Efficiency is the name of any corporate game. It means doing things better & faster without jeopardizing the safety of your workforce or end product. Although developing a plan to make your warehouse more efficient may sound simple, in fact, it can be quite challenging. Here are some tips on what to focus on.
1. Understand your Business. Understand how your stock will be processed. From stock turns to returns, understand where product needs to be housed and for how long. Understand the volumes to be shipped and received on a weekly basis. For example, if unloading turnaround times can be increased, can you operate with fewer doors? If so, could those bays be used as warehousing space?
2. Invest in Technology. Complete a thorough evaluation on your operation. Can improvements be made to your current handling operation? Investigate products currently in the marketplace and analyze how they could impact your warehouse.
3. Lay out your Warehouse Properly. Enough emphasis cannot be placed on this point. A warehouse can be a very busy place, with forklifts and people, not to mention product going up, down, left & right. When laid out correctly, workers & machinery have an increased chance of success because there is flow and room to maneuver. If possible, avoid working in cramped spaces.
4. Encourage Safe Practices. Train your staff regularly on how to move and behave inside your warehouse. Ensure proper qualifications and licenses are kept up-to-date. Refer to your company’s Health & Safety guidelines. Listen to the workers on the warehouse floor. Do they see opportunities for improvement?
Separate pedestrian and forklift traffic. According to the article “Top 10 Forklift Accidents” by David Frane, 1 out of 6 workplace deaths are forklift related. There are about 110,000 forklift accidents each year and almost 80% of these accidents involve a pedestrian. Forklift accidents cost businesses over $135 million dollars each year. More safety precautions need to be in place. With stats like those noted, workplaces need more than just a few signs and some yellow painted lines.
5. Understand both Inbound & Outbound Traffic. Understand the capacity of your yard to avoid possible bottlenecks when receiving or shipping. Issues in your parking lot can affect your inside operations so keep abreast of any inbound and outbound schedules.