A lack of organization in a warehouse can be detrimental to productivity. Increased travel times, difficult locating products, and work areas that aren’t clearly defined all lead to a work space that is tricky to navigate and not reaching its full potential. An organized warehouse cultivates an environment that allows for an efficient and logical workflow for all of your employees. If you are looking to maximize the potential of your warehouse, follow these tips to implement an organization structure that yields the most productive results in your warehouse.
1. Start with Safety
As you begin organizing your warehouse, approach the process with safety at the front of your mind. Keeping the environment as safe as possible on a consistent basis will help minimize any unwanted obstacles in day to day operations.
Assess your warehouse space and see if any adjustments can be made to make it safer. Cords may need to be taped down or covered. Aisles should be free of clutter to make walking paths clear. Movement paths for forklifts should be outlined on the ground. The entire area should be well lit to ensure the surroundings are fully visible. Any small safety adjustments you make now will help you avoid larger issues that stall productivity in the future.
2. Evaluate Your Floor Plan
Your floor plan may need to be adjusted to allow for the most efficient work flow. While a certain layout may have worked well for you a year ago, changes in product demands and production needs may warrant adjustments in the floor plan.
The floor plan should maximize all space that is available and create as much work space as possible, while also allowing easy access to equipment, shelves, tools, work benches, and products. Objects or storage furniture should never obstruct paths or workspaces, as it will hinder productivity by slowing down the workflow.
Most importantly, the floor plan needs to make logical sense for the daily routine of your employees. Walk yourself through the daily process that your employees go through, and note any obstacles that may hinder productivity, such as a a long travel path from inventory to the packing area. Ensure the physical layout of the warehouse allows for a workflow that is as efficient and logical as possible.
3. Target Your Most Popular Products
As you start to reorganize the storage of products on the floor, you should identify the most popular items that make up for the majority of movement in your warehouse. You can apply the ABC Analysis, which is based on the Pareto principle. The principle states that 80% of product movement in a warehouse comes from 20% of the inventory. This system puts inventory into 3 categories:
Category A: Best-selling inventory that is moved most frequently. This will comprise of 20% of your stock, responsible for 80% of movement. These items should be placed in the most accessible spot possible, likely near the packing area to reduce travel time.
Category B: The items that sell less frequently than the Category A items. This will comprise of 30% of your stock, responsible for 15% of movement. These items can be placed in the second most accessible spots.
Category C: The remaining less popular items. This will comprise of the remaining 50% of your stock, responsible for 5% of movement. These items will be placed deeper in the warehouse, allowing for better access of the items in Categories A and B.
4. Group Together Similar Items
In addition to applying the ABC Analysis, you will want to identify items that are commonly shipped together, and then coordinate so that they are stored in the same area. By doing this, you will create an easier and more efficient picking routine. As a result, this will cut down on travel time throughout the warehouse.
5. Create Clear Labels
A well-organized warehouse is ineffectual if it isn’t easy to identify the stock, storage, and work areas. In order to develop an inventory system that is easy to navigate, create clear labels for aisles, product groups, and stock. This labelling system should be consistent throughout the warehouse, so that employees can become accustomed to a certain style and move around the space more productively.
6. Utilize an Inventory Management Program
A highly organized workflow includes use of an inventory management program that will track the movement of any and all items in the warehouse. The most efficient inventory management program will use barcodes or RFID tags on the labels of stock to track the movement of these items, as well as store information about them. Keeping track of inventory on the floor helps avoid any confusion or any issues that may arise with missing or misplaced items, and reduces mistakes from human error.
7. Coordinate and Create Space for Loading and Unloading
Ensure you create ample space for unloading and loading trucks, and sorting through incoming inventory. The schedule for delivery, unloading, and loading departing trucks should be carefully and intentionally coordinated. Schedule the arrival of trucks so that you don’t have an excess of vehicles waiting for available docks. When trucks are arriving for both unloading and loading, ensure you have properly planned to have enough hands on deck during this time, so that the process can move as swiftly as possible. As employees are sorting through inventory, they should be instructed to identify any damaged inventory immediately to avoid storing unusable products.
8. Consistently Inspect Storage Areas
You shouldn’t abandon the warehouse once it has been reorganized. In order to get ahead of problems, plan for regular inspections and maintenance of the storage area to make sure everything is running as it should be. Ensure labels are clear, and that labels on inventory are facing in the correct direction. Check for any safety hazards, such as damaged palettes, unclear movement paths, or lights that are out. Make records of any inventory that is damaged, and ensure you quickly take the necessary steps for discarding or repairing. Taking these proactive steps will keep things running efficiently and help you avoid a bigger headache further down the road.
9. Regularly Communicate with Staff
Your employees are well-acquainted with the everyday operations of the warehouse, so communicate with them to discuss any concerns related to safety, productivity, product damage or availability, or other matters. Creating a clear communication channel with the staff will help them feel more inclined to report issues or make suggestions. Reviewing new ideas from the staff may help you implement even more changes to create a well-operating warehouse.
10. Train Employees
All the changes you implement will only be effective if your employees are properly trained in the new safety measures and operating procedures. Ensure employees are aware of the new organization system and the reasoning behind it. Make sure they understand the labels and the necessary information that should be included on them. Train them on what to do with damaged items, and how to clearly track stock with the inventory management program you use. Create a culture in which employees are welcome to come to you with questions or needs for assistance in further training, and you’ll be on track to cultivating a warehouse that is as productive as possible.