In today’s ultra-competitive business climate, companies are constantly striving to improve their warehouse operations to gain a competitive advantage. To accomplish this, it’s essential to focus on ways to build maximum efficiency in order to reduce costs.
Picking orders is one of the most significant expenditures because it is labor intensive and has everything to do with customer satisfaction. Many companies struggle with accuracy and productivity as well as hiring (and retaining) enough skilled people to fulfill their order picking needs. Therefore, one of the most impactful changes a business can make is to automate their picking so it can be done with fewer people.
Focus in these three areas will improve warehouse efficiency in nearly every industry. Here’s how:
1. Maximize Your Warehouse Layout
It’s important to review your rack layout to ensure it’s set up to maximize the available space for storing product. Many companies use selective pallet rack with forklifts to store their products because that is what they’ve always done. There are many storage systems available today to maximize your warehousing storage needs. Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) systems, using turret trucks, order pickers and high-density rack systems like pushback racking and RadioShuttle deep lane storage can change how your entire operation functions. These systems can offer both space savings and productivity improvements as well as allowing you to move more products with fewer people.
2. Minimize Travel Time for Order Picking
Product slotting is one of the most impactful practices a business can use to improve productivity. Pareto’s Law states that 80% of a business volume is made up of 20% of their products. So it stands to reason that the high-volume 20% should be handled differently than the slowest part of your inventory.
Condensing commonly picked products to an area near the shipping docks and slotting fast-moving items lower in the racking will dramatically increase productivity. Then, reposition your slower movers or reserve stock to the upper levels. Pallet flow rack, case flow rack, pick modules and carousel systems are just a few of the storage systems that provide better storage density and greater product accessibility to allow you to pick orders productively.
3. Use Available Technology
Technology can completely change the efficiency of your warehouse – especially if your current system includes a pencil and paper. There are several options available that can have a significant impact on productivity. Raymond’s 8720 2nd Level Order picking truck allows picking not just from the floor but to the second and, in some cases, third rack levels increasing the pickable SKU’s. With their pallet trucks, Raymond’s Pick2Pallet LED system allows you to batch pick orders 25% more productively through its colored light cues working in tandem with voice picking solutions.
We know that you are looking for solutions to solve your unique business challenges and application needs. We recommend consulting with an experienced material handling professional who is familiar with the latest equipment technologies available to help devise the right plan of attack for your specific needs.