When working in or running a warehouse, there is always something that needs to be improved or adjusted in order to improve efficiency. Now is the perfect time to upgrade your warehouse space and usher in new equipment and technology.
If you are looking to streamline your warehouse management process, take a look at these tips to get better results from your business.
Establish a trustworthy form of communication
Warehouses are big spaces with a lot of moving parts where communication can sometimes get lost amongst the rattle of machines and large equipment.
You and your employees must establish a trustworthy form of communication, whether that’s through a communications app like Slack or even walkie-talkies when moving around the warehouse floor.
If there isn’t solid communication between workers in a warehouse, problems can arise. Many warehouses have a lot of equipment and heavy material being moved around at all times.
If there is no established way of warning others or just letting them know that certain operations are taking place, accidents can happen.
If your warehouse is starting to feel unorganized, this is a good place to start. Have a meeting with your team and figure out which way of communication works best for all parties involved and do some run-throughs of the methods that you come up with.
Then, implement these methods of communication and see how the flow of work improves.
Make your warehouse accessible
This may not be the first thing on your mind when considering an upgrade to your warehouse space, but making your warehouse accessible in more ways than one will help improve your productivity.
One way to make your warehouse more accessible is to ensure that your loading docks are adjustable to all sized delivery trucks.
If you have the correct and updated equipment to accommodate all different types of trucks, the loading and unloading of goods and materials will go by much faster than before.
Another idea to help your warehouse become more accessible is to install ramps inside and outside wherever there are also stairs. Although warehouses are usually one level, there are areas where having a ramp would save time.
Imagine trying to use a machine to lift something heavy up and over a small set of stairs. It would take time twice as long to do than if there was a ramp present.
Not only are ramps useful for moving products, but they are also a gateway to giving access to people who have mobile disabilities.
Warehouse workers come from all types of backgrounds and installing these ramps may give employment to someone who otherwise might not be able to work.
More and more people with disabilities are being recognized in the workplace and hired for jobs in places like warehouses and factories.
It is essential to acknowledge that many different kinds of people are capable of warehouse work and warehouses in the modern age should all provide accessibility to those who need it.
A worker should never be turned away if they are capable of doing the job and the only problem is that the company does not have ramps for them to access the building.
Find a balance between man and machine
Although the urge to cut costs by replacing human workers with robots may be strong, it is just not realistic in the hectic world of warehouse management. There will always be jobs that robots just can’t do.
It is important to find a way to integrate new technology into your warehouse by training your workers to work with it as opposed to letting them all go and expecting the machines to work flawlessly.
When thinking about conveyor belt systems, producing and creating a finalized product requires the collaboration of human hands and machines.
For example, the process of making packaging for different food products requires a machine to cut specific shapes, but some machines cannot fold cardboard or paper packaging correctly. This requires a human worker who can fold and shape the product to its desired form.
In an inventory warehouse system, placing products on high shelving requires some kind of a machine because a person cannot climb a ladder with something heavy and place it up there.
The same goes for carrying extremely heavy products around a warehouse. It is much faster to use a machine to transport goods than to have a person carry it.
You can find a perfect balance by using machinery like forklifts and other wheeled vehicles that perform the task while being controlled by a human. This is one example of man and machine working together and making warehouse operations run faster.
This digitization applies to both the schedules of your employees and shipments. For employees, there are many platforms today that offer user-friendly schedules with the ability to request shifts, switch shifts with other workers, and inform workers if shifts open up.
Having digitized shipment schedules allows managers to access real-time information about changes in shipment times and helps them to inform all employees on the floor of any changes.
Instead of having hand-written reports or schedules printed out every morning, warehouse managers can invest in tablets that can be either given to employees or placed in certain areas around the warehouse so that workers can access schedules wherever they are.
Besides this being a more efficient method to keep employees in the loop about schedules, it is also cleaner and eliminates unnecessary paperwork strewn around the warehouse.
In the long run, having everything digitized on tablets and computers will save you money and time that would otherwise be wasted on paper schedules.
Automate your warehouse system
Gone are the days of outdated warehouse systems where everything was handled manually. If you want to keep up with the fast pace of product movement and delivery, you have to automate your system.
Like the digitization of schedules, making your whole warehouse system automated cuts down on costs and saves a lot of time.
Sorting and categorizing everything on a computer will make finding products so much easier as a computer can think much faster than a human brain.
To keep up with the demands of goods in the current era of instant gratification, warehouses have to find a better way to churn out quality products while maintaining order.
Nowadays, fully automated warehouses are the best way to go to accomplish the best result because they cut down labor costs, increase efficiency, and can track and store data to help you to grow and improve.
With automated machinery, fewer workers are necessary and the workers who are working machines and assembly lines make fewer mistakes because they have the assistance of the machines.
As a result, efficiency rises because there are fewer mistakes being made due to human error. Fewer mistakes mean a faster production line and more inventory being sent out to the public.
One of the greatest benefits of an automated warehouse is that the equipment and computers can save data about what is being produced or stored and can predict future needs and costs faster than could ever be done on a paper system.
Reorganize the layout of your warehouse
Sometimes, if a warehouse is struggling to keep up with demand, all it needs is a bit of reorganization. If your warehouse has been running the same way for the last ten or maybe twenty years, it may be time to consider changing the layout.
This is especially important if you are planning on integrating new machinery and equipment into your production line.
If your business is growing or you are trying to make delivery times shorter, you have to make sure that you are using your warehouse space to its maximum ability.
Reorganizing the layout of your warehouse may also include updating signage, sprucing up the facilities, and replacing old shelving.
If you are getting new technology installed in your warehouse, it is essential to label everything and create new signage. Old signage may become redundant or need to be replaced or moved to indicate where things are located in the new layout.
New signage should also be color-coded and with bold lettering so that employees will have no trouble locating equipment or product.
This will also be helpful for delivery workers who are coming and going. Bright, colorful signage that is easily spotted will help workers to find deliveries easier, thus, moving them into trucks quicker.
Spruce up the facilities
A good way to update the warehouse is to invest in the modernization of it. Adding a splash of paint, buying a new coffee machine for the workers, and updating office spaces are just a few things that can be done to make your warehouse look newer than ever.
Another way to modernize the warehouse is by adding eco-friendly features like recycling bins and adding new insulation to maintain regular temperatures throughout the seasons of the year.
Replace old shelving
If you are going to update the rest of your warehouse, make sure to test that your shelving is also up to date. The last thing you want is to get all new equipment and then your shelving and storage starts to decay.
Many companies that offer warehouse equipment also offer a wide variety of shelving units that can be constructed into different shapes depending on the new layout of your warehouse.
Choose the right equipment for your warehouse
Depending on the type of warehouse you run, your warehouse upgrade will require different kinds of equipment. If your business is more shipping-focused, you will probably want to invest more money in product transportation vehicles and machines.
If your warehouse is in charge of manufacturing perishable goods, the first thing you will want to purchase is new refrigeration systems. After that, decide what kinds of conveyor belts you need and how to allocate certain tasks to humans and to robots.
For e-commerce and order fulfillment warehouses, decide what equipment will help you to get products to customers sooner. Sorting machines, scanners, and label makers may be a good start when deciding on machinery that will improve efficiency.
Phase in new equipment
It can be quite exciting to know that your warehouse is becoming modernized, but moving too fast can be detrimental to the business.
If you plan on continuing full operations while you update your warehouse space, it is impossible to change everything all at once. The best way to start this streamlining process is to install one thing at a time.
The first thing to be implemented should be the digitization of operations and schedules. This will make life easier for you and your workers as you transition to a more modern warehouse.
If you plan on installing new conveyor belts and robots in your warehouse, do so in phases so that you don’t have to shut down the whole operation at once.
If you are planning on purchasing new warehouse vehicles like forklifts, make sure to only buy one at a time, train your workers on how to use it, and then implement more into the warehouse environment.
Take the time to train your workers
None of this new technology is going to work for you if you do not teach your warehouse workers how to use it. Some workers may have been using the same technology for their entire careers, so it may take some time to adapt to all of the new equipment.
Correct and in-depth training will help to minimize work-related injuries and damage to new equipment. A proper training course for all workers who are going to be handling new equipment is essential for the success of your warehouse business.
The process of transforming your warehouse space to adapt to modern standards is a large undertaking. There is a lot to consider and a lot to plan, but these tips are a good stepping stone toward this monumental task.
Once you have an idea of what you want to do to improve your warehouse management, the next step is to start implementing your plans. When you accomplish your goals in your warehouse, you are sure to start seeing business growth and better results.