Essential Warehouse Components

Over the past 30 years, the role and meaning of the warehouse has changed significantly. Greater emphasis is now being placed on customer satisfaction, retention, and the need to modernise the warehousing operation.

Many companies have started viewing their warehousing operations not as a direct expense but as a significant profit centre. With the right management, this will significantly contribute to the welfare of their business.

Innovative technologies have started improving warehouse management system applications. Some applications are voice technology, pick-to-light, automated storage and retrieval systems, and pick-and-go-order selection. There are more widely used applications like radio frequency identification, automated material handling equipment, and bar-coding.

When people consider optimising warehousing operations, a significant percentage of them have the tendency to make decisions towards upgrading of existing equipment and applications. They tend to overlook a number of essential components that will affect the operations of any warehouse, if appropriate and frequent attention is not accessible.

Six major neglected components:

Training and procedures,

Rules and regulations,

Tools,

Housekeeping and safety,

Identification, and

Paper work.

1. Training and Procedures

It is relatively inexpensive yet it will have a significant impact and greater return on investment in your warehouse operation. To do so, the warehouse manager must insist on the proper implementation of procedure manual creation and frequent training. Warehouse operations that lack up-to-date manuals and training plans are likely to suffer from low productivity, potential safety issues, and lack of control.

The only way forward is to document all warehousing activities into easy-to-follow procedures and implement a compatible training programme that will match the department’s operational needs.

This is important for business development and progression of employees.

2. Rules and Regulations

Managers should communicate with their staff on how they should be doing their jobs. They must be prepared to exhibit to staff the correct way of completing jobs in the working environment. Never assume that staff can handle the assigned task. Managers must double-check to ensure that they can correctly deliver it.

Extra support has to be given to new staff, as they need time to familiarise themselves with the new environment and company policies. An easy way to enhance the understanding of rules and regulations is to create posters and place them clearly on visible locations within operating areas.

3. Tools

Managers must ensure that their employees have the right tools readily available to perform their tasks. This will definitely have a significant impact on business. According to the writer, not only are the right tools important but quality tools are just as essential.

Tools are recorded into three main sectors:

Warehouse tools (Forklifts, racks, dock levellers, and black boards),

Cleaning supplies (Brooms, dustpans, and dust bins), and

Safety items (Face masks, hand gloves, earplugs, and hard hats).

Proper maintenance schedule for all equipment is important for productivity and safety.

4. Housekeeping and Safety

Good housekeeping practices will result in improvements in safety, productivity, and morale. Implementing specific cleaning schedules will ensure a clean and safe working environment.

Floors must be kept clean—swept at least once a day, spills must be cleared quickly, and debris should be picked up immediately. Aisles, exits, and doorways must be kept clear at all times and clearly marked. Employees must be aware of all exits from buildings and stores in case of an emergency. Outlets, plugs, cords, circuit breakers, and light bulbs should always be in good working order.

Fumigation

Quarterly fumigation should be observed at all times and must be conducted by registered applicators. The goal of fumigation is to maintain a toxic concentration of gas to kill the target pest population. Upon completion, a certificate stating all types of chemicals used should be issued to the company and kept for safe-keeping. These certificates must be ready for inspection by authorities.

Pallets

All stock keeping units must be placed on pallets or racks. Staff should never stack products directly on the warehouse floor—to avoid product damage from potential spillages or leaks from the roof.

Stacking and Storage

Products can be stacked in a warehouse with the use of cartons, crates, flat sheets, and coils. The shape of a stack depends on the storage space available. Stacks can be arranged in a column, square, pyramid, or triangular forms. The aim is to prevent cross contamination.  For example, detergents must be stored away from foodstuff and sweets. Electronic appliances must be stored away from cartons of hard soaps because of moisture issues.

First-In-First-Out (FIFO)

Proper application of the FIFO method will ensure optimum movement and accurate handling of all goods in any warehouse. It will safeguard businesses from ending up with expired products.

Damages

All damaged and rejected goods must be isolated and kept in a separate location within the warehouse area. Staff must ensure proper documentation of such goods and keep them separated from the rest. 

Medical Fitness Test for Store Handlers

A medical fitness certificate issued by a recognised hospital or clinic must be obtained for all warehouse staff. This will certify them as being fit to handle any food or pharmaceutical products in their stores.

5. Identification

The warehouse manager has to ensure clear identification of all stored products and locations in the warehouse. This will assist the order picking, as well as the loading and unloading of goods, and ensure accurate progression.

Use clearly readable labels on pallets or bulk stacks of cartons,

Mark floors to designate floor storage assigned areas,

Use signs to identify aisles,

Use clearly marked storage space to place all material handling equipment when not in use, and

All depot-inbound stock keeping units must have identification tags.

6. Paper Work

Create easy ways for required documents such as customer invoices, delivery notes, and orders to be stored electronically and manually. Maintain a proper filling system in each store to ensure accuracy. This will ensure continuity at all times.

In reality, the six components represent important but neglected components in any warehouse. Go ahead, give them a try, and talk to your people about what it is required and make all necessary changes to ensure an efficient and effective warehousing environment.

Warehouse & Distribution KPI’s

A logistics KPI or metric is a performance measurement that is used by logistics managers to track, visualize and optimize all relevant logistic processes in an efficient and transparent way. Among others, these measurements refer to transportation, warehouse and supply chain aspects.

“you cannot improve what you do not measure”

Here is the complete list of the most important logistics KPIs and metrics.

Shipping Time: Spot potential issues in your order fulfilment process

Order Accuracy: Monitor the degree of incidents

Delivery Time: Track your average delivery time in detail

Transportation Costs: Analyse all costs from the order placement to delivery

Warehousing Costs: Optimize the expenses of your warehouse

Number of Shipments: Understand how many orders are shipped

Inventory Accuracy: Avoid problems because of inaccurate inventory

Inventory Turnover: Track how many times your entire inventory is sold

Inventory to Sales Ratio: Identify a potential overstock

Ways to Improve Warehouse Layout Efficiency and Save Costs

One element of warehousing that can have a negative impact on supply chain costs is the way in which the space is set out and utilized. How many of the following four inefficiencies do you recognise within your company’s warehouse layout? If you can identify with one or more of them, you’ll find a tip or two here to help remedy the situation and improve warehouse layout efficiency.

#1: Receiving department

The goods receiving area of your warehouse is generally a hive of activity, which all too often is crammed into an inadequate space for the purpose.

While it may seem counterintuitive to give up floor and racking space to expand the goods-in section of your warehouse, releasing a larger floor area here can often lead to greater overall warehouse layout efficiency—and therefore reduced operating costs.

#2  Pickers

Time is money and distance is time.

If you are at all familiar with lean supply chain practices, you will know that transport and motion are two of the seven wastes to be minimised or eliminated in a warehouse. A great deal of excess motion and transport are generated by poorly laid out pick faces, through which warehouse operatives must back-track and meander while assembling orders or truckloads.

Unfortunately, even when warehouses start out with a logical and efficient picking route, the addition, removal and changes in turnover of product lines often result in these routes being undone over time.

Reviewing your pick paths from time to time and making the effort to rearrange storage locations can pay off by improving picking efficiency and keeping labour-related costs down.

#3: Pick it Up – Put it Down … Again

Every time your warehouse team members pick up an item from your inventory, it costs money for your operation.

If you find that you have product lines which are put away in bulk storage areas and then frequently moved to replenish picking locations, consider putting them on the floor instead and picking directly from this floor stock.

This is just one example, but the golden rule is, reduce the amount of times that any inventory item is touched, between receiving and dispatching.

#4: Pick face layout

A vast warehouse with rows of racking marching into the distance might look impressive, but such a set-up is likely to murder your warehouse layout efficiency. Make it easier for operatives to move around your warehouse by creating plenty of cross-aisles. A top-down view of your warehouse should look more like city blocks than a 10 lane superhighway. While the four sources of inefficiency and cost described here might seem like common sense, time has a way of eroding the good work done in initial warehouse layout planning.