Our businesses are our livelihoods so it’s only natural you’ll want yours to be as productive as possible, but when you’ve got a busy warehouse to manage it can be difficult to know where to start. Whether that means training staff or implementing technology, there are plenty of changes you can make to achieve this. Here, Barry Crackett from innovative brushware manufacturer Brushtec, shares his top tips for boosting productivity in your warehouse.
Owning a business can be both exciting and stressful in equal measure, especially when you are in charge of a busy warehouse full of staff, equipment and goods. But, with so much going on, it’s important that you are frequently analysing and taking steps to improve the efficiency of your operations.
Whether you think your warehouse could benefit from a change in layout, your staff need more training, or you need to automate some of your processes, there is sure to be a change that will make a big difference to you. Here, I will be sharing some of the best ways you can give your warehouse a productivity boost.
Change your warehouse layout
Your warehouse is likely to be a high-traffic zone, so it’s important that the people coming in and out can do so quickly to ensure they are as productive as possible. One simple way of doing this is to open up as much floor space as possible, as this will mean your workers can easily find their way around and do so in a more timely manner, so they can get more things done with their day.
Warehouses are typically used to store high volumes of goods, but not having these adequately stored can lead to issues including higher operating costs and more people off sick as a result of injuries from these poorly stored items. This means it’s a good idea to reconsider the way you store your goods and maximising your vertical space can help with this. This could include incorporating more racking, using stackable boxes or designating a larger area of space for your goods storage.
Similarly, it might be worth taking a look at the space assigned to each part of the process. For example, is there limited space for your production team to work and excess space near the packaging team? If so, these can be adjusted accordingly to ensure everybody has enough space to do the job they’re assigned.
Offer additional training to your staff
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, it’s a legal requirement that employers provide instruction, training and supervision as necessary to ensure that all of their workers are safe from risks and know how to control any they do come across. But, it’s important that these are frequently revisited or highlighted, especially if there are any areas in which you feel your staff could be doing better.
For example, if they aren’t getting enough units out of the door in a day, it may be worth retraining them on the machinery they’re using to ensure they’re able to be as productive as possible. Similarly, the addition of any new machinery, equipment or procedures warrants a need to train your staff again, so make sure you’re doing this.
Traditionally, it’s not been as easy to train staff on particularly dangerous aspects, as exposing them to these hazards could cause them harm and also may not be possible to recreate. But, with technology advancements like virtual and augmented reality headsets, you can give your employees simulated versions of these circumstances, so they know what to do if these do arise.
Automate timely processes
Warehouse automation is already rapidly progressing with figures from Tractica forecasting warehousing and logistics robot shipments will reach 620,000 units annually by 2021, compared to the 40,000 sent out in 2016. And, although some procedures will be better done by hand, there are plenty of processes which can be automated to ensure you’re hitting your volume targets and freeing up staff to do manual tasks.
This could be something as simple as adding machinery that will help you to keep count of your goods so you have a better inventory management process, which would otherwise can take a long time if it’s a worker’s job to keep count of your stock.
If you’ve been finding there have been problems with quality control, or you want to ensure there isn’t any in future, automating this part of your operations can help. An inspection machine is likely to be more consistent with quality than your staff can be due to human error, and it will be able to do this faster, too.
Although this machinery is likely to have a high price tag, they will work to keep your other costs down so that you can save money in the long run through optimising your efficiency and improving the overall productivity of your warehouse.
Create organised workstations
Your employees’ workstations are where they’ll spend most of their working day, so it’s important that these are organised and fit for purpose. If they aren’t, it can result in musculoskeletal disorders which can raise the number of absences, lowering the overall productivity. In fact, statistics revealed that there were 469,000 workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, with a total of 6.6. million working days lost to these in 2017/2018 (HSE). With these alarming figures in mind, it’s clear that we can all be doing something to improve the working conditions of our employees.
Having organised workstations can prevent your workers from wasting time trying to find things, but also from injury. This could include having set storage for any tools they use daily or that they’ll need for specific tasks. Additionally, if their roles includes sitting down for periods of time, for example during quality checks, having chairs and desks that have been adjusted to their individual height and preferences will reduce the likelihood of them developing musculoskeletal disorders — plus it will be particularly handy when your workforce changes.
Ensure your warehouse is as efficient and productive as possible by taking my above suggestions on board. Whether your staff need additional training or your layout could do with a reshuffle, you’re sure to see positive changes when you implement these measures.