Is your warehouse optimised for purpose?
Is your warehouse optimised for purpose?

No matter how well your warehouse currently functions there are always opportunities for improvement. And, if you’re struggling with workloads or suffering repeating issues with damage or productivity, then you could have some serious problems that an optimised approach could help to address. So, what do you need to think about when you’re looking at how well optimised for purpose your warehouse is?
Walk around with your eyes open
When it comes to assessing whether your warehouse is optimised for purpose one of the fastest ways to come to a conclusion is to do a walk around. Choose one day on which to do this when the warehouse is functioning at a normal pace – or pick a few different days, such as one during peak time and one during a slower period. Look out for any very obvious problems, such as bottlenecks or staff sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Does the warehouse look like it’s operating efficiently, do staff seem clear about what they’re doing and is traffic flowing freely?
Analyse the basic data
There are lots of different ways to examine how optimised your warehouse is from the data you have. Central to this will be how your business measures up in terms of KPIs. Look out for data that indicates a sudden shift, for example a big increase in the number of returns based on wrong items or faulty or damaged goods. How does your warehouse do when it comes to timing – are shipments consistently going out on time or is there a lot of problematic lateness? Getting to grips with the most basic data that your business is generating can give you some essential insight into whether the warehouse is operating in an optimised way, as well as where changes could be made to improve systems and processes.
Look specifically at productivity and service
A lack of optimisation will directly affect productivity within your warehouse so it’s key to pay attention to this metric. How does the team do when it comes to productivity? Look at whether the same problems are arising over and over again as well as whether there are obvious issues with the picking process. For example, could you rearrange the way pallets are organised to make them more accessible? Or would the addition of a Pick To Light system make operations much more efficient and help to minimise errors and mistakes? Service is another key area to observe – are you currently receiving a lot of complaints and if so what do they relate to? Issues with timing of deliveries, poor packing, or mis-picks show that taking steps to optimise existing arrangements could help to improve service perceptions and support greater growth.
If your warehouse is not optimised for purpose then it’s likely that a quick review of systems, data and processes will make this obvious. From low productivity to repeated mistakes and errors, there are many indications that something is not quite right. Where that’s the case, investing in reorganisation as well as new technology can help to ensure that your operations are as efficient and optimised as they can be.

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