Reorganizing Your Warehouse for Efficiency

Warehouse efficiency is critical in the material handling industry. A great layout goes a long way towards improving your business functions and optimizing efficiency. If you’re looking to upgrade your warehouse system, we have a few helpful tips for you.

Apply Warehouse Standards First

When planning a new warehouse layout, there are several things to keep in mind. First, what are your goals and objectives for the new warehouse design? Are you trying to reduce your warehousing costs? Increase your picking ability? These objectives should be determined prior to designing your warehouse so your layout is as effective as possible and helps you meet your bottom line.
When designing your warehouse, make sure that first and foremost, you’re meeting warehouse standards. All warehouses must adhere to the local fire code, have the proper docking doors and equipment, and keep areas clear. In addition to these standards, make sure you have the warehouse specifications handy so you can see if there are any exterior features that could affect your operations, and figure out how to shape your layout so these features don’t slow your operations down.
Along with your new warehouse design, you should also have an implementation plan laid out. This plan should have as much detail as possible pertaining to how the new warehouse layout will be applied and when. Leaving some cushion in this plan allows for adjustments throughout the process in case there are any roadblocks as you implement your new warehouse layout.

Your Warehouse Layout is Important

In the grand scheme of things, the layout of your warehouse may seem like a trivial thing to concern yourself with, but it can affect the success of your entire business. A warehouse with a proper layout design is an integral part of its success or failure. When it comes to your layout, remember to utilize the 80-20 rule as it applies to your business. Many companies find themselves selling large quantities of only a few different products. If you’re one of these businesses, you can cut picking time dramatically by grouping your best-selling products together. Placing these fast-selling SKUs in the “wheelhouse” area, otherwise known as waist-to-shoulder height, of the storage system will improve order picker ergonomics and efficiency.

Automation is Your Friend

If you want to cut picking travel time even more, consider automated products, like conveyors and multi-level pick towers. These innovative machines can drastically reduce the amount of time order pickers spend moving products or walking around the warehouse.

Explore Your Technology Options

The best way to save time – and, therefore, increase efficiency – on the distribution center floor is to implement software that will sequence orders for you. This software will optimize sequence performance by analyzing pick path and putting together single lines, same-zone orders, and difficult picks. Be sure to explore other technology options too. Bar codes, radio frequency, pick-to-label, pick-to-light, and voice activation will almost always increase warehouse efficiency.

Change Your Layout Regularly

Most of all, remember that your warehouse layout needs to be reviewed at least once a year. Product popularity changes with the seasons, so your warehouse will likely need to be re-slotted to ensure that your fastest-moving SKUs are in optimal locations.

Reorganizing your existing warehouse layout may seem like a daunting and expensive venture, but in the long run, it’s more than worth it. When you increase your efficiency, your entire business will feel the positive effects. Not sure where to start? The experts at Naumann/Hobbs are ready to help you maximize your warehouse efficiency. Give us a call at (866) 266-2244.