Warehouse efficiency was important before COVID-19, but the pandemic drastically sped up the growth of e-commerce. As of May 2020, the e-commerce industry had seen a 77% year-over-year increase. Recent insights by MasterCard predict that, going forward, the industry will retain that increase by approximately 20-30%.
Because increasing warehouse efficiency is so critical right now, let’s look at a few simple strategies and changes you can make to streamline your operations
1. Implement new technology to optimize operational flow.
Technology can help your team increase overall accuracy and productivity. Streamlining and digitizing your business data will make it easier than ever to reference the information you need, when you need it. You’ll also be able to better manage increasing demand as the e-commerce boom continues.
Warehouse management systems (WMS) software is one way to leverage technology to improve operations. WMS streamlines workflow and enables accurate forecasting. It can also help facilities to cut costs. While WMS can help warehouses become more efficient and save money on logistics, like any solution, it’s important to determine whether it’s right for your facility’s individual needs.
Additionally, consider updating your inventory management system through radio frequency identification (RFID), QR codes, or barcode-based inventory tracking. Wireless technology allows your team members to move anywhere in your facility with their mobile devices and still stay connected to the network as they track incoming and outgoing products.
2. Reduce operational costs.
To boost warehouse efficiency, consider auditing your facility to learn how and where you might be able to reduce operational costs. Take a look at your facilities, distribution practices, and the functions your team is fulfilling. Consider the amount of time each task takes to complete and examine whether you can cut down on resources while speeding up the process. Hiring someone to manage your warehouse, or a third-party contractor to conduct the audit, can reveal valuable insights.
Automation can help you reduce your overall operational costs and streamline your processes, making your facility leaner in the long run. ASRS (Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems) and Robotic Automation are two options. Through automating some of your processes, you free your essential team members to work where they excel most, utilizing the best of their talents while technology helps get the job done.
3. Alleviate labor challenges.
Alleviating labor challenges in your warehouse is another way to improve efficiency. These issues can range from how products are organized to how far your employees have to walk from one station to the next to complete their jobs. Let’s look at a few of the labor challenges you can reduce or resolve for a more efficient space.
- Eliminating as much wasted time as possible is an important step. How far your team members have to travel back and forth to complete tasks will impact how long it takes to finish each job.
- Arrange your warehouse in such a way that operations flow smoothly and your facility is easy to navigate. Consider organizing products by demand or alphabetically for easy picking. Make it as straightforward as possible for your team members to swiftly locate the items they’re looking for.
- Cross-docking can help team members locate and send out recent arrivals.
The flow throughout your facility is an important consideration. Clearly mark the directional pathways your team members should be following so they avoid bottlenecks during their daily operations. Avoid having people and vehicles take the same pathways.
- If your facility is tight on space, an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), or other high density storage system, could be helpful.
- Listen to your team and ask for feedback. This will give you valuable insight into possible improvements that could be made. Ask them specifically about how workspaces are organized and how traffic flows throughout the facility.
- Prioritize better equipment maintenance and increased safety measures. Keeping your people and the tools they use safe will protect your time.
Ultimately, focusing on continuous improvement will help you determine where you can best boost your facility’s efficiency. The combined efforts of your management team and your employees will help you better streamline your operations going forward.
IndPro Services, a leader in U.S. Federal Government and commercial systems procurement, provides efficient, innovative, and results-driven solutions. Dedicated to improving efficiency in warehouse and distribution center operations, we work on the same side of the table with you to help you procure the best possible solution for your specific application.
To increase the efficiency of your operations, contact IndPro Services today. We can help you figure out the most efficient, cost-effective, and disruption-proof solutions for your organization.