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Breaking Down Complex Warehouse Operations

Simplifying warehouse operations can save time, money, and headaches

13Oct

While it seems simple from an outsider's perspective, a warehouse can be fairly difficult to manage. An interplay of different processes and departments all work together to create a product or service to both residential and commercial customers. If one or multiple parts of this multifaceted and interwoven system breaks or goes missing, the entire business suffers and falls apart from the inside. Fortunately, a warehouse manager or business owner can run their facilities more seamlessly by breaking down complex operations into simpler, more digestible pieces. Below are five techniques for running your warehouse with minimal resistance.

Determine Business Specifics

Warehouses vary in scale and processes depending on the underlying company and its products/services. A company offering knitted handbags will have, at least, slightly different manufacturing conditions than a company that creates and assembles refrigerators and washing machines. Know what industrial conditions your product requires for it to be manufactured safely and efficiently. On the same note, every warehouse operation can be broken down into general parts or stations. While technical details vary, the principles of each process are similar and applicable to different warehouse structures.

Automate Data Collection

If your employees or, worse, your higher ups are writing information, whether as instructions to be passed on to colleagues or as records that will later be vetted for evaluation, this can be a telltale sign of both inefficiency and your company's inability to adapt to modern technology. Automate your data collection process to save time and energy. Automation can be done via barcode or radio frequency detection, both of which are equally well-established methods of data collection in industrial scales. The time of manual data entry processes is long gone. Instead, use modern technology including mobile computers with built-in readers. A few of these high-tech readers and scanners at your receiving dock can expedite the process of identifying and moving products around.

Aim to Improve Information Transparency Business-Wide

Extensive proliferation of information across warehouse and shipping facilities give your workforce the ability to share and apply the information to their specific duties and routine. Information visibility and transparency can be a simple and cost-effective means of improving your warehouse's operations. Improve your workforce's access to data via regular meetings, well-positioned bulletin boards, secure phone lines, and intercom.

Identify Warehouse Challenges

Modern technology and its far-reaching applications have opened up new opportunities for businesses and their supply chains. Shipping and handling systems are continuously evolving, but so are the market challenges that a business must wrestle with in the future. This includes increasingly complex supply chains that are requiring new training and education programs for warehouse employees. The constant pressures of cost are also leaning against warehouse operators on a daily basis, forcing them to reevaluate suitable labor and supply sources to maintain or boost their competitive edge. Identifying specific warehouse challenges allow you to plan and resolve issues accordingly before it affects your bottom line.

Organize Your Bin Locations

In layman's term, a bin location used in a warehouse context denotes an assigned inventory storage area. Products stored in a warehouse are categorized according to row and shelf. Each row and shelf level has designated bin numbers, enabling warehouse operators to find products much faster. Your inventory zones and showrooms should both use bin locations to allow for prompt and precise product location.

The complexity of any task can be overcome with the right approach. Use the five techniques aforementioned to break down complex operations and take on the expertise and suggestions of your employees, business partners, and clients. The feedback can be especially useful for tackling challenges from fresh vantage points. 

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