A company’s logistics performance is key to distribution success. A well-functioning warehouse is one that efficiently receives and stores stock, picks and packs it speedily and accurately, and then distributes it to customers quickly.
But how can you make your warehouse operations more efficient so that you can improve your logistics performance, and in turn increase your profits?
Here are five ways you can increase productivity and enhance warehouse operations to improve your logistics performance.
1. Optimise your warehouse layout
Having the optimal warehouse layout for your operation is key to maximising productivity. You need your products to be located in the best positions, so that the general flow through the warehouse is unproblematic. Business intelligence is vital for discovering which products are selling well. Fast-moving stock needs to be quickly accessible so that operatives aren’t spending too much time traversing the warehouse.
A warehouse must react to changes in sales velocity. If products become more popular, of if they are seasonal, then a flexible strategy needs to be adopted so that products can be moved in and out of the prime picking positions as needed. There are many strategies that can be employed: looking at slotting can identify which product lines should be placed where in your warehouse, and cross-docking can be employed for fast-moving items.
2. Choose the best picking strategy for your operation
The faster your employees pick orders, the better. So it’s essential that you choose the right picking strategy for your warehouse.
There are many methods to choose from. Driven by your warehouse management system (WMS), task interleaving is an advanced strategy that can combine multiple tasks on one trip through the warehouse.
Other ways of maximising operatives’ picking time include wave picking, batch picking and zone picking. In general, batch picking is good for warehouses stocking small items; wave picking is efficient for companies with a larger number of SKUs and zone picking is effective for larger operations.
Another way to ensure that you more orders get out of the door on time is whether you choose a picker to goods or goods to picker approach.
3. Employ technology and robotics
Technology and robotics can automate and speed up processes within the warehouse.
It might be that you consider employing voice picking, where hands-free operation allows workers to be more productive. Rather than checking picking notes or manually checking off items as they are picked, voice control can direct operatives to pick and there’s no need for clipboards or handheld scanners.
Or it could be that your strategy is to automate much more than this. Labour-saving robots can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without lighting, heating or stopping for tea breaks. You don’t’ need to fully automate a warehouse though. Robots can undertake tasks like transporting shelves or bins to pickers. Or they can take replenishment stock to operatives for putaway.
Other technology like WMS, transport management (TMS), and multi-carrier management – all integrated into a single platform – can enhance warehouse processes. They also allow you to have full visibility of your warehouse operations so that you can measure logistics performance.
4. Use stock planning and forecasting software
Balancing varying demands in the warehouse can be tricky. Having the right amount of stock is vital to ensure customer demand is met, but that not too much money is held up in slower-moving stock.
Planning, forecasting, replenishment and optimisation of stock can even be automated, with software such as Valogix. It can improve item availability, reduce stock-holding, minimise out of stock situations and even bring an increase in sales.
5. Set and measure KPIs
Of course, no attempt to improve efficiency and logistics performance can be achieved without measuring what you’re doing. You need to be able to assess your performance, set targets for improvement and then measure how you’re faring as you go on.
We recommend that warehouses track 7 core KPIs. Together, these give a holistic view of logistics performance and allow distributors to continually monitor and improve.
To improve your logistics performance, Balloon One has a number of products and services that will help get you on your way to optimal warehouse efficiency: KPI audits, software to manage the entire supply chain process, and even hardware recommendations. Call us on 020 8819 9071 or get in touch for more information.