Whether you’re an eCommerce business or a manufacturer, the last few years have probably made you realize that your warehouse management processes could use improvement.
Today, we’re sharing best practices for how to improve warehouse management. These tips are relevant both for companies planning to implement new technology and for companies that are simply planning a business process improvement initiative.
How to Improve Warehouse Management: 6 Tips
1. Schedule Regular Training
Make sure your warehouse employees are always up to speed on how to access data insights that can make their jobs easier.
For example, they should know how to access the information they need to process shipments as quickly as possible. When they can do so, processes flow more smoothly, partners are happy, and customers stay loyal.
So, how do you ensure employees have access to the data they need? We recommend scheduling regular training sessions so all team members can learn how to properly use the tools and technologies at their fingertips.
Ideally, these will be modern technologies, so you don’t have to deal with the downtime and lack of data integration associated with old and outdated systems.
Software Selection & Process Improvement Case Study
In helping the client get its project back on track, one of our primary focus areas was decreasing their customization needs by improving their processes to align with the system's best practices.
2. Communicate Priorities
We don’t have to tell you that a warehouse is full of moving parts. At any given time, there are a dozen different issues going on, and managers can quickly become overwhelmed.
To assist with delegating, take the time to determine which items need prioritization. Then, communicate that urgency to your team so everyone knows those are the tasks to tackle first.
3. Improve Inventory Visibility
Your employees need to be able to clearly see all available inventory. With this visibility, you can expedite the order picking process because employees know precisely which stock-keeping units (SKUs) are available, where they’re located, and how many there are. When this data is accurate, you can ensure you maintain the correct SKU numbers, while reducing downtime.
Hopefully, you have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with real-time monitoring capabilities. Users can leverage this data to understand historical trends and patterns, which helps them plan their inventory and forecast sales to avoid issues related to overstocking or understocking.
4. Consider Cross-Docking
Putting items away can take up a lot of valuable warehouse time. If you have certain items that need to be quickly shipped, consider skipping this process and sending them right back out as soon as they arrive.
This is known as cross-docking. It requires re-labeling an item for shipping as soon as it enters the receiving dock. From there, it goes right back onto the shipping dock.
This quick turnaround time helps you meet customer demands for faster shipping times. It also reduces re-work for your warehouse employees and helps them process a greater number of orders.
5. Optimize Labeling
You might think you’ve optimized nearly every part of your warehouse labeling strategy. Yet, consider whether you could optimize it further because every wasted motion adds up.
Think about the total amount of time it takes you to format, print, and affix labels. This process should be smooth and straightforward, so try to eliminate unnecessary steps and look for tools that can help you automate this process to the greatest extent possible.
6. Apply Lean Warehouse Management Principles
When you reduce the time and effort required to manage your warehouse, you can help prevent the following issues from occurring:
- Duplication of operations
- Low quality of order processing
- Excessive employee downtime
This means following a lean warehouse model where you reduce the total number of steps that each employee must perform to do their jobs.
When considering where to cut, start with your delivery planning stage. If you can make this step leaner, you’ll reduce the number of bottlenecks that follow.
You can also make life easier for warehouse employees responsible for inventory receiving. Start by brainstorming how you could apply lean principles to their processes, and then consider implementing a warehouse management system.
These systems allow users to designate a variety of picking strategies for different types of inventory.
For instance, employees may optimize the order picking process based on:
- Inventory turnover rates
- The specific type of operation
- Order volume numbers
Warehouse Management Doesn’t Have to be Overwhelming
If you’re wondering how to improve warehouse management, start with these tips.
Once you’ve mapped out some high-level process improvements, you may need to start thinking about modernizing your IT systems. Many modern ERP systems and warehouse management systems come with built-in industry best practices that are likely a great fit for your business requirements, especially now that you’ve aligned your processes with warehouse best practices.
By implementing a warehouse management system, manufacturing ERP system, or supply chain management system, you can streamline the flow of information and gain visibility into every facet of your warehouse operations.
Our ERP consulting team can help you improve your processes and select the right software platform for your business. Contact us below for a free consultation.