A few hacks to increase warehouse distribution efficiency

By Vikash Kumar Chaudhary, Senior SEO Executive, Tatvasoft. 

Operations are the heart of any business and warehouse industry is no exception!

Distribution centres and warehouses seem to be evolving by leaps and bounds greater than ever. This becomes a worrisome problem for owners because if they fail to keep their pulse on warehouse productivity, then they might end up facing disappointment and falling behind competitors.

Right from labour, staffing to third-party scheduling vendor meets, there are so many variables in play. And not everyone is fortunate enough to have control. As a result, it becomes crucial to improve the overall efficiency of your warehouse and distribution centre.

With the unexpected advent of technology, warehouses, and throughput centres, distribution centers are practising safe and efficient methods to reduce errors, labour and cycle time, and increase accuracy and service. For those who have a vague idea regarding the industry, it provides transportation, labeling, packing, order fulfilment, cross-docking, order preparation and processing, shipping, receiving, performance measurement, returned goods processing, and several things external and internal departments and stakeholders need. 

Now making changes to too many areas at once can lead to confusion and, instead of resulting in increases in productivity, can actually have the opposite effect. Down below I would like you to get acquainted with specific tips to optimize your existing facility to achieve higher throughput.

#1 Keeping things organised

Do you know one of the common reasons for poor efficiency is having a poorly-organized warehouse? That’s why it is extremely important to have a thoroughly thought-out floor plan so that your employees, as well as customers, can navigate with ease. In visual terms, products and packages should be accessed by people without getting into each other’s way or stepping on each other’s toes.  

In addition to this, you can even think of labelling items clearly on the shelf, destination or point of origin, group packages by their contents. On and all, the layout should make sense to your employees, so they’ll be able to find the items they need without having to look at a spreadsheet. 

#2 Adopt lean operation practices

If we recall way back from its historical roots, warehouses (known as storage for goods) seem to have evolved at a fanatic pace. With the increasingly globalized marketplace, high-level inventory management, rapid receiving and shipping dock management, customers crave for nothing more than accurate, flexible pick and pack services. 

By considering lean warehouse operations, owners can strive for significant, long-term and sustainable benefits such as reduced handling time, reduction in loading/unloading times of trucks and containers to increased reliability and sharing of information and greater flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions of customer specifications, lean brings about a sea change in the warehouse mindset. 

#3 Prioritise Fast  

Another crucial aspect when organising your warehouse is keeping your priorities in mind. Every element you have chosen must favour your fastest -moving products. Let me reveal one of the deepest secrets of bestsellers. They don’t tend to sit on the shelf for very long. This means make sure your employees can easily retrieve them at all times.

Gone are the days when professionals had to go back all the way to the back just to retrieve a product. Moving all the fast-selling products to the front of warehouses can save an adequate amount of time. Besides, they should be kept low to the ground and close to the loading dock.

It’s all about focusing on moving better -performing products to the front while keeping the less popular products at the back. I would suggest to go over your inventory and rate your products based on how often your employees need to retrieve them. It’s time to change. 

#4 Automate Data Collection

By tracking and automating everything, you can make sure that everything is put away in the right spot, whether it’s a rack or shelving. Make sure that your professionals scan all the destination locations, put fast-moving items in areas that are easy to access and don't forget to assign the ones close to pick slots where the product might be needed next. In case, if something cannot be tracked or recorded in the transaction, just ensure that the transaction is eliminated right away and placed on a list of movements to fix.

In addition to this, try recording data that can increase productivity and accuracy, and lower labour costs. Capture real-time information using bar codes and radio frequency identification tags can get products off the dock quickly and reduce human issues typically caused by manual receiving, such as counting and data errors, from the tracking process. Also, automating data collection allows managers to change product locations based on order consistency and picking difficulty. 

#5 Using inventory management software

Collecting data on the shipping containers, products moving in and out of your facility is a common practice in a warehouse. Hence saving time here become inevitable. Using an inventory management software can work wonders. Right from viewing how many products are present on the shelf to when shipments require to go out and when new shipments are due to arrive, any and every information can be achieved with the help of such software synced with your data collection devices, so you won’t have to worry about entering that information twice. 

Also, these intelligent programs even help in anticipating future outcomes like inventory shortages, delivery delays, and other potential problems. They keep a log of the history of your facility’s operations to help better predict what’s going to happen in the future.   

Final Word

Practicing appropriate methods can go a long way in making sure that your warehouse is working as it should. Managing a warehouse efficiently is all about considering a great deal of effort and time. At the end of the day, warehouse productivity leads to reduced costs and competitive advantage. This is just a brief post, but there is a lot more that must be taken care of when it comes to increasing the productivity of your warehouse. So that's all for now. Keep watching the space to get a better perspective regarding the same.

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