You work in the warehousing industry long enough, you start to realize everyone has an opinion on something.

Some people advocate automating everything, someone then tells you to avoid over-reliance on technology, some places have suggestions for how to handle supply chains, someone else tells you to leave it as it is…it can get a little overwhelming at times, and you might find yourself at a loss for what to do.

And the thing of it is, there’s really no one answer for everyone. Not every warehouse can work with every single solution, and not every suggestion is going to solve every single problem.

There are, however, a few things that nearly every warehouse can work on to improve processes and efficiency, and these things have been pretty well-worn and time-tested over the decades. Here’s a few more traditional methods of warehouse optimization that we think can still help modern warehouses:

Analyze Picking Methods

Any warehouse, no matter how big or how small, can always use a little help when it comes to optimizing their picking methods for peak efficiency. Picking methods could be an entire blog post on their own, but if you think your picking strategies are causing a bottleneck in productivity for the rest of the warehouse, here’s a few things to consider:

  • Are your workstations ergonomic? Is your warehouse shelving set up in a way that workers can get to it easily, or does it require extra work and cause extra strain?
  • What sort of picking method do you use currently: zone, batch, or wave? Are you aware of the differences – and if so, is there one that could work better for your current warehouse?
  • How many ‘touches’ does your item get? Are there huge bottlenecks during the shipping process because there’s too many cooks in the kitchen?

Asking yourself these and other, similar questions will help you get a handle on how your picking methods are working.

Analyze Storage Strategies

In a similar vein, no matter how fast your picking methods are, you also need to take a look at your storage strategies and see if your space can be used better. Review the current storage you use (wire shelving, pallet racks, etc) to see if you can switch to a slightly different storage method like slotting or FIFO to make sure the products are moving as quickly as they need to, and to prevent damage from incorrectly stored cartons.

Continually Review Processes

Anything in your warehouse, no matter how time-honored, can stand to be reviewed every now and again to make sure it’s working as effectively as possible. With a little practice (and a lot of time), companies can learn internally how to identify new opportunities for improvement. And don’t make it a matter of pride – if you tried something that wasn’t working, imagine how great it will be when you refine your processes into something even better.

Reward Your Employees

In a similar vein, if your employees are working hard, contributing ideas, and making the whole warehouse easier to work in, they deserve a little something for their efforts. Create a bonus program, thank and congratulate workers publicly for their efforts for for special ideas/contributions, and constantly motivate them with rewards like additional time off. Happy workers will result in a happier, more motivated, and even safer and more careful workforce – and everyone can benefit from that.

Got any other ‘old school’ ideas for optimizing a warehouse? Drop a comment below!

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