Your warehouse is at the heart of your entire business operation. All the best sales and marketing in the world can fall flat if your warehouse is an inefficient mess. Poor warehouse logistics leads to delays, lost revenue and even employee injury. It’s not too late to get everything in order. Whether you’re just setting up your space or you’re planning a major overhaul, following some cardinal rules of warehouse logistics will get you started on the right foot.
Do find the perfect manager
You don’t become a warehouse manager just because you worked in a warehouse for a while. The best managers are actually internal logistics professionals. They understand the needs of the entire business operation, while also managing day-to-day operations involving shipping and receiving. Warehouse managers also need to be good supervisors and leaders, to get all the personnel to adhere to the system and work together fluidly. Don’t underestimate the importance of this critical job and don’t cheap out when hiring. According to GlassDoor.com, starting pay for a warehouse manager is $50,000. Use that baseline to understand what you need to offer in your market and industry.
Do take warehouse organization seriously
Let’s get real—organization is the guiding light for successful warehouse logistics. If your products are disorganized, inefficiently laid out and mislabeled, you may as well just shut the bay doors now. Treat your warehouse just like other areas of your business. Set up protocols and guidelines for smooth operations, and consistently monitor the efficiency of individual tasks. Read up on how you can improve the flow of order picking and you could be amazed at the improvement in your overall productivity. Most importantly, maintain the organization you create within your warehouse. Once you let one little thing slide, the whole system could come tumbling down.
Do leverage technology with warehouse logistics software
If you’re trying to organize a warehouse, manage receiving, create pick flows and minimize order fulfillment times, and you’re trying to do it with only your brain and a spreadsheet—stop! Invest in a warehouse logistics software platform to help you organize, code and track your inventory. There are multiple options for different types of businesses and many offer a free trial period. Some of these programs can also integrate with other business software to simplify operations even further. It’ll take some money to buy and time to learn, but it will pay dividends in the end in greater efficiency and reduced stress.
Don’t let your warehouse get messy
It’s a warehouse, not an office, right? It doesn’t really matter if it’s clean and tidy, does it? The truth is, a messy or dirty warehouse is an even bigger problem than an out-of-order office. With stacks of products, heavy machinery and literally lots of moving parts and people, a warehouse presents a hazard if it’s not kept orderly. More than 20,000 workers are injured each year in forklift accidents, and some 100 of those accidents are fatal. Even discarded plastic wrap or a tipped-over box could have devastating consequences. Slip and fall accidents account for 95 million lost work days each year and 25% of all work injury claims. Have a regular cleaning schedule and make keeping the warehouse tidy everyone’s job.
Don’t forget to track your metrics
Everything is clean and organized. Orders mostly get out on time and customers are happy. Workers collaborate well and keep each other safe. Things are looking good for your warehouse logistics, but there’s one more thing you need to do on a regular basis. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly or bi-annually, evaluate your warehouse’s performance through data you collect via your software system or other metric tracking systems. Set up some key performance indicators and consistently judge your warehouse’s efficiency. This will set you on a path of continuous improvement for your warehouse logistics.