01 Aug 2018 Improve Workforce Efficiency Within The Warehouse
Improving warehouse productivity is something all businesses want to achieve. But it may not be as easy as it seems. Or, is it?
Warehouse and distribution operations can be unpredictable. This makes forward planning a daily challenge. These are dynamic environments with many opportunities to improve performance and cut costs. Looking for strategies to optimise workforce efficiency should be an ongoing process.
Some of the universal principles that apply to any warehouse operation include:
• Reducing product handling to minimise labour, time, and damage to goods
• Eliminating the amount of travel within the facility to decrease labour and time
• Reducing the number of steps in all processes to simplify each task and save time and labour
• Eliminating all handwritten data to reduce errors and for better communication
• Using a computer where it can do a better job than people to give you a competitive advantage.
These principles apply to all businesses to some degree. These are opportunities to improve workflow and increase production in all facilities. With this in mind, here are six easy ways to improve workforce efficiency in your warehouse and control costs.
1. Appoint the right people to management
When you have the right people in management roles, it keeps the pressure on staff to do a good job. Effective managers know it is all about getting the job done right and on time. They have the ability to affect worker morale, the quality of customer order fulfilment, as well as your costs.
Good managers earn the respect of their team members, motivating them to work at peak performance
2. Simplify processes and procedures
Often businesses introduce new processes and procedures without reviewing the old ones. Do you introduce these without considering the ones already in place? New processes should supplement the ones you already have in place or replace them.
Does the way staff do their work no longer make sense? Is there double-handling? Are there a lot of mistakes or damaged goods coming out of your warehouse? These are good reasons to set up a working party to review warehouse processes and procedures. You need to find better ways of operating in the warehouse. Make sure you consult your team for they are on the frontline and will give you valuable insight. It will also make them feel valued when you seek their feedback.
3. Improve warehouse layout
Consider how well your warehouse is set up for maximum efficiency. A warehouse that is set up inefficiently can have a negative impact on your business. It creates issues with inventory control, cause transport issues, safety risks, and decrease productivity.
An example is having aisles that run the entire length of the warehouse without any obstructions in the way. This will make moving around the facility easier and much safer. Add cross aisles strategically for easy access. This allows staff to work with maximum efficiency without double handling goods. Everything should be easy to access, well organised, and maximise every square foot of the facility.
4. Involve your employees
Your most valuable resource is your employees. Involve them by asking for input into ways to improve the way that they work. They are the people doing the work and will have some great ideas on how to make the workflow better. By getting input and ideas on how to improve warehouse processes and procedures, it will change their attitude to the job. It also means implementing any changes will be more successful when staff help design them.
An example could be to ask staff how you can improve their workstations. They can help to define a good size for the work they do as well as the best height and configuration. Asking staff their advice can improve their performance and their workforce attitude. It encourages workers to take ownership and be accountable for the work they do.
5. Implement a warehouse management system
Are you still relying on paper-based systems or Excel spreadsheets in your warehouse? This can seriously impede workforce efficiency if you are. Now is the time to consider implementing a warehouse management system (WMS). These days warehouses are dealing with higher volumes and higher customer expectations. A WMS can improve the efficiency and productivity of your workforce and prevent costly errors.
The purpose of a WMS is to support warehouse staff in their daily tasks. There are many systems on the market with the advancement of technology. They can enhance workforce efficiency and performance by optimising the daily tasks of employees. You can use a WMS to handle the tasks that slow down the performance of your workforce. You need to do your research to find the best system to fit your business. Make sure the system you invest in not only fits your current operations but has the ability to scale up as the business grows.
Cost of labour is ever increasing so it is important for businesses to improve workforce efficiency. Successful businesses adopt continuous improvement processes. They assess the value of processes and procedures and the results on the warehouse floor.
Complete ongoing assessments. Develop a plan that includes objective and accountability for improvement. Complete constant reviews of the progress and adjust the plan when you need to. Doing this will help you improve workplace efficiency on an ongoing basis.
6. Outsource your warehouse requirements
From a warehousing perspective, the varying requirements of managing furniture and fittings are both diverse and complex. Being able to effectively transport and store your goods is just part of the consideration, whilst also remaining competitive in the current market. Outsourcing is the ideal alternative for companies choosing to save on the high capital costs needed to establish their own logistics solutions, such as holding stock in a warehouse, implementing the IT infrastructure to manage stock control, or staffing the requirement.
Inventory management is an important yet time-consuming aspect of business and is costly to house and manage; sometimes steering you away from your core business. Outsourcing your warehousing requirements allows you to focus on growing your business while leaving the inventory management details to industry professionals.
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