10 tips to improve your warehouse operations and deliveries.
Saving time, increasing productivity and improving efficiency: improving warehouse management is a key factor for companies in their race for performance. The continuous growth of e-commerce and the increasing number of orders to be shipped each day call for optimal management of the supply chain, from procurement to delivery of goods.
Follow our 10 tips to improve your warehouse management.
1 - Choosing the right logistics strategy for your needs
Smaller warehouses that ship 50 orders a day do not follow the same strategy as a warehouse that has to deal with more than 1,000 daily shipments.
Identify your needs, evaluate your warehouse and the number of orders leaving it before establishing your logistics strategy. You can then choose between :
Small logistics: for 50 orders per day, in a 500 m2 warehouse with a team of 5 people, the organisation does not require any particular strategy. Picking is done to order and the team members can fulfil the different roles;
Structured logistics: beyond 50 orders per day, the warehouse must become more professional. Addressing must be rigorous, picking must be done by order batch, and each team member must be assigned a specific task;
Industrialised logistics: above 1,000 orders per day, the warehouse must be automated to increase the rate of production. The logistics director then has a WMS (Warehouse Management System) installed to optimise order processing and physical flows in the warehouse;
Logistics outsourcing: a last option, practical but costly, which consists of outsourcing one's activity to a specialised logistics provider, capable of dealing with significant peaks in activity.
2 - Improving the working environment
Improving the working environment of your employees allows you to :
Limiting unnecessary movements: by optimising the addressing of products on the shelves to facilitate logistical picking paths;
Limit the carrying of heavy loads: by equipping your warehouse with conveyors, forklifts or pallet trucks. This will avoid the risk of accidents at work and take a lot of the strain off your employees.
Investing in quality equipment is also an important option for improving the working environment: a high-performance WMS, barcode scanners, screens, etc., will make life easier for team members and reduce the rate of logistics errors.
3 - Structure and order the warehouse space
Good use of space is essential to avoid turning your warehouse into a "battlefield".
To structure the space, you can :
Establish a numbering system for all products, known as addressing, and establish logistical routes that will lead quickly to the desired product;
Delineate storage and work areas: overstock areas, warehouse areas, order preparation areas, arrival and dispatch areas, conveyor areas, etc.
4 - Specialising tasks for optimised warehouse management
The more professional the warehouse becomes, the more precise the tasks of the team members become. And the better the employees' knowledge of their tasks, the faster they move.
To distribute the tasks of each person, distribute them to the different areas of the warehouse: picking, order preparation, arrival, dispatch, packing, franking, etc.
5 - Establish a high turnover stock area
In any warehouse there are products with a high turnover, those that are most ordered and therefore requested by the team members.
It is therefore recommended for good warehouse management to create a special stock area for these products, a "shop" close to the arrival area and the packing/shipping area. This will not only improve your stock management, but also the flow management in the warehouse.
6 - Organising products in a logistics class
To improve the management of your warehouse, consider classifying your goods according to their specificities:
Heavy or bulky products (which require dedicated and technical handling).
Customisable products (which move from the storage area to the manufacturing area to the packaging area)...
This organisation will save you time in your logistical flows (receiving orders, picking, sending orders).
7 - Use the cross-docking technique
The aim of this supply chain management technique is to reduce product movements and improve team productivity: in concrete terms, it consists of moving goods from arrival to departure without passing through the warehouse.
Cross-docking works, for example, for the dispatch of backorders: on delivery from the supplier, the goods can be sent directly to the dispatch area. This reduces delays and travel time. This increases your operational efficiency!
8 - Focus on the preparation of similar products
These preparations are very important and save picking time: if the analysis of the orders reveals the presence of the same product, you will gain by preparing them at the same time and avoiding picking trips.
9 - Automate the management of stock shortages
Managing stock-outs is a constant logistical headache: in addition to causing disruptions in the supply chain, stock-outs generate customer dissatisfaction.
When this happens, you can trigger an automated procedure with the service and sales teams. The most common method is to send an automatic e-mail to notify you when the product in question is due to be restocked.
10 - Carry out quality controls to avoid errors
Errors in orders are generally not appreciated by customers. The challenge of good logistics management is therefore to avoid them as much as possible.
Thanks to quality control, orders are checked at every important stage of the logistical process: arrival of products in storage, picking, packing, shipping.
This can be done more quickly with a scan that checks the number and accuracy of products at the time of packing.
By following these tips, you can quickly improve the logistics management of your warehouse and gain in performance.
In addition, you should not neglect the choice of the right carriers, capable of offering a fine traceability of your parcels, until its final delivery.
Conclusion: the three key points to remember for better warehouse management
Organisation is the key word in logistics warehouse management: a warehouse structured according to the real needs of the company, specialisation of tasks, quality addressing will save time and efficiency.
The working environment should be as pleasant and safe as possible to protect the health of your employees.
Simple tricks, such as high turnover zones, cross-docking, automated out-of-stock management, allow for a better logistic management of the warehouse and storage in the long term.