Running a well-organized and efficient warehouse can be much more complex than it’s given credit for. While some may first think that these buildings have the simple task of storing materials before their export or distribution for sale, a proficient warehouse system is way more multifaceted than that.
Warehousing is a process that involves scientific methods to handle goods and cargo, and make them conveniently available whenever they are needed for shipment. In today’s consumer environment, running a well-organized warehouse is probably the most important aspect of trade. Check out the top 15 characteristics of an efficient warehouse, below.
1. Training Staff
Not only does having a properly trained team increase safety in a potentially hazardous work atmosphere, but it improves efficiency and makes your job as management much easier. Train your staff members early so that the operations of the warehouse run smoothly and in the correct way. While most employees are able to stock shelves, not every employee will be able to follow correct protocol. Correct behavior as soon as it occurs so as not to allow improper handling to become the norm on the floor.
Warehouses often combine heavy machinery with large product, slippery floors, and fast import and export times. With all of this in mind, safety of the staff needs to be your first priority. A thorough safety training should be in place, and each new member of staff should be tested on their knowledge of safety protocol after attending training.
Warehouses are often used to store a lot of expensive products and thus are a popular target for thieves. A well-equipped warehouse should have tight round the clock security to minimize theft. Consider installing surveillance cameras to cover all areas of your warehouse, both inside and out. Safety of products need to be a priority.
4. Market Proximity
Your warehouse should be located in an area that is well-connected and easily accessible. Proper transport and communication lines including highways, railway stations, airports, and seaports will be necessary for your goods to be loaded and unloaded with ease. This is not only easier on your staff, but promotes the business operations of the warehouse.
5. Parking and Space Surrounding the Building
Wherever you set up your warehouse, it’s vital to have a good amount of space surrounding the building for parking. This is necessary to facilitate the efficient loading and unloading of product.
6. Storage Space
This point needs to be carefully considered. In order for you to run a successful warehouse, it’s essential that you have enough space inside the building to keep all of your goods in proper order without clutter. Not only will this improve organization, but will promote the effective movement of goods.
7. Mechanical Appliances
In order to have a smoothly running warehouse, the right machinery is required. This not only minimizes handling costs but helps in dealing with large or bulky loads.
If your warehouse stores extremely large and heavy items, your racking system will need to be designed to handle that. If you store cold food, your refrigeration system will need to be prioritized so product is not susceptible to going bad. Whatever the product is that your warehouse stores, make sure the warehouse is designed with this in mind.
9. Emergency Protocol
Your warehouse will need to prepare for the possibility of an accident or other emergency and be ready at all times. Whether this is a fire, flood, mechanical accident, or any other disaster that may occur, take time to create a plan that will be effective and safe.
Organization is key if you want incoming product going to the appropriate locations, and your pickers to later be able to find that product in a timely manner. Establish a system that organizes your materials in a defined order that makes the most sense for your process.
Do not organize simply to organize – think logically about the location the various products will be placed in. The fastest moving items should be front and center, products which are normally ordered together should be placed in the same aisle, and so on.
11. Receiving Process
Materials should always be verified and inspected immediately after arriving at your warehouse. Staff should be trained to note any shortages or damaged product at the time it’s received. Making sure the product is moved to the correct storage space right away is also crucial in the receiving process. When materials are left in the receiving area, they may show in your system as available, but pickers will not be able to find them on your shelves.
12. Picking Process
The time spent picking orders can make or break an efficient warehouse. If organized correctly, you can develop a pick list to save on time and resources.
If you normally ship a small number of orders with large quantities of products, arrange the lists so the picker can work from one material location to the next and avoid the constant back-and-forth process. If you ship many small orders, create pick lists in groups and then divide the materials by customer order when it reaches the verification stage.
13. Quality Control
As soon as a product arrives at the shipping station, it must be verified before being packed and processed. Packers do not have the time to double-check each item, so it’s vital to identify problems right away so that the products can be returned to the appropriate location immediately. Never allow a large section of incorrect products to pile up – this will only create a cluttered space and could create shortages on the next orders being processed.
14. The Right Software
There are countless software choices to choose from with regards to material handling and warehouse management. Programs are normally used for inventory control, labor, equipment maintenance, shipping, and more. Do your research, and choose a program that provides the right solutions for your company’s needs.
15. Prompt Delivery and Customer Service
It’s important both for the efficiency of your warehouse and for customer satisfaction that you use a shipment-tracking program. You will want to know where your products are at all times, and your customers will as well. Being able to provide them with real time stats will only improve the customer service you offer.
While warehouses may differ in the products they store and the processes they use, every warehouse can benefit from using these tips in order to improve efficiency, safety, and customer satisfaction. Remember to continue improving your processes through trial and error, and reevaluate and reorganize as often as needed.