To those on the outside looking into the world of logistics, it might be hard to understand that warehousing is more complicated than it seems. After all, how difficult is it to put something on a shelf? Those who work in the industry understand that it takes hard work and know-how to do it right.
Far more than just a place to keep inventory, the modern warehouse is the heart of your supply chain. If you don’t do everything you can to keep it running efficiently and effectively, it could cause a domino effect that might leave you unable to fill orders the way your customers expect from you. With that in mind, here are 8 of the most commonly found warehousing problems and solutions, so you can make sure your facility is working as well as it should be.
1. Suboptimal Packing Paths
Everything in your warehouse should be planned to make each process as smooth and effortless as possible. For example, the more territory your team has to cover to assemble an order, the longer each one takes to fill. This, of course, means that some orders that could be filled will have to wait until later, with the effect continuing to send shockwaves throughout your supply chain.
If you want to avoid this, the best course of action is to plan picking paths through your facility that minimize the number of steps each picker needs to take to get from one item to the next. It may require a little effort to help ensure proper groupings, but that’s nothing compared to the time you will be saving.
2. Keeping Too Much Inventory
Keeping your shelves stocked with more inventory than you really need is one of the most challenging warehousing issues. Finding individual items becomes more challenging when shelf space is being used with products that don’t move fast enough, not to mention the safety hazards that cramped aisles can create in your busy working environment. It isn’t a matter of whether or not your stock brings you joy, but keeping your warehouse leaner can make you and your customers happier.
3. Using Outdated Systems
The most successful warehousing operations in the world today have a sophisticated data infrastructure humming behind the scenes. Tracking every item with barcode scanning, RFID tags, and other advanced processes helps ensure the information behind the goods moves along just as well as the shipments do. However, many companies still rely on old-fashioned pen-and-paper workflows to keep track of everything.
They may believe this saves them money, or keeps the complexity of their systems from getting out of hand, but the opposite is most likely true. Paperwork increases the risk of human error and adds to how long it takes to complete each individual task. Upgrading to a digital workflow may be a big initial investment, but it will pay off over the long run in a major way because it may help you avoid a large number of warehouse issues and problems.
4. Maintaining a Messy Warehouse
Warehouses are industrial environments, and no one would expect them to be clean enough to eat off the floor. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should ignore housekeeping duties each day. Every piece of litter or clutter that takes space on your floor is a potential tripping hazard for your workers and slows work as everyone takes care to avoid them. This is why you simply can’t ignore the necessary tasks of keeping your facility neat and tidy at the end of every shift.
5. Ignoring Healthy and Safety Measures
Accidents on the job mean the potential for serious injuries — or worse. They also have the potential to significantly disrupt productivity. Unfortunately, far too many warehouses don’t give health and safety procedures the proper amount of attention and emphasis. Keeping aisles clear is important, but your employees also should be given all the tools they need to keep one another safe throughout the workday. These include regular training and reminders as well as providing all the appropriate PPE. Reporting also should not be overlooked. When employees get in the habit of reporting any accidents or near-misses they encounter, you can gain a deeper understanding of where your protocols are working and where they need some improvement.
6. Ignoring The Numbers
You can’t hit a target if you have no idea where it is. This is why it is crucial for every warehousing operation to devote some of its energies to tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). Keeping a close eye on how well your team performs on a regular basis will show you where improvements need to be made and how you can eliminate pinch points. This is another area in which having a robust warehouse management system can be extremely valuable. The regular reporting from your software makes it easy to see where you’re hitting the mark and where you need to adjust.
7. Not Using An Automated System
The modern warehouse is much too complex to manage entirely on your own. Having a warehouse management system software platform means much of the grunt work can be automated in the background while you and your team concentrate on more important jobs. These systems will track your inventory levels, generate reports, manage labor, and other crucial tasks while you focus on other areas. Without automation, you can expect fulfillments to take more time and be at higher risk for mistakes and oversights.
8. Not Planning For Growth
Your warehouse may be doing the job for you right now, but what about tomorrow? Are you ready if a sudden surge of orders comes in unexpectedly, or will you be swamped? If your company is eyeing an expansion into a new market, for instance, the setup you have right now may not be adequate to handle it. The more prepared you are for what might come next, the easier it may be to roll with the changes and keep your momentum going.
Whether you are looking to save space or to improve day-to-day throughput processes, the right racking storage system can shape your facility to its maximum potential. Contact the team at Complete Warehouse Supply for your initial chat to see what solution will work best for your warehouse needs.