As an aspiring business owner, you dream of your brand growing. Being able to anticipate demand and preparing stock is all part of the trade. But a warehouse optimization can be downright overwhelming.
But you’ll be surprised to learn that 43 percent of small businesses either don’t track inventory or simply use manual processes. And 34 percent of companies are prone to late shipments because products which aren’t in stock were actually sold to customers. That’s sure to bring negative reviews and harm a brand’s online image.
If you’re nodding your head, don’t feel depressed or embarrassed. You already know that managing a business without adequate, efficient warehousing services is chaotic. But there are several ways to improve your current situation.
All you need to do is focus on how to optimize warehouse operations
Warehouse optimization consists of processes that you can implement to improve your warehouse’s space and resources drastically. Moreover, by embracing appropriate technological solutions, automating tasks, and careful planning, your business will become more efficient. And as you leverage warehousing operations, you’ll be able to enhance customer satisfaction and experience.
Warehouse optimization is within your grasp
Here is a list of warehouse optimization solutions that can help you address common problems that warehouse owners have.
1. Design an efficient layout
Every warehouse has unique warehousing needs. Create a floor plan that meets yours. But remember to leave enough margin to support growth.
A good warehouse plan has an efficient layout that combines operations along with storage. Moreover, it’s symbolized by smooth traffic flows within and outside the facility. Warehouse space optimization techniques include leaving enough aisle width to facilitate movement, positioning items according to demand, right-sizing the slots, positioning of docking doors, etc.
2. Utilize a warehouse labeling system
By marking and labeling the aisles and racks, it will be easier to recognize where products need to be placed. Ensure that labels are legible from a distance.
But with a modern warehouse management software, you can assign barcodes for each rack, column, and row. A scanner can be used to identify where shipments are stowed.
3. Optimize the use of available space
You might be able to take advantage of the clear span height. Vertical racking is one of the easiest techniques for warehouse space optimization. Assess how much cubic feet of vertical space is available. You must leave adequate gaps between beams to allow forklifts to operate smoothly. More importantly, the design should not obstruct sprinkler design or violate the local fire code.
4. Standardize operations
Adopt standard procedures for all warehouse operations, whether for loading, unloading, routing, storing, shift scheduling, accounts, facilities management, etc. This will help save time and optimize workflows.
5. Automate inventory and routing
Running a business is all about keeping customers happy. And that entails making deliveries on time. Automating tasks can help speed up processes, streamline operations, reduce the chances of human error, and boost your warehouse optimization efforts. With the right technology overseeing inventory and delivery operations, you’ll be able to make sense of it all.
For example, order routing automation can ensure that packages go to the right collections area faster by. And automating the stowing and picking process can keep everything organized and prevent it from being misplaced. Above all, establishing par levels and doing inventory analysis can help eliminate excess stock from building up or investing in items that don’t sell as fast.
6. Invest in the right warehouse management software (WMS)
Depending on your budget, you may need to make smart technology investments. An end-to-end mobile WMS can make managing your warehouse a breeze. Choosing a comprehensive software can facilitate various aspects of your business, from warehousing and inventory management to route planning and distribution, and beyond. Using integrated solutions will allow all activities to be managed seamlessly from one unified platform.
7. Storage systems
Good warehouse planning means analyzing the physical requirements of the products and the storage system of your warehouse. Bulky, heavy, or irregularly shaped items need to be handled and stored carefully to avoid being damaged. On the other hand, store frequently-picked items or essential products inaccessible locations to reduce travel time and improve efficiency.
Devise storage systems that allow employees to practice FIFO (first in, first out). Moreover, to avoid storage congestion, do not go beyond 85% occupancy.
8. Understand product velocity
Effective warehouse design and layout facilitates the retrieval, storage, and shipping of fast-moving or high-demand products. Therefore, you need to understand the product velocity of the items in your warehouse. This can be looking at the rate at which they sell.
Items with a high velocity should be stored in easily accessible racks or close to the packing area to reduce travel time and speed up operations. Consider relocating products that have only a seasonal demand onto higher shelves.
9. Welcome robotic technology
Emerging trends and innovations are giving way to boundless technological advancements. Gone are the days when forklifts and robotic arms were the only technologies seen in warehouses. Currently, indoor navigation technology is transitioning from automated to autonomous. It’s the era of autonomous carts and drones.
Research finds that the market for mobile robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles in warehousing and delivery may reach a staggering $81 billion by 2030. While the cost of these technologically advanced machines is higher, ROIs can be seen close to a year.
Warehouse optimization takes meticulous planning. So don’t expect to get results overnight. Bringing your warehouse and the internal operations to the next level can take time.
To smoothen out the onboarding process, make sure to discuss plans with your employees, and gather their feedback. Clearly communicating the benefits of why you need to adopt the latest technologies and techniques. More importantly, provide free training sessions so that employees can utilize new machinery, software, or tools effectively.
But you’re done yet. You need to re-evaluate your optimization plans regularly in order to assess whether the new processes are being implemented appropriately. This will also provide opportunities for you to make adjustments if needed.
It seems like you’re all set. Are you ready to take your warehouse to the next level?