It’s not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution to boost your warehouse performance in 2017. There are a number of steps you can take in the new year to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve inventory accuracy.
- Measure Critical Warehouse KPIs: Are you currently logging and managing important key performance indicator (KPI) data in your warehouse? You can’t optimize anything until you have a baseline that gives you a starting point and a reference for comparison. Establish ways to collect data on productivity, costs for shipped orders, cost per line shipped, pick times, order accuracy, and any other performance measure that might be relevant to your business. Are you experiencing a high level of errors? What are your returns costs? Once you start measuring your performance, you can share that information with employees and other stakeholders who can use it to make improvements.
- Upgrade your Kitting Strategies: You can reduce inventory handling time and make better use of storage space by using custom kitting strategies to stage items or parts that are typically used or shipped together. If your business often sends the same types of parts in predictable shipment configurations, you can save time and labor via custom kitting.
- Update your Mobile Technology: If it’s been more than five years since your last hardware refresh, your warehouse performance might receive a boost through investing in new hardware. New rugged mobile computers have easy-to-use interfaces, are more reliable, and feature ergonomic improvements that can increase efficiency. Wearable devices have also proved to be a productivity booster in operations with lots of piece picking.
- Consider a Hardware Service Plan: If you have a fleet of mobile computers and barcode printers in your warehouse, odds are you’ll eventually experience a device failure. By purchasing a service plan for your hardware through the manufacturer or value-added reseller, you can eliminate downtime and let your internal staff spend less time on barcode equipment maintenance and more time doing their jobs.
For example, Zebra Technologies’ Zebra Authorized Service Provider (ZASP) program offers access to providers have completed extensive training, and are certified to provide on-site installation, maintenance, depot repair, and technical support for the company’s barcode and mobile computing equipment.
Imprint Enterprises’ professional services division offers a number of different plans including break-fix/depot repair options and on-site service using certified technicians. Improved service/maintenance of your equipment can increase warehouse performance.
- Improve Order Release Management: Try to establish quick pick runs and improve efficiency to maximize the volume of orders you can ship accurately each day. Group like or related processes together. You can also group picks based on different characteristics to improve efficiency — you could pick by route, by customer, by product, by order value, or by date. In addition, you could stage frequently picked/shipped product closer to the shipping area to speed these processes.
- Improve Warehouse Safety: Your warehouse performance can’t improve if your injury rate is high. Institute a robust safety program along with regular training and safety meetings to address any new concerns. There should be a formal process in place to report issues. By improving safety, you can reduce lost work hours and injury claims.
Use the new year as an opportunity to improve warehouse performance and increase your profits — it’s never too early to optimize your internal operations and increase customer satisfaction.