Every warehouse manager finds that increasing productivity is a top priority. However, with so many variables that affect it (such as scheduling, staffing, labor, workloads, and third-party vendors), one can easily get lost and find it difficult to pinpoint the most important areas to focus on. Believe it or not, warehouse productivity can actually decrease if changes are made to too many areas at once. However, once you pinpoint the most important areas and ways to increase productivity, maintaining them will be a much easier task. Here, we present you with some of the best ways in which you can improve the productivity of your warehouse.
#1 – Less Processes – Fewer Touches – Lower Costs
Do order and product flow crisscross the floor and no longer make sense? Have you been layering new warehouse functions over the existing ones over the years? Then, you should take a look at the steps involved in order fulfillment and product flow, as well as at the physical processes. Less processes and steps equal fewer touches and reduced costs.
#2 – Measure Before You Improve
What are your costs on shipped orders, cost per line shipped and cost per box? Do you know your critical productivity? Does your operation manage critical key performance indicators (KPIs)? These metrics are critical and you should always have them measured and prepared for analysis. Otherwise, you won’t be able to assess and apply cost reduction measures the right way. Once you establish these basic things, give regular feedback to your employees on departmental and individual performance. They will respond and provide higher productivity. Good marketers and merchants measure everything. Perform regular assessments, create plans, set objectives, review progress, and start again.
#3 – Control Inbound and Outbound Freight
Your primary ongoing focus should be on preventing profit erosion. Having an experienced consultant to help you is a great idea. These professionals can help you competitively bid, as well as to identify all areas where you can negotiate reductions and avoid hurting service levels at the same time.
#4 – Develop More Effective Managers
What radically affects the quality of customer order fulfillment, your employee morale and costs is your managers’ ability to manage all aspects of fulfillment efficiently. It’s all about execution, and effective managers know that. Find out about their individual needs and ways that will help them understand your merchandise better. Also, look for all available local or online training resources available that you could use to develop the skills of your warehouse managers.
#6 – Inbound Supply Chain
There are many things you can do to improve your supply chain. These changes include improving the receiving dock and yard management by scheduling inbound purchase orders. Focus on developing vendor compliance policies, on-time delivery, routing and importing guides, quality and item specifications, product labeling and packaging, and using the advantages of mobile storage solutions. Your labor for mistake rework will be reduced when you push quality services up the supply chain to the vendors, and have products ready to be shipped or put away.
#7 – Incentive Pay
Perhaps the biggest percent improvement in labor productivity can be brought on by properly engineered incentive pay for performance. Pick and pack takes more than half of your warehouse labor, so you should start there. Make sure you’re not paying for productivity you could get in other ways or are already getting.
#8 – Reduce Costs with Voice-Enabled Technology
Voice-enabled systems require no IT modification to your warehouse management system, have quick install times, have a fast ROI (4-6 months) and don’t require any extensive training. The technology is made available to different sized businesses and can be applied to all departments and processes. However, not all voice apps are created equal, so do your diligence.
Remember that a productive warehouse is a profitable warehouse. Analyze and measure, give feedback to your employees, take the advantage of the latest technology trends, reduce steps and processes, and provide necessary training to your frontline managers. After you find and focus on the problematic areas, maintaining your warehouse productivity level shouldn’t present a problem.
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