Running a warehouse business comes with so many responsibilities. It’s not only about putting everything in place and getting the products out on time. It is also about maximizing productivity while saving money and time.
Some practices, such as product labeling, are intuitive and can be accomplished using software and tools. Others, such as scanners, barcodes, and RFID systems, are all part of the warehouse management system while monitoring the flow of products and enhancing accuracy. Remember that efficiency is paramount to success when running a warehouse.
Here are some tips for improving your warehouse business.
Use Data to Improve Labor Efficiency
Regardless of how well your warehouse functions, you can always improve labor efficiency. If you want to make your workers more productive, make it easier for them to do so. There are several ways to improve labor efficiency, and the best way to do this is to rely on data.
Instead of expanding the footprint of your warehouse, consider better use of vertical space. Equip the warehouse with taller storage units and invest in more compact equipment for picking and storing materials. In addition, consider the type of shelving to use. Storing small items on the pallet rack is not only a waste of space, but it will make it easier for workers to misplace things. Instead of using the same shelves for your warehouse, you might have to use varying shelving units for different materials. In addition, try using standardized bins that can help keep the shelves organized and neat.
Another way to improve efficiency is to implement a lean inventory. Implementing a lean inventory for the warehouse is just as crucial as in manufacturing. The basic premise of lean is to keep only what you need and forget about what you don’t need yet. You can perhaps reduce or eliminate some stocks and have the suppliers deliver smaller quantities on a regular basis.
Automate Where Possible
Warehouse automation refers to the process of automating warehouse operations, such as the movement of inventory within the warehouse and out to the customers with less human assistance. One of the benefits of automation is eliminating labor-intensive duties involving repetitive physical work, including manual data entry and analysis.
For instance, a worker can load heavy packages to a mobile robot. The robot will then move the inventory from one end of the warehouse towards the shipping zone, and embedded software will record the movement of the inventory, making sure that the records are up to date and this is then maintained by embedded systems engineer contacts.
However, warehouse automation does not always involve robotic automation. In many cases, it simply refers to the use of software to replace manual tasks. But the scenario proves that robots can improve the reliability, speed, efficiency, and accuracy of loading and transporting things in the warehouse.
Warehouses can be automated in a number of ways, from automating the process of picking, barcode label scanning, and back-office processes. Any warehouse hoping to improve its bottom line can significantly benefit from automation.
Robotics is very useful in a warehouse setting, especially in the various aspects of fulfillment, including picking. It helps to minimize the walking and traveling within the warehouse, leading to improved productivity. With the help of robotics, the time needed to pick and place items physically will be reduced and the packing and transporting of goods across various staging areas. When implementing robotics in the warehouse, consider bringing in special robotics engineering experts who can help set up, program, and maintain the robots.
Many different types of robots are useful in a warehouse setting. For instance, Autonomous Mobile Robots use sensor technology in delivering inventory within the warehouse. These robots do not require a pre-set route between locations because they fully understand their environment, thanks to the onboard sensors, maps, and computers.
The robots can also identify every product’s information and precisely sort them out. They can move throughout the warehouse since they create their routes according to the operation required. The robots can also reroute when necessary and avoid any obstacles. They offer accuracy, efficiency, and security during the entire process of sorting.
These robots can significantly reduce the redundant process of sorting things, allowing workers to handle more collaborative and creative roles. Sometimes, humans are more prone to error once they find their job too repetitive and boring. But today’s robotics can provide consistent accuracy regardless of the tedious nature of tasks. As a result, the warehouse will enjoy a higher accuracy, especially in terms of product inventory.
Maximize Use of Space
Another way you can improve your warehouse business is to maximize the storage space. First, evaluate the racks and the shelves and see if you can extend them up vertically to allow more storage space. Next, consider installing a mezzanine. Add a mezzanine above the floor-level process, such as in the shipping or receiving area. Doing so can almost double the floor space, but you have to make sure that the loading floor will handle it.
Another thing you can do is to reduce the width of the aisle at the racking area. A wide aisle could range from 10 to 12 feet, but if you can reduce this to anywhere from five to eight feet, you can save about 15 to 20 percent of the area. When considering this option, you must carefully evaluate the lift equipment. Is the equipment capable of moving through the narrow aisles? You might also have to deal with the added expense of wire guidance when the aisle becomes too narrow.
Another option is to change your storage to much higher density equipment. For instance, you can move to a double-deep rack to replace the single-deep rack. A double-deep rack would require using a reach truck to load pallets. Drive-in racks can also make for a higher density alternative. They are an excellent option for adding storage.
It’s also a good idea to identify any underutilized space and make good use of it. For instance, there’s often space on top of the shipping or receiving doors where you can store pallet racks full of supplies and slow-moving products.