There are many factors that contribute to warehouse efficiency. The degree to which each of these factors impacts your bottom line varies from warehouse to warehouse, but they are all important. Here are some of the top factors that could be slowing you down and impeding your progress.
Lack of adequate technology is probably the single largest factor that is holding you back. Manual processes are a drain on resources and leave you open to human error. By this point, you may have already noticed that your competitors are outpacing you with modern warehouse management software and advanced stock placement systems. While the investment up front may be great, the return on technology is exceptionally high.
The processes your team relies on day in and day out may be outdated. Companies who rely heavily on manual processes and paperwork tend to get stuck in a cycle of creating more and more work for themselves over time. Each new form and verification process results in redundant work and unnecessary extra steps. A truly efficient warehouse is one that gets the job done right the first time without having to recheck it over and over, or rework it.
Planning ahead for labor needs and accurately predicting output has been a challenge for warehouse efficiency since the very beginning. You need to be actively seeking ways to optimize your labor force and ensure that you have the right number of team members scheduled to match the actual volume of work available. Too many employees on the floor is just as detrimental as too few. Employees who have too much free time often get distracted and leave themselves open to making simple mistakes. Employees who are rushed do the same. A WMS will give you better control over scheduling and planning going forward.
Warehouse efficiency isn't just about how fast your product moves. It's actually about the quality of the work being done. It is inefficient to do 100% quality control checks. On the other hand, it is equally difficult to try and randomize quality checks on your own and document them effectively. A WMS can assist with creating truly random QC checks that are easily recorded. This provides information about individual employee accuracy rates as well as overall warehouse efficiency and accuracy.
These are just four of the most common areas where warehouse efficiency suffers. Each warehouse tries to balance these factors in their own way, often piecing together a system that works well enough, but doesn't push them to truly efficient results. A Warehouse Management System serves to solve many of these problems internally and offers guidance for making intelligent decisions that get real results.