Keeping your warehouse operations procedures organized can help you to operate efficiently. However, without a plan on how to optimize your layout so that you can maximize efficiency, your efforts may be for naught. While there is no magic, "one size fits all" solution, there are a few warehouse operations best practices that can work to maximize operational efficiency within your warehouse.
Here are a few tips to get you started on improving your warehouse efficiency:
1. Move the Shipping Line Closer
Missing the delivery truck can hamper your customer's experience if they end up receiving their orders late. One of the reasons this can occur is because your shipping line may be too far away from where you pick and pack your orders.
If you reduce the distance between the areas that these tasks occur, you can reduce "transportation" time on every package, which over a day will definitely add up. This time savings means more, if not all, of the days shipments will be handed over to the carrier(s). Read more on how to reduce shipping bottlenecks.
2. Implement Automation
Rather than having to physically move items across the warehouse every time with a forklift, palette, or by hand, consider automating the process. This can be accomplished by creating a conveyor that runs across the warehouse.
For example, instead of packing an order and then manually transporting to the shipping area, design a conveyor system to place packed items on, which automatically take the items to the shipping area, saving time.
3. Consolidate Functions
Instead of packing and shipping items separately, you can consolidate these functions by packing and shipping simultaneously. For example, instead of having multiple people packing items, placing an internal barcode on the box and then rescanning the package at the ship station or to actually ship it, you can combine these functions so that the same person can do both tasks at the same time.
This allows you to better utilize your workforce, requiring less shipping staff and equipment to handle the same volume.
4. Improve Your Batching and Waiting Process
Create an area that can bring your packaging to a central point and handle similar orders together, rather than trying to handle each individually. So, instead of packing an item every time an order is processed, you can process a batch of orders and then prep the items for those orders on the line for packers to box up.
For instance, if you have 100 orders of a promotional item going out today, you can batch process a hundred orders, so that the labels are produced ahead of time. Those labels can then be taken over to an area where the 100 promotional items have already been gathered, apply the labels to the proper packaging, and pack all 100 orders together. At that point, the order is ready to be handed over to the carrier.
Sometimes, maximizing the efficiency of your warehouse operations only requires physically rearranging processing areas so they are closer to one another. By doing so, you can reduce the time that's needed to get packing and shipping tasks completed. You want also to avoid spreading all of your processes throughout your warehouse.
Even if you have a large space that you want to grow into, it's important to be purposeful in your choices and start on one side of your warehouse, working your way to the other, to better optimize efficiency in your warehouse operations.