The rise of automation in the warehousing industry might lead people to believe that today’s warehouses practically run themselves. However, it takes great attention to detail to keep warehouses humming. Looking for some help from the pros? Consider these five tips from experts to successfully run a warehouse in 2021.
Think about every cubic foot of volume in your warehouse. You’re paying to rent it or own it. You’re paying to heat and cool it. What are you doing with it? If it’s not storing inventory or somehow working in service of storing inventory, it isn’t working—and that won’t work for you. Consider narrow aisle solutions, as well as installing double-deep racks. You can also utilize your “airspace” with high density storage solutions.
Invest in a Warehouse Management System
Trying to run a warehouse off Microsoft Word and Excel is a bit like shoveling a driveway with a dustpan and the lid of a storage bin. Better tools are available. Today’s businesses demand tight processes and data management. Warehouses are no exception. There are many WMS systems available with unique functionality to accommodate your specific operating requirements. Modern WMS systems provide valuable data-driven insight to guide your inventory management, storage and retrieval efficiency, material flow process and much more.
Keep Your Workforce Motivated
Any distribution expert will tell you that it’s easy to forget about the human element of your warehouse. In fact, with technology taking on so many tasks around the warehouse, the tasks you entrust to your workers are more important than ever—and that means keeping them engaged. Don’t let workers mistake themselves for more robots. Your human resource is what is providing the value you bring to the marketplace. Get to know them and show them they are valued members of the team.
Protect Your Investments
Even a well-organized warehouse can be chaotic. With mobile machinery coexisting with stationary equipment, the chance of a collision and safety hazard may be higher. Protect against unwanted contact by installing guardrails and specialized warehouse safety barriers around sensitive sections of the warehouse, such as air compressors, motors, pedestrian walkways, blind spots, heavy traffic areas, hazardous production equipment, offices, and even your pallet racks. Your workers and safety inspectors will thank you.
Increase Onsite Inventory
Headwinds from lingering impacts of the global pandemic and tailwinds from increased e-commerce have made US warehouses and distribution centers consider different strategies. Some are increasing onsite inventory to reduce the dependence on JIT (especially in 2021 and 2022) and the risk of unpredictable supply chain partners. The domino effect has significantly increased the uncertainty of inventory arrival and delivery commitments. If you have available square footage or vertical airspace, consider putting it to good use.