Effectively managing day-to-day warehouse operations can be a challenge regardless of whether you have two years or two decades of experience in the field. However, there is a lot that you can learn from people who have held managerial roles in warehouses for several years. Here are 10 tips from a warehouse operations manager on how to minimize losses and maximize productivity in your business.
Put simply, running a business well means ensuring that it operates like a well-oiled machine, and in order for every part of that machine to contribute effectively, they need to collectively work toward producing the same outcome. Before doing anything else, make sure that you and your workers are all on the same page about what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them
Of course, one of the most important ways to make goals achievable is to quantify them. If you want to increase productivity, you have to understand what increased productivity means for your business. Discussing with employees in detail about what amount of output is expected on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and making adjustments each quarter as you get more information on how attainable those goals are.
More so than sales data or day-to-day output metrics, the greatest source of information about how your warehouse is operating is the workforce inside it. Don’t just welcome input from your employees – actively seek it, encourage workers to give feedback, and do everything you can to incorporate what they see on the ground into what you plan for on paper.
For the sake of both safety and productivity, it’s always best to take care of problems as soon as they pop up, rather than kicking the can down the road and risking a bigger cumulative issue later on. If there is a spill or an unsecured load on a pallet, incentivize your employees to take care of those things as they happen.
Data isn’t just something to put up on a bulletin board as a sign of progress – it’s vital information you can use to determine what operational strategies are working and which ones need improvement. Perform regular cycle counts and keep track of pick rates, order processing time, and relative inventory value as you plan your next operational move.
While encouraging employees to work quickly might increase profits in the short term, the costs of a serious accident could erase those gains in a matter of seconds. If you want to keep your warehouse operating smoothly, maintaining safe picking and packing techniques is much more important than keeping a fast working pace.
A happy worker is a productive one, and the happiest workers are generally those who know their hard work is appreciated. Instituting compensation bonuses and awards for high productivity and safe working habits can go a long way toward boosting morale and keeping your warehouse operations on track.
Every warehouse has its high-volume, high-selling items, and adjusting your warehouse layout for easier access to those items can improve operational efficiency. If you know certain items are ordered more often or commonly ordered together, store them close to the front of your warehouse to ensure they can be accessed quickly.
There’s usually a lot more storage space available in a warehouse than many people realize, provided you know where to look for it and how to make use of it. Vertical rack patterns, mezzanines over storage areas and loading bays, and various other measures can help ensure that no square foot is wasted.
In addition to all these other tips, make sure you communicate with your team regularly and clearly, so you can all work together to make a more efficient working environment.