When it comes to warehouse management, many managers are often focused on looking at the bigger picture that they miss minor details. In many cases, it is these minor details that cause big problems. To improve your warehouse efficiency, in addition to taking big steps such as opting for warehouse management solutions, you also need to find solutions to issues that may seem trivial today, but, if not addressed in a timely fashion, can snowball into major problems tomorrow. To help you optimize your warehouse operations, we take a look at some common problems and their solutions.
One of the most common, yet ignored warehouse problems, is narrow aisles. Narrow aisles make it difficult for workers to move swiftly with equipment. They may bump into things or people, which can not only cause product damage but can also slow down operations – often dragging down the productivity of your warehouse management teams.
To address this problem, opt for narrow aisle forklifts that are specifically designed to operate in confined spaces. If your aisles are too narrow, look for a very narrow aisle forklift that can be driven through super tight spaces such as a standard doorway. Very narrow aisle forklifts allow drivers to stand up, helping improve their visibility; which holds the key to avoiding accidents. Make sure the forklift can be equipped with hydraulic attachments that enhance their versatility.
More than the optimal elevation
Many warehouses are designed in a way that workers have to get to higher ground to perform tasks. To ensure the safety of their workers, the warehouse manager must opt for stable, portable platforms, designed to help improve access to difficult-to-reach places, without compromising on safety.
If your team members are facing this problem, opt for personnel lifts. When choosing a personnel lift, consider the needs of your team members. If, for instance, your team members need a personnel lift that extends their vertical reach, look for telescoping boom lifts that can be controlled by a worker from atop a work platform.
Articulating boom lifts can help reach positions that cannot be easily accessed using telescoping boom lifts. If you need more lifting capacity, opt for scissor lifts. Other options include vertical personnel lifts and mast boom lifts.
The ongoing need to charge and maintain forklift batteries
In a busy warehouse where every team member has much on their plate during any given point, tasks such as charging and maintaining batteries on a forklift and other equipment should be as less time and effort-consuming as possible.
To help your team members save time and efforts, look for forklifts powered by lithium-ion batteries. Though they cost more than lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are safer and take less time to charge than traditional options. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries come with extended warranties, helping keep a tab on maintenance costs.
Installing a lithium-ion battery in a pallet jack can shorten its chassis, helping improve maneuverability.
Labour-intensive processes for moving items
If you depend on your team members to move items from one place to another, you are losing on invaluable man hours that could have been invested in performing other productive jobs.
One way to address this problem is opting for weasels, a conveying system. In this system, automated carts move along an optical tracking system to move goods throughout the facility. Before starting to use this system, you will have to install the tracking system, which is a simple task and should not take much time.
High labour costs
One of the major expenses involved in managing a warehouse is labour costs. Studies suggest that labour costs account for around 65% of the operating budget of an average warehouse. To keep a tab on your labour costs, evaluate every process such as order picking receiving, replenishment and packing. Preparing a list of which team is doing what and in what time frame will help you understand where your teams are going wrong. Based on your findings, come up with a solution to address the problem.
Make sure the products are organized properly. Your products that account for a good percentage of the time devoted to picking activity must be stored in the most ergonomically sound positions. Consider automating your manual processes. Use voice solutions for replenishment, picking and order checking. To reduce labour turnover and increase employee motivation, offer perks for outstanding performance.
Poor inventory accuracy
Maintaining inaccurate inventory levels can open a Pandora’s box of troubles. While maintaining a lower than optimal inventory level can result in stock-outs, stocking more units than required will not only result in space constraints but can also impact your revenue.
To address this problem, opt for an inventory management system that provides visibility into your stock levels at all times. Keep an eye on changes in your business environment and tweak your system when required.
Inaccurate product placement
Never store your top-selling products at the back of your warehouse. Instead, store them at the front, from where they can be easily packed and moved. Use the rear area to store products that are not sold frequently. To avoid time wastage when locating items, instruct your team members to scan every product’s barcode and the slot barcode before placing it into a storage slot.