Warehouse management is complex, but done right it can reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and increase warehouse operational efficiency. It’s simple to improve warehouse operations with the adoption of good warehousing practices. Here is a list of the top 11 ways to improve operations by adopting just a few warehouse management best practices.
Warehouse Picking Best Practices
- Use standardized containers to store materials. Standardized containers simplify warehouse order fulfillment, making it easier to find and store materials, and giving the warehouse a neater appearance that improves organization. Using standardized bins minimize the variety of material handling equipment you need. They also eliminate wasted time while pickers search for the right equipment.
- Use bin locations to ensure that bins and pallets are placed carefully on shelves in the assigned location. This can minimize lost or misplaced inventory, and reduces time spent looking for materials.
- Use clear, readable labels that can be read by people as well as scanners or other equipment to further reduce errors.
- Implement 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.
Warehouse Organization Best Practices
- Warehouse square footage is expensive, so maximize the use of all your vertical space, even if it requires an investment in additional equipment. You will reduce operational costs, inventory carrying costs, and increase the efficiency of picking and packing operations
- Utilize automation wherever possible. Use barcodes, RFID tags, NFC or whatever technology works best for your inventory mix so you always have accurate on-hand counts and locations. Barcode equipment is not an expensive choice — you can even use a mobile phone.
- One of the most cost-effective ways to use automation is with an AS/RS. It greatly increases the efficiency of picking and packing operations, and reduces lost or misplaced materials and picking errors. You will be able to ship a greater number of perfect orders with an AS/RS in place.
Adopt a warehouse management solution for maximum efficiency. A good warehouse management solution will consolidate orders so that you can minimize 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 — increasing accuracy, reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.
Use omni-channel distribution centers rather than separate warehouses or sections for each channel. You will be able to reduce the total inventory in your supply chain, have greater visibility into availability, and simplify order picking and reverse logistics.
Warehouse Inventory Management Best Practices
Many people think of cycle counting as an inventory management tactic for keeping on-hand balances correct. While that is one positive aspect of the practice, the more important aspect is to treat cycle counting as a quality assurance test. When you find errors, don’t just correct the balance. Instead, investigate the reason for the discrepancy and make changes to your warehouse management procedures to prevent the issue from occurring again. Over time, a good cycle count program will improve accuracy to near perfection.
Integrate your AS/RS and WMS solutions. These two technologies work together, each increasing the usefulness of the other. With the right equipment in place, managing a warehouse becomes much simpler and it will be easier to meet your metrics for perfect orders, accuracy, efficiency and productivity. The easiest way to ensure seamless integration is to select an AS/RS and WMS that are designed to work together, so you eliminate the cost and hassle of integrating them yourself.
If you would like to learn more about warehouse management solutions and the advantages of an AS/RS in improving productivity and reducing costs, contact Westfalia Technologies today.