In warehouses, productivity is king. Each step of each process can– and should– be broken down and measured to ensure that every client gets the most of his or her investment, customers are happy with products and warehouse staff are reaching their full potential. In the increasingly analytical, technical world of today, any company not hitting all cylinders will soon be left behind for a more efficient alternative.
With the prevalence of eCommerce and an increasingly competitive logistics community, warehouses are becoming more important than ever. The most innovative warehouse managers are usually the ones who benefit most from this, as they are willing to embrace change and take full advantage of new opportunities. Automation, warehouse management systems, mobile workstations, a GPS tracker and sophisticated scanning equipment are all signs of the direction in which our industry is headed, and it is important to be prepared for what is next.
While no one can read the tea leaves to find out exactly where the industry is headed, there are some proven techniques that can help any warehouse manager be more productive and better prepared for the future. The following tips combine some of the tried and true techniques that have helped warehouses thrive in the past with more advanced concepts of our modern digital world.
1. Establish Clear Goals
Analytics and accurate measurements of productivity are obviously crucial to an efficient warehouse, but they are useless if they do not clearly impact what you hope to achieve. KPI’s could be different from business to business, and it is important to set clear and concise goals before you start determining them. Once you have established what goals will help your warehouse reach its maximum potential, decide which key metrics you will measure performance by, what is your baseline for these metrics and what your target is.
2. Be Flexible
The best warehouses are the ones that are willing to embrace new concepts, strategies and technologies. Those who are content with the status quo will quickly find themselves left in the dust of this increasingly fast paced industry. An effective modern warehouse manager will not only embrace current concepts, but be constantly looking for new ideas and techniques that could put him or her ahead of the competition.
3. Listen and Communicate
There is no one who understands more about warehouse productivity than the actual warehouse staff. You should ask your employees to start thinking about how work could be more efficient and have regular meetings where their ideas can be heard. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge from those who are experts in the field, employees will be much more excited about working on processes to which they have contributed.
4. Build a Culture of Productivity
The culture you establish will determine every aspect of how your company performs, and you should seek a warehouse culture that is interesting, creative and fun. In addition to asking your employees for new ideas, create additional ways for them to be engaged in their work. Monthly competitions, company events and other concepts that create a more interesting and fun environment will only have a positive impact on your warehouse.
5. See the Big Picture
Do not go overboard with micro-managing every department and allowing goals to be set for receiving that do not help– or could possibly even hurt– picking or shipping. You want to set individual performance metrics for each branch of the business to run at peak performance, but you need to take a holistic approach and ensure that all aspects of the warehouse are smoothly flowing towards your overall goals.