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Apply these 6 tips to improve the productivity and efficiency of your warehouse

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When all goes well, the processes and functions of the warehouse are very little taken into account. When there is friction, it forces you to reassess what is happening from the bottom up. Sometimes it's a good thing because it can focus your priorities and help you focus on some things that really matter – like productivity and efficiency.



Why the efficiency of the warehouse is important

No business owner or manager will argue against criticizing the fact that the efficiency of the warehouse is important, but few take the time to really understand why productivity at this stage of the Supply chain is important.

A productive warehouse looks a lot like an efficient AC system in a home. When the system is working properly and the cold air is blowing in the middle of the summer, you are comfortable and, therefore, do not focus on the wonderful technology that compresses, cools and forces the air in your house through a complex labyrinth of vents, ducts, and machinery. When the cold air stops coming out and freshening the house, you immediately notice how important and sophisticated this whole technology is. You also realize how much you took for granted.

When your warehouse clicks on all the cylinders, you do not spend a lot of energy thinking about its operation and about the different moving parts that work in unison to achieve specific exit objectives. But when these goals are not achieved, the significance of a productive warehouse quickly becomes evident.

Immediately, the inefficiencies of the warehouses are revealed in the form of bottlenecks. Depending on the stage of the supply chain that you use, as well as the industry in which your company operates, this could result in a lack of product, the inability to provide correct parts, excessive accumulation of materials and / or manpower problems. .

A warehouse that does not reach its potential can be expensive. There may be an increase in the cost of overtime for employees, frequent breakdowns and machine repairs, slower delivery times, and any number of other problems.

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Eventually, all of these internal problems move up the supply chain and begin to affect the areas of the business that are facing the customers. When the products are delivered late or do not meet the expectations of consistency and quality, the customer experience decreases. And it is at this point that the inefficiencies of the warehouse become very expensive. Once customers feel that something is wrong, you are on the verge of disaster.

But just like a broken AC system, an inefficient warehouse can be repaired. The first step is to notice that something is wrong. The second step is to move quickly and take action to address the underlying causes (rather than mask the symptoms). That's how you regain control.

6 Tips for Increasing Warehouse Production

There are not two identical companies. Even two competitors in the same industry have their own methods of doing things. That being said, the principles remain the same. To have a productive and efficient warehouse, you have to have the basics.

Here are some tips to keep you on track:

1. Ensuring a good location

The best warehouses are practical. "These warehouses are built in certain locations to ensure that products are stored efficiently in the intended environment, at the consumer's fingertips, transported with the lowest available rate, and adhere to government and national policies Says Mach 1 Global. "Local conditions also affect warehouse locations, including the cost of labor, land and buildings, IT infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and taxes."

You may not have the resources or capabilities to build your own warehouse where you want it, but there are ways to make sure you rent or buy in a convenient area that makes your home easier. supply chain.

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2. Use the right equipment

It is also important to use the right equipment in your warehouse. Although it may cost more to the front so that everything is perfect, it is much easier to operate with maximum efficiency when you do not try to insert a square dowel in a round hole.

"For many of our customers, the right loading dock equipment can actually improve or reduce their efficiency in the warehouse," says Justin White of Mid-Atlantic Door Group, Inc., a company specializing in 39 installation of commercial garage doors and repairs. "From dock levelers and scissor lifts to vehicle restraints and dock seals, success is in the details. Any restraint here can have an impact on efficiency further down the supply chain. "

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3. Prioritize the organization and systems

A fluid and efficient warehouse production is synonymous with consistency and repeatability. The more you can reduce a process into a series of easy-to-follow steps, the more likely you are to get a predictable result.

The systematic organization is also crucial. The warehouse should be arranged in a logical way. The most commonly performed processes should also be the most practical. Not only does this increase speed and reliability, it also reduces employee frustration and unnecessary friction.

4. Investing in quality people

Assuming you do all that is necessary from a strategic point of view to establish the right processes and provide the best equipment, the efficiency of the warehouse goes back to the people who each perform small and big steps.

Invest in quality people, and they will even run the worst systems. Invest in low quality talent and they will fail the best systems. You get what you put, and you absolutely have to have quality people working in the warehouse.

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A quality warehouse employee is not just someone who knows what he's doing from a technical point of view. You also want people with integrity, motivation and high aspirations. These are the people who improve your business.

5. Focus on training

Hiring quality people is only the beginning. To keep them on track and help them grow, you need to focus on training. Training sessions should be organized regularly in 45 to 60 minute increments. They should be hosted by direct supervisors whenever possible and take on a more conversational tone than that of a conference.

"Ask employees for feedback – those who do the day-to-day work often have a good idea of ​​the barriers within the process and how to overcome them," advises Tom Stretar, senior director of enVista. "Maybe someone already uses a tactic to be more resourceful that can be shared with the team as a whole and implemented throughout the company."

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When training is perceived as a practical method to improve, rather than as a box that human resources have to check, employees are much more likely to be engaged. Make it interesting!

6. Track and analyze metrics

You can only maximize productivity if you know what's happening on the ground floor. So what methods do you use to determine efficiency and production? You must track and analyze the statistics.

"Key indicators may vary by company, but they need to be quickly and easily measurable," says Hannah Lincoln, Senior Consultant at Itas. "For example, if you spend a week trying to extract data from these metrics, it's not really useful – you have to either look at your systems or take different measures. parameters. "

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Lincoln uses the example of productivity. It is not enough to say that you follow productivity. You have to divide this into two or three tangible measures that can be measured and analyzed to show you how things are going.

Evaluating Where Things Stand

If you're reading this and you're not sure about the productivity and efficiency of your warehouse, now is the time to sit down with your team and do a careful assessment the way you work. areas. By being proactive, you can get ahead of these issues and avoid many supply chain issues that frequently plague troubled organizations.

Photo via Shutterstock


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