Key Elements to an Efficient Warehouse Workflow

Warehousing is often neglected for its perceived simplicity, but it is one of the most powerful parts in your supply chain.

There are numerous ways to significantly enhance a warehouse’s service and efficiency, and these improvements translate into greater overall productivity for a business.

The fundamentals

Every manufacturer needs both warehousing and distribution. One of the more ignored secrets of success is to look at the basic principles of a warehouse.

Warehouse managers should ensure their picking strategy fits their organization. Supply chain staff looking to optimize productivity can choose from single order, multiorder, batch picking with a single picker, or zone picking.

A warehouse can gain incredible efficiency by bunching the 20 percent of SKUs that complete 80 percent of their orders. This slashes travel time for pickers. Warehouse managers should be sure, however, the “80-20 location” is correctly built to cater to high-volume activity.

It should be noted, the modern realities of the Long Tail may not offer the chance make use of the 80-20 rule as a warehouse may be shipping a few of many items, rather than a lot of just a few items.

A warehouse’s most in-demand SKUs probably shift with the seasons, so it can be very effective to make seasonal adjustments in accordance with the company’s business model and evaluate the changes to inform the following year’s strategy. This ensures “A” SKUs are in the appropriate storage and location, decreasing needless travel for pickers. Many warehouse management systems (WMS) have a dynamic “slotting” module to accommodate seasonal changes.

Leveraging technology

WMS software can also organize the workflow and maximize sequence performance. Most systems can sequence orders by pick path, and batch together single lines, same-zone orders and hard picks. This optimization can save a lot of time on the warehouse floor.

Order pickers devote approximately 60 percent of their time transferring product or shifting product around. An automated solution, like conveyance, can significantly reduce workers’ travel time. Multi-level pick towers can also save worker’s significant time.

There are many other options when it comes to boosting efficiency, including bar codes, QR codes, radio frequency and voice-activated technologies. These technologies are intended to offer various amounts of higher picking efficiency and enhanced consistency.

Optimizing storage and shipping

Using just two or three standard shipping sizes, cuts freight expenses and decreases corrugated spend. With just two or three containers to select from, pickers can put orders together quicker.

Putting slow-moving, low-cube products in container shelving and fast-moving products in carton/pallet flow, or other suitable storage space options, enhances storage density and picker efficiency.

Maximize staff efficiency

Incentive programs can be very useful to an organization. To make sure a program works well, management must ensure productivity measurements are correct, fair and reasonable. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to push productivity.

Another way to maximize warehouse staff efficiency is through a custom talent acquisition solution from Labor Temps. If your warehouse is in need of staffing support, please contact us today.