People think of warehouse jobs as blue-collar work. What they may not realize is that warehouses have sophisticated operations that require specific skills and expert management. Today’s warehouses and distribution centers are complex operations with many moving parts and variables. So it’s easy for managers to make avoidable or critical errors. We’ve selected five common warehouse management mistakes to avoid, as managing a warehouse or distribution center becomes more and more complex.
Poor Allocation of Space
Are you making the most of not only your square footage but your cubic footage as well? All too often, warehouse managers fail to think of using all possible space for revenue generation. Often, warehouse pallet racking systems do not utilize the vertical space available or optimize their racking layout to increase the number of bays. It’s worth investigating the possibility of utilizing narrow aisles, higher racking systems, different types of racking, or the addition of a work platform to increase floor space. This can be particularly important when your company does not have the option to relocate to a larger facility or doesn’t have the real estate to expand your current facility. Leveraging every available space, whether on the floor or in the air, is a very cost-effective approach and will improve your growth ability.
A recent survey of warehouse managers that *WERC conducted has shown that dock-to-stock cycle time is in the top 10 of the most commonly used warehouse success metrics. The time it takes to unload inventory, stock it, sort it, retrieve it, pick it, and pack it is a primary component of achieving operational excellence. Frequently review material flow cycle times to and from key areas. The dock, storage system, packaging lanes, and shipping lanes should remain at the top of your mind. Making incremental improvements can reap huge benefits with minimal disruption to ongoing operations. Here’s an example. The same WERC study shows that 85 percent of a worker’s time using static shelving in the picking area ends up wasted on travel time. In other words, workers mostly go around locating the inventory, and they only pick and pack about 15 percent of the time. Small improvements like using gravity flow shelving over static shelving can improve this function by increasing the number of shelf levels and cases per opening. It can also raise the overall amount of items stored. In this example, picking productivity can rise by as much as 60 percent using the same space with the right industrial warehouse solutions.
*Survey Source – DC VELOCITY readers and members of the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC)
Inattention to Safety
When nothing goes wrong, it’s easy to get lackadaisical about your commitment to safety protocols. A workplace accident serves as a rude awakening. Avoidable injuries to employees, equipment, or materials can occur due to a lack of protective gear, guarding equipment, or safety protocols. This can be catastrophic to daily operations and even result in the complete shutdown of the warehouse. Make safety a top priority and a key success metric. Offer continuing education to employees on safety in the workplace and make safety an ongoing enterprise-wide effort by using warehouse safety barriers and other rack safety products.
Lack of Professional Development
As automation, technology, and equipment expand in warehouses, your existing human resources must correspondingly evolve. As more basic and repetitive tasks move from man to machine, educated and skilled labor can take on more value-added activities that conveyors and picking robots can’t perform. This means you should invest in the professional development of your workforce to ensure they have a role in carrying out the crucial tasks that support your competitive advantage. You can also train them to improve the customer experience or meet other success metrics. Doing this will engage your workforce and make them feel they contribute to your company’s success and long-term viability.
No Warehouse Management System
If you haven’t invested in a warehouse management system, you are most likely inhibiting your company’s growth and operational effectiveness to some degree. Failing to invest in and implement a WMS is one of the most common warehouse management mistakes to avoid. Advances in supply chain management and logistics make it necessary to measure, analyze, and synthesize all data regarding your inventory and material flow operations. Without a WMS, you miss out on valuable data and insights that could improve your operations significantly. Material handling systems integrators like DAK Solutions can assist you in modernizing your warehouse by designing the perfect automation solution to drive your business forward in 2021 and beyond.