When it comes to a successful supply chain process, warehouse efficiency is a critical key to success. From design to management, an efficient warehouse can improve safety, efficiency and overall quality of a company’s supply chain. While there are many ways to streamline the warehouse-related components of an effective supply chain, we’ll briefly examine a few design and management ideas below.
Without question, meeting the highest safety and health standards must be part of the warehouse design process from the very start. Location, occupancy, function and potential dangers must all be considered, in addition to the impact of environmental issues, waste disposal, site drainage and neighboring businesses or residences.
Flooring is an important key to warehouse design. What type of floor will best match the specific demands of your warehouse? The best floor will offer the least maintenance while providing the greatest flexibility, performance and safety.
With an increasing amount of products on the market—especially Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and chemicals—cold storage has become a necessity in many warehouses. While it may not seem obvious to consider doors in warehouse design, they are a highly relevant component of warehouse efficiency. Doors are in operation constantly and each must provide the best fit for its sole purpose. Will they be used internally or externally? Is insulation required? How heavy is the traffic pattern? Do they meet safety standards?
Keeping machinery in proper running order through scheduled maintenance will save time, money and frustration over the long term. Keep all equipment, such as lifts, in good repair. Don’t neglect regularly scheduled updates and maintenance, especially in regards to machinery that will slow or even stop production if it breaks.
Carve out time to interact with and motivate employees. A short motivational boost can exponentially increase worker morale and consequently, their productivity. Be aware of factors that cause boredom and demotivation.
Encourage a healthy sense of competition among the different zones, facilities and departments by publishing metrics for everyone to see. What types of incentives and rewards can be used to increase overall productivity?
Be sure to have plenty of supplies such as carts, tape, totes, pallets and batteries on hand. Keep track of when items are low and restock regularly.
Minimize how often items are touched in your processes. Consider taking away staging areas and unload, receive and put products away with a single touch. Don’t pick and stage, but live load instead.
The efficiency of a warehouse depends on a wide and varied number of factors. From seemingly simple design issues such as climate, doors and floors to the more complex areas such as meeting safety and health regulations—smart warehouse management and a well-planned design are key for optimal supply chain results. Pay attention to your workers and keep them motivated, invested and interested. Their commitment to the warehouse will inevitably result in the higher production you’re aiming for.
Pete Kontakos is a contributor for Michigan State University’s (MSU) Online Supply Chain Management Program and other Online Certificate Programs.