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What Can Small Warehouses Learn From The Big Guys

Small warehouses can gain much by observing and adopting strategies and technologies employed by larger counterparts.

From optimizing processes to enhancing security and safety, the big players in the industry offer valuable lessons.

Key Takeaways

  • Small warehouses can learn from larger operations by implementing automation, such as conveyor systems and robots, to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs.
  • Adopting a warehouse management system (WMS) can help small warehouses optimize inventory management, order fulfillment, and shipping processes.
  • Utilizing data analytics can provide valuable insights into warehouse performance, allowing small operations to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.
  • Focusing on employee training and development can lead to a more skilled and efficient workforce, ultimately improving overall warehouse productivity.
  • Collaborating with suppliers and customers to streamline processes, such as implementing just-in-time inventory management, can help small warehouses reduce costs and improve service levels.

RFID tags for process automation

One key technology that big warehouses have embraced is Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. These tags store and remotely retrieve data, enabling automation in various processes such as inventory management, tracking goods, and monitoring supply chain movements. 

Implementing RFID in a small warehouse involves several steps:

Firstly, the specific needs and challenges of the warehouse must be assessed to determine how RFID can address them effectively. This might include inventory accuracy, order fulfillment efficiency, or labor optimization.

Small businesses may find it challenging to integrate RFID technology with existing systems. However, compatible software solutions for inventory management and tracking can facilitate seamless communication between RFID readers and warehouse management systems.

Security

Controlled access, CCTV surveillance, and secured doors are standard security measures employed by big warehouses to safeguard assets and prevent unauthorized entry or theft. 

For small warehouses, it remains possible to implement most of these measures at a trim level. 

For instance, if access control systems are not an option, such as keycards, biometric scanners, or PIN codes, restrict entry to authorized personnel only; small warehouses can use manned access instead. 

Deploying CCTV cameras is not negotiable. Small warehouses can strategically use them to monitor key areas, such as access points. Remote monitoring capabilities allow for real-time surveillance and recording of activities.

Finally, there is a need for professional doors, such as overhead door steel rolling curtains, which can be a game-changer. You also want to ensure all commercial Overhead Door repair and maintenance needs are tackled in real-time. Of course, securing rolling doors with locks, alarms, or electronic mechanisms will do the trick, but this won’t protect you against a damaged door. 

Reducing injuries on-site

In-house safety is paramount in any warehouse environment, regardless of size. The high injury rate in warehouses, more than double the rate of injury and illness rate across all other industries, reflects the importance of implementing effective safety measures to protect workers and minimize workplace accidents. This is just as valid for small warehouses! 

Conduct regular safety training and awareness programs for all warehouse staff, focusing on proper lifting techniques, equipment operation, hazard recognition, and emergency procedures. Empowering employees with the knowledge and skills to identify and mitigate risks can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents.

Enforce strict adherence to safety protocols and procedures, including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), maintaining clear pathways and emergency exits, and promptly reporting any safety hazards or near misses. Consistent reinforcement of safety policies fosters a culture of safety awareness and accountability among warehouse staff.

Effective floor planning

Your floor planning determines the storage strategy, another area where small warehouses can benefit from adopting best practices observed in more extensive facilities. Efficient storage strategies optimize space utilization, minimize search and retrieval times, and facilitate faster shipping and order fulfillment. 

It implements a systematic storage layout based on product characteristics, demand patterns, and workflow requirements. This may involve organizing inventory by SKU, category, or velocity and allocating dedicated storage zones or shelves for different items.

There is no denying that the warehouse sector faces a lot of challenges. However, when small businesses implement the same strategies as big brands, they can establish themselves as experts. 

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