Managing a warehouse is a high-pressure occupation, with thousands of product units coming in and out of your facility each day and potentially millions of dollars in transactions on the line. On top of the day-to-day obligations of a top-tier warehouse manager, the numerous procedural and logistical issues that come with the job can leave even the most experienced professional at their wit’s end.
Fortunately, overcoming warehouse management’s greatest challenges is possible with hard work, determination, and some guidance from other industry members who have dealt with similar issues in their own workplaces. Here are some tips on how to understand and address common obstacles in warehousing operations.
Of course, the bread and butter of any warehousing business is pulling products from inventory and getting them delivered to customers as quickly as possible. However, in the rush to fill a never-ending stream of orders, some warehouse managers let accurate inventory counting fall by the wayside and fall back on bad picking patterns that do not make efficient use of time or warehouse space.
As a warehouse manager, one of the best things you can do to overcome these particular challenges is to minimize manual inventory tracking by implementing regular, automated checks of what you have on your shelves, whether through a modern RFID system or barcode scans.
It is also advisable to examine the way your employees move through your warehouse and the routes they follow when picking orders. Consider where you could cut out redundancies, streamline the picking process for common and high-volume orders, or rearrange your racks and workspaces to improve efficiency.
Even if your warehouse operates efficiently, there is only so much procedural excellence can do to make up for sluggish sales numbers. Determining how to organize a warehouse around seasonal demands without sacrificing the ability to fill orders year round is another challenge that warehouse managers must overcome.
Fortunately, many of the same strategies that can help increase picking efficiency and reduce redundancies on the warehouse floor can also help identify what high-volume items should be stored where for easier picking and distribution. It is also useful to track and analyze customer trends for streamlining warehouse operations and to predict what products should be stocked in advance of seasonal demand.
It’s no secret that some amount of product loss is simply something to budget for, whether it stems from depreciation in storage, damage during transit, or returns from customers. However, just because you can expect this kind of expense every month does not mean there is nothing you could do to mitigate the amount it takes out of your budget.
Efficient picking patterns, pallet flow systems, and racking strategies can help reduce the amount of unsellable product you have as a result of damage sustained before sale. Standardizing how you handle returns and making it a naturally incorporated part of your warehouse operations can also help minimize the resources needed to process them on a case-by-case basis. Through a proactive approach to warehouse management, you could have a much easier time overcoming some of the industry’s greatest challenges than many of your competitors.