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There are many critical parts of operations and ways to manage each of them more efficiently with the help of technology. This guest blog dives into warehouse operations and explores ways to be more effective with your warehouse organization.

Warehouse operations are critical for many companies. When warehouse operations are efficient, organizations keep their costs low and customers happy. When they’re not, companies won’t be able to ship or receive inventory in time, workers are not as productive as possible, and businesses can lose profits and credibility. For this reason, professionals involved in your company’s warehouse operations must know exactly how to keep operations running smoothly.

With the right mix of the following best practices and company-specific plans, your business can maximize warehouse operations.

Reassess your warehouse floor plan

In order to effectively streamline operations, you must first evaluate your warehouse’s floor plan. In order to create and maintain a smooth workflow, shelves, tools, equipment, workbenches, tables and other necessary equipment must be logically placed for immediate access by warehouse staff. Rather than obstructing or getting in the way of daily tasks, a warehouse’s physical layout should promote efficiency. 

The ideal warehouse layout should maximize available space, minimize handling of goods, enable easy access to goods, allow storage flexibility and allow for adequate working space. Be sure to design your warehouse’s floor plan according to your company’s specific needs. Here are a few warehouse organization templates you can use as a starting point. 

Maintain real-time supply chain visibility & management

Having an accurate and up-to-date look into your warehouse’s supply chain is vital in order to ensure all processes are running efficiently. Utilizing digital technology can take the guesswork out of warehouse management. Warehouse professionals should collect as much data on their products as possible, including where they’re coming from, when they arrive, what condition they are in, where they’re going, and when they’re set to leave.

Whether it’s coordinating activities with suppliers, forecasting incoming orders or staying on top of production progress, a supply chain management solution can be a helpful tool to improve visibility into internal operations, as well as those involving trading partners. Supply chain management solutions also enable warehouse professionals to detect, analyze and resolve any potential disruptions that, without early identification and action, can hinder efficiency. These disruptions might include inventory shortages, delivery delays and other potential problems that might impact future outcomes.

Implement sustainable practices

Warehouses go through a lot of material in a single day — whether it be excess boxes, pallet wrap, excess materials leftover from finished projects or other items that have been discarded from shipments. These items must be recycled wherever possible, and it should be a priority to do an audit of the materials used on a day-to-day basis to see what is not necessary.

Many companies, especially those with e-commerce operations, have problems with improper packaging for items, with oversized boxes and excessive amounts of plastic being commonly cited concerns. Ensure that you’re not using too much packaging and you’ll reap the benefits both in positive responses from customers and increased harmony with the environment.

In addition to sustainably sourcing and responsibly using materials, emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things and predictive analytics have helped to create smarter and more efficient warehouses. For example, smart energy management systems can gather detailed information on your current utility spend to identify possible billing errors, streamline your billing, and double-check meter readers. With this enhanced visibility, warehouse professionals can uncover opportunities for improvement and can gain a deeper understanding of their facility’s energy consumption. In turn, this can help reduce energy and utility costs.

Establish & follow safety standards & procedures

A safer warehouse is also a more productive warehouse. However, according to EHS Today, the injury rate for today’s warehouse workers is 5.1 per 100 full-time workers. The same article states that, “warehouse workers everywhere will be at a higher risk for injury in 2020 as companies struggle to implement safety protocols that match the pace of modernization.”

Warehouse professionals must create a culture of safety, which requires consistent attention and regulation. Be sure that safety equipment is used at all times. For example, forklifts or hydraulic dollies should be used to lift items that are too heavy, appropriate eyewear and hard hats should always be worn when required, employees should be aware of all emergency exits, and sprinklers installed on the roof should not be blocked at any time.

A few simple steps can make all the difference in improving and streamlining warehouse operations. Follow these simple steps and watch your efficiency soar.

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