management can help you as well in achieving the goals you want to reach as your company grows.
KPIs in a warehouse may vary, but they may include the following:
- Organize and clean every area of the warehouse weekly;
- Reduce the time it takes to unload the delivery truck;
- Decrease shipment times for every incoming order; and others.
These are some examples of KPIs you can set within your warehouse. The good thing about KPIs is that they come with data tracking. It means you can quickly gather and track data to know whether you’re reaching goals.
8. Assign Employees To The Right Locations
A talented team of professionals is a plus, but it’s useless if you don’t assign them to the right locations. One of the warehouse management practices to remember is to assign your employees to the best possible locations. You have to know the best staff for particular operations to get the right outcomes.
To achieve that, create talent grids and align them to the most developed profiles. After that, position your employees accordingly. Not only it’ll make your regular operations more efficient, but it can also make your staff upgrade their skills, which can elevate their morale. So, consider assigning the right people to the right roles for optimum warehouse operations.
9. Keep Your Warehouse Clean
A well-cleaned warehouse is easy to operate, safe, and hygienic. But for big warehouses, cleaning can be a challenge. Luckily, you can follow some simple practices to maintain the cleanliness of your warehouse and keep your workers healthy. Such include the following:
- Have A Plan: Before you start cleaning, it’s crucial to ensure that it doesn’t hinder the warehouse’s productivity. As a solution, make sure to have a plan. Setting a well-planned and consistent schedule will help you balance timing and resources efficiently and execute cleaning smoothly.
- Keep Cleaning Supplies Ready: Having various cleaning suppliers ready may encourage your personnel to clean your warehouse. Moreover, if they walk a long distance or look for supplies, it’ll result in a waste of productive hours.
- Implement Clean-As-You-Go Policy: To maintain your warehouse’s neatness, consider implementing a policy that requires employees to clean up before they leave. It helps maintain your company’s standards and keep your warehouse hazard-free.
- Assign Specific Areas For Your Staff To Clean: A good way to ensure that particular areas are clean is by assigning particular areas to your staff members. Doing so helps maintain the productivity level of your staff, as incoming employees don’t need to clean up the mess left by the previous teams.
Warehouse management is more than just keeping the proper flow of items. Your warehouse also requires regular cleaning to promote a positive atmosphere, which can help improve productivity and increase warehouse safety. Follow the tips listed above to keep your warehouse clean and well-organized for everyone.
10. Prioritize Safety For Your Employees
There are countless safety guidelines and regulations that ensure your employees stay injury-free. Ensure whatever way you take your warehouse management, you put employee safety at the top of your list.
Employees must know how to climb ladders correctly, look for open shelving, drive forklifts, and more. Doing safety seminars and reminding everyone to be diligent can save your staff from harm.
Employees might not always question safety methods because they’re afraid to call out their supervisors. As a warehouse manager or business owner, you must be proactive to secure your staff’s safety. Doing so will help retain your employees and promote a safety culture for everyone.
One of the ways to keep your employees safe in your warehouse is to mark and identify hazardous zones. Stickers or signs are the most functional and cost-effective way of keeping your warehouse safe and away from hazardous situations.
Labeling equipment, racks, or materials clearly will help your employees prevent possible injuries. Marking the safest routes and emergency exits is also an excellent way to ensure safety in your warehouse.
Since not all businesses are the same, the best warehouse management practices may vary too. Depending on your needs or goals, you can make it safer for your employees or streamline processes to achieve more efficient operations.
If you don’t know where to start, follow and implement the abovementioned warehouse management practices. For the best results, experiment with various techniques until you figure out what works for your warehouse.