Better organised warehouses tend to have a whole host of benefits, but not that many people understand the best way to order their space. So, here are 10 tips to help out.
1) Follow Seasonal Order Shifts
The most frequently-used SKUs in your warehouse tend to change over time. Slot your warehouse as best suits your business model and review your layout regularly. You want to keep your primary SKUs stored in the right location and the right media so that order pickers can get at them efficiently. Make sure you have a WMS (warehouse management system) that’s set up to accommodate dynamic slotting.
2) Use Intelligent Software For Order Sequencing
You need WMS software that adapts to a range of different challenges and helps you to produce efficient workflows. Orders should be sequenced according to pick paths, but you also need to take into account special situations, such as same-zone orders, single lines, and non-conveyable SKUs. The right software tools can handle a lot of this for you automatically, making everyone on the floor more efficient.
3) Pick Smarter, Not Harder
Your ideal default picking methodology is going to depend on your overall organization. Maybe it’s single order, multi-order, zone picking, or batch picking. Nailing down the most efficient method is the key to making your operation more productive. Don’t be afraid to reach for alternate methodologies to accommodate special circumstances, though!
4) Try The Warehouse-In-A-Warehouse Strategy
This is a tried-and-true strategy for improving efficiency. Cluster the 20 percent of your stock that ends up going into 80 percent of your orders so that your pickers’ travel time is minimized. Just bear in mind that your zone set up for 80-20 operations is going to see some heavy traffic.
Make sure your orders actually fit the 80-20 mold before trying this organizational tactic. With “Long Tail” operations becoming ever more popular, the flow of material out of your warehouse just might not match up to the traditional “many of the few” order composition.
5) Get The Most Out Of Your Equipment
You can strike a great balance between picker speed and storage density by using your storage slots wisely. Low-cube items that move slowly are well-suited to bin shelving while fast movers work better in a carton or pallet flow. You’ll get more efficient use out of the DC’s cube this way. Seasonal fluctuations and promotional events can change up the movement rates of your items, though, so stay flexible.
6) Use The Wheelhouse Concept
Regardless of the type of storage media you use, you’ll have some areas that are simply more accessible than others. The waist-to-shoulder zone is commonly called the “wheelhouse.” You should always site your fast-moving items in this zone so that your pickers can work faster and more comfortably.
7) Explore Automation Options
Nearly two thirds of a picker’s day is devoted to shifting or walking product around the warehouse. Look for opportunities to cut down on picker travel time by introducing automated solutions like conveyance. Innovative solutions like multi-level pick towers can also cut down on travel.
8) Minimize Your Shipping Options
Don’t stock any more box sizes than you have to. You should be able to manage just fine with two or three standard sizes and a few customs. This makes order assembly easier and makes your whole shipping supply chain more efficient.
9) Take Advantage Of Technology
There are plenty of technological solutions to make your operation more efficient: bar codes, RF tracking, voice activation, better shelving solutions and so on. The right innovation can dramatically improve your accuracy and productivity; study what’s available to you and use the most effective tools.
10) Incentivize Your Pickers
A solid incentive program will ensure that your pickers work hard. This is only a valid motivational tool if you measure productivity in a fair and accurate way, though. Pick a clear KPI (key performance indicator) to judge and reward productivity.