Warehousing and storage can be a very complex operation, but there are ways in which you can improve the operation of your warehouse, which result in increased customer satisfaction and reduced overheads.
One of the warehouse solutions which many people donít seem to take into consideration is making maximum use of the vertical space. The more that you can get into each square foot of floor space, the further your rent goes. It might require an additional investment in equipment, but increases the efficiency of picking and packing, reduces travel time, and therefore reduces operational costs and inventory carrying costs.
Another one of the key warehouse solutions is using standardised bins. When you use standardised bins, it simplifies the process of order fulfilment, making it easier to store and find materials. It also has the added benefit of giving the warehouse a neater and tidier appearance. In addition, it reduces the amount of material handling equipment that you need and as a result does away with wasted time while pickers search for the right equipment, because they are only going to need the same equipment each time. Using bin locations ensures that pallets and bins are carefully placed on the correct location and reduces the amount of time spent looking for lost or missing items.
You should use barcodes, RFID, NFC, or similar, so that you always have accurate on-hand counts and locations. Barcode equipment isnít expensive, because you can even use a mobile phone. When you have RFID or NFC transponders in pallets, boxes, and shelves, you can monitor the flow of goods all the way from receipt to shipment.
Compared with conventional methods, all your documentation is there, and seamlessly supported by a secure database connection. You donít need any visual contact, so you donít have to go hunting for labels any more. Whatís more, any dirt doesnít affect scanning and you donít have any smearing or fading. You can also read multiple RFID transponders at once, and they are immune to the usual transport and storage stresses. However, it is also a good idea to use clear and readable labels that can be read by real people as well as scanners.
Better still, use an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). This most definitely improves the picking and packing operations and reduces any picking errors or lost or misplaced materials.
For maximum efficiency you should have a warehouse management solution. A good warehouse management solution will consolidate orders so that you can minimise travel time during picking, increasing efficiency and throughput. It can integrate with your ERP or inventory management system so that your inventory stays in sync, which increases accuracy, while reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.
You can also use cross-docking to speed up operations and eliminate excessive inventory handling, by delivering goods needed for orders to the shipping dock without making a stop in the warehouse. This reduces the order cycle time and material handling costs.
Another vital part of the jigsaw is to organise regular maintenance of your warehouse equipment. You should have your equipment serviced on a regular basis in the same way that you do your car. This has two benefits, the first of which is that any potential problems should be spotted before they become an actual problem and cause a halt in your proceedings. If you have six forklifts, and one suddenly goes down, you have just lost nearly 17% of your operating capacity until you can get it back up and running again. Carrying out routine maintenance may seem an expense, but it is a lot better than the alternative.
Cycle counting is also worth taking into consideration. Many people think that it is just useful for keeping on-hand balances right. Certainly, that is one feature, but you can also use it for quality assurance. If you find an error, or rather, when you find an error, use it as an opportunity to find out the reason for it and then tweak your warehouse management system to ensure that it doesnít happen again. That way, over time, you will get your warehouse management system to as near perfect as it can be, and that is what you want to achieve.