4 Easy Ways to Improve Warehouse Efficiency
Regardless of how well your warehouse functions, you can always improve your facility’s efficiency. Several areas will need your attention. Consider your workers’ productivity, facility operations, warehouse costs and distribution costs to create a thorough strategy for cutting waste and increasing efficiency. Assessing and bettering these areas of concern will maximize the return on your investment in your warehouse’s operations.
Table of Contents
1. How to Improve Warehouse Productivity
Look at the jobs your workers do in your facility. Could they make changes to increase their productivity? You need to both make it easier for your employees to work smarter and incentivize them to take those steps themselves.
Reduce Time Waste in Your Facility
When you want your workers to increase their productivity, make it easier for them to do so. Several ways you change productivity levels overlap with ways to improve your operations. If you have not done anything to make your employees’ jobs more manageable, you cannot expect them to increase their labor output for incentives.
Some ways to cut time waste include arranging your warehouse so workers don’t have to travel as far to pick the right products and deliver them to the loading area. Steps workers take add up over a day to reduce their productivity.
- Place items strategically: Place items you use more often in easy-to-access shelves or racks closer to the dock. Keep rarely shipped products in less accessible spots.
- Use cross docking: Every product that comes to your dock does not need to go into storage. Cross-docking allows you to quickly send out goods that have recently arrived. You will save labor and money by opting for this latest in warehouse improvement techniques.
- Get employee feedback: Ask your workers where they see areas for improvement in your facility. Use the information to discover how you can change your facility to make their jobs more efficient.
- Improve safety: Safe workers won’t need time off for work-related injuries. Additionally, you may improve loyalty and productivity through increasing safety in your workplace.
- Organize workstations: Keep tools workers need clearly labeled in well-organized workstations. Have an employee regularly inspect any tools used for signs of wear. Remove items that need repairs until they get fixed. Providing your employees with quality tools enables them to grab a machine, such as a scanner, and know it will work. You will save time and frustration by preventing workers from needing to return to workstations for replacement tools.
- Train managers: Improve manager training to help workers increase productivity and help you find areas of your warehouse that need improvement.
Incentivize Your Workers
It’s likely that half of your employees have direct control over the picking and packing operations. Incentivize these workers with bonuses for reaching production levels to give them goals to work towards. With strategically created monetary rewards for performance increases, you can raise your workers’ productivity.
2. How to Improve Warehouse Operations
Improving operations in your warehouse involves more than reducing the wasted time that eats into productivity. For activities, you need to focus on maintaining your inventory and keeping track of it to your best ability. Knowing where you store products in your warehouse makes it easier for your workers to pull them when needed. By tracking inventory, you can also prevent efficiency-robbing loss from theft or damaged goods.
Use Technology to Track Inventory
Tracking products by hand takes too much time and effort for it to be an option in a modern warehouse. Technological advances such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and barcodes are ways you can identify and monitor your products throughout a warehouse. RFID helps you track your inventory from the time it enters your facility until it leaves. One of these tags contains more information more securely than barcodes. Additionally, the radio aspect of RFID tags can actively broadcast that information or require a reader.
Barcodes also save time and improve accuracy by reducing the effort workers need to identify the required product. Compared to RFID technology, barcodes cost less to invest in and take up less space on the package. Though many companies are upgrading to RFID technology, barcodes continue to provide warehouses with a cheaper means of inventory tracking for the present.
Take Advantage of Warehouse Management Systems
While scanners gather information about products in your warehouse, that information gets stored and used by your warehouse management system (WMS). Using a WMS software can help you plan layout, workflow and more to increase efficiency in ways you never thought possible with manual observations and calculations.
Warehouse management systems can create the most efficient means of picking inventory. The system can even relay lists directing workers to the fastest route to select products for an order. Depending on the software features, you may also have product tracking that facilitates inventory management, which can help you reduce loss when coupled with scanning technology. These are only a few of the ways WMS can help tighten your operations. With this software, you can recover lost time and improve your facility.
3. How to Reduce Warehouse Costs
The cost of running your facility includes labor and operations. Reducing lost time and productivity on the operations side are two ways to cut your storage costs. However, you have other ways to make running your warehouse cheaper.
Improve Energy Efficiency
If you have not evaluated the energy use of your facility and sought ways to reduce it, you are missing one of the prime ways to lower your warehouse’s costs. Use natural lighting whenever possible. The light will reduce your reliance on electricity while also drawing the sun’s warmth into your warehouse during the cold of winter, cutting your heating costs. Consider motion-sensitive lighting that automatically shut off when the room empties. These light controls can reduce the electricity needed to keep empty rooms lit.
Another area your facility can improve in is heating and cooling costs. Proper insulation is the key to regulating the temperature inside the facility. Summer heat and winter cold feel less uncomfortable for your workers when they have a thick insulation barrier between them and the elements. Keeping docking bays set apart from the rest of your warehouse can also reduce the impact open bay doors will have on the comfort of those working inside.
The electrical motors used in your facility draw a large amount of energy — up to 65 percent of your facility’s electricity use goes toward industrial engines. Gear reducers help your motors operate at a similar efficiency with less power. If you need to upgrade any equipment, opt for the most energy-efficient devices you can afford. Any extra cost will be offset by the energy savings you will see over time.
Cut Labor Costs Without Downsizing Your Workforce
As workers reduce their time on the floor, use the downtime they increasingly have by cross-training other workers. Having a workforce with a diverse set of skills will make it easier to find a substitute should an employee get sick. You will also have a trained group to increase your workforce in one area of the warehouse during high-demand times. For example, during the holiday shipping season, you can pull workers from other parts of your facility to help with picking products. You will save money by not having to hire and train seasonal employees. You will also make your workers more valuable and increase their loyalty to your business.
Lift trucks and other equipment your workers use in the warehouse need regular maintenance. A breakdown during use wastes time and costs money in repairs. Create a rotating schedule to pull machines out for routine maintenance. Doing so will ensure you always have trustworthy equipment available for your workers when they need it. With regular maintenance, you also will save the cost of calling for emergency repairs or replacing a piece of equipment.
Choose Used Storage
Compared to purchasing new storage containers, used, refurbished or reclaimed options could save you 40 percent. Boxes and bags are not the only things you can save money on by choosing second-hand. Pallets, bins, boxes, shelf liners and more are available from a variety of places as high-quality, previously owned parts. You save money on the cost of these storage options for your warehouse while organizing your facility for the better.
4. How to Reduce Distribution Costs
Distribution costs involve how much time, effort and money you spend getting products in and out of your warehouse. Delivery cost only comprises one element of the total distribution cost. The value of what you ship, losses from product expiration or improper storage and your facility’s operating costs also factor into distribution costs. To reduce costs for shipping, you need to see how you can improve your costs in all aspects of distribution.
The more expensive the products you ship, the higher distribution costs you may have for increased insurance coverage and extra care for handling. Do not compromise these areas. Instead, focus on protecting valuable shipments from damage or loss.
Loss From Expiration or Improper Storage
Depending on what you store and ship, you may have products on the dock with strict temperature ranges for storage. Keep such products within this range, regardless of outside conditions. If delays on the shipping dock occur, find a way to cool the products. For a better long-term solution, have a refrigerator or freezer storage area near the loading dock to store temperature-sensitive products. Doing so can prevent product loss.
Also, track your inventory carefully to prevent theft, which can occur at any point in the supply chain. If needed, increase security in your warehouse. Install alarm systems to alert the local authorities in case of a break-in. Check the amount of insurance you carry to cover theft or other product loss. In cases of theft, always report the incident to police because you may need the police report to file an insurance claim.
When shipping, always choose methods that will get the products to their destinations well before they expire. This time may range from just a few days for fresh produce to years for consumer goods like home furnishings.
Land and sea transport may cost less than faster air travel. Check with the shippers to compare prices, as they can vary. The time each delivery method takes is also critical in saving money and protecting products. While longer shipping times may cost less, if the extended time causes inventory to expire, it will not be worth the cost savings.
To lower shipping costs, never let an empty truck leave your facility. Fill trucks that unload inventory with friendly products to make the most of your shipping. Keep your loading dock fully staffed with enough employees to continually move goods on and off trucks throughout the day. Also, maximize the number of products sent out by cutting on storage packaging size with reusable bags. Bags conform to the shape of what’s inside, reducing the space required for shipping the goods. With less space for bagged products, you can fit more inventory into a truck, cutting your costs by lowering the number of trips.
How Our Bags Can Be Part of Your Warehouse Improvement Plan
These warehouse ideas for improvement may require some major changes to your facility. You need to know where your operations stand in terms of your expectations. Identify any areas where you can cost cuts and reduce the time your workers spend on tasks. These areas are where you will start when you craft your facility’s improvement plan.
Ways to increase your efficiency include making the most of the space you have and on your storage expenses. Every square inch of your warehouse costs money and saving space will increase your profits. Unlike boxes, bulk storage bags conform to the size of the products inside. This package shaping reduces the required amount of space for goods in bags. For every inch of space in your warehouse you save, you will add it to available space for other products, boosting your efficiency and profits.
At Bulk Bag Reclamation, we have tough bags that cost less and require less space than new boxes or other larger containers. We check our bags multiple times for defects and only sell you the highest quality reclaimed storage bags. You get robust storage containers you can trust to hold bulk items you keep in your warehouse. Since you enjoy durability at a lower price, you won’t sacrifice storage quality for cost savings. By lowering the rates you pay for your storage bags, you can also improve your facility’s profits.
Contact Bulk Bag Reclamation
Take the first step toward making your warehouse more efficient by choosing a more economical, space-saving storage option for your products. At Bulk Bag Reclamation, we can give you a quote for the types of bags you need. If you still have a question about our products or company before requesting your quote, feel free to contact us. Thanks to our innovative service, we can help you save money while you boost your warehouse efficiency. Check out our product line to get inspired for how you can improve operations in your facility.