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There’s no doubt about it: warehousing is much more complicated than it used to be. Increased consumer demand alongside services that guarantee next-day or even same-day shipping has raised the bar and forced those who were resistant to change to make some important decisions about how to tailor their processes to remain a competitive force in the industry.
However, big changes come with equally as large hurdles. The following is a list of 6 common warehousing mistakes that can be easily avoided with some careful planning and a few preventative measures.
Even knowing that these pain points exist gives you a head start in the right direction...
One of the simplest, but most ubiquitous mistakes made in warehousing also happens to be one of the simplest ones. This is the issue of keeping inaccurate inventory records.
In this day and age, the easiest way to address and prevent this issue is to utilize current technology. A good Warehouse Management System or WMS is one of the best ways to maintain accurate inventory records. In fact, with the volume of products and the speed at which said products need to be moved, it can be nearly impossible to maintain accurate inventory records without the use of such a platform.
If you want to get your warehouse operations up to par, we recommend you start here. The key to a fully optimized warehouse is a solid foundation.
As uncertain as the process may feel at times, planning for the future is essential to a successful warehouse. If you don’t plan for the future based on projected growth rates, your business will not be able to survive. Hiring a consultant to help you determine the path your business will need to follow is a great way to avoid being surprised when the future growth predictions for your industry actually come to fruition.
And that is just scratching the surface. Proper planning can also help you to more easily navigate more unexpected circumstances such as widespread industry changes or massively shifting consumer demands.
There is nothing fun about not having the foresight to prepare for a massive pivot in your industry. This can, of course, happen at any time but it is something that the COVID pandemic highlighted for many industries as a potential problem that could easily stem from an outside influence as well.
When poor planning happens at the warehousing level, it can quickly have a detrimental impact on the course of your business or affect the entire supply chain. And while not all situations or events can be foreseen or even prevented, knowing that something could potentially force a large change to your warehouse can still help you equip yourself to navigate it should the need arise.
Safety procedures are in place for a reason. Injured workers are going to be slower, unhappier, and potentially a liability to your business. While it can be tempting to cut a few commonly cut corners in favor of short-term reward, it is never a wise idea.
This is one of those issues that shouldn't need any addressing, but safety guidelines not being enforced as they should is actually a rather large problem in the warehousing industry.
Train your employees on proper safety procedures and then monitor staff adherence to them. To increase the incentive to play strictly by the book, recognizing exemplary employees and even possibly establishing a reward system for this are great ways to increase safety awareness.
Leading in from our previous point regarding safety procedures, let's talk about warehouse staff training...
The vast majority of us want to grow in our careers, develop new skills, and refine our existing abilities. If your employees feel that they aren’t being provided with ample opportunities for growth, you will find that staff turnover will be higher, and much more time and energy will be devoted to training new employees in the end anyway.
By providing your employees with solid training in their field alongside development opportunities for those who excel in their training modules, you will increase productivity in your warehouse. This is simple, yet wise advice for literally any company operating in any industry.
When you equip your staff with the necessary knowledge to perform their job efficiently and you recognize that periodically with the chance for advancement in the company, they feel heard and supported.
Plain and simple: support your staff and they will support you.
Technology is the future.
This statement is as true today as it was 10 years ago, and it will still be true 10 years from now. You don’t have to change everything you do, but utilizing technology to automate certain processes is essential to remaining competitive in an ever-evolving technological world.
When we talk about automation in regard to warehousing, a lot of benefits are immediately clear. From things such as Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to more recent developments such as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), it is abundantly clear that automation is the future of warehousing.
This doesn't mean that robots will replace human workers, quite the contrary. While these pieces of technology certainly can help a warehouse run more efficiently, they are going to require human operators to program them, maintain them and work alongside them.
With more and more warehouses turning to automation tech, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not exploring your options.
Pieces of equipment laying around out of place, layers of dust, and busted lights are all tell-tale signs of a warehouse that is headed for disaster. Injuries and a general sense of employee dissatisfaction are much more likely to occur in an untidy facility.
How can you operate a streamlined warehouse complete with a picking layout if everything is disorganized, pathways are obstructed and your staff is wary of dangerous work conditions?
Luckily, an easy way to correct this issue and ease warehouse congestion is to implement a cleaning schedule at some point during employee shifts. This could even be built into the employee training modules we previously discussed. Just a few minutes a few times per day followed up with larger end-of-shift cleaning sessions can help ensure that your warehouse remains clutter-free, organized, and runs as quickly as possible.
Mistakes are bound to happen to any business. But when mistakes happen in warehouses, the impact it can have across an entire supply chain can be devastating.
Luckily, with some extra effort, well-rounded training, and adherence to proper safety protocols, alongside the use of technology; these mistakes can largely be avoided and/or quickly addressed in order to keep operations running smoothly in your warehouse.