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Tips for Improving Warehouse Efficiency

Tips for Improving Warehouse Efficiency

An efficient warehouse makes a big impact on profit. Successful business owners understand the importance of efficiency and productivity, and they know that getting ahead is not just about selling as many products or services as possible. For example, according to a global survey conducted by Forbes Insights and ASQ, businesses who focus on promoting quality, growth and improved performance enjoy:

  • Thirty-three percent greater customer satisfaction
  • Twenty-nine percent increased profitability and revenue growth
  • Twenty-three percent increase in employee productivity

How can a warehouse increase productivity and enjoy higher profits? Efficiency is about maximizing productivity while minimizing wasted time and effort. When productivity is high, customers get their products on time, and business owners spend less money on wasted energy. After all, time is money. With careful planning and the will to adapt to change, you can boost warehouse productivity to new levels that will benefit workers, customers and the company as a whole.

The Importance of an Efficient Warehouse

Imagine a warehouse that has slippery plastic wrap all over the floors, disorganized bins and cluttered aisles too narrow for workers to share. In such a situation, workers are likely to spend a large portion of their shift searching through the mess and avoiding accidents. In other words, this does not paint a pretty picture of success. An inefficient warehouse may continuously experience:

  • Inaccurate inventory: Without a solid inventory tracking system in place, warehouses run the risk of overstocking or running out of products. Customers might cancel orders if they cannot receive items on time. Likewise, they will not hesitate to turn elsewhere to get the products they need.
  • Disorganized layout: If a warehouse is not designed to promote productivity, pickers will need to spend time searching for items, slowing down the entire process. Workers should not have to travel to unnecessary lengths to reach their products.
  • Workplace injuries: A warehouse that is messy and cluttered increases the risk of falls or other workplaces injuries. In 2016, over 200,000 workplace injuries in the transportation and warehouse industries occurred according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). All measures should be taken to avoid costly injuries. If workers are rushing around trying to get their job done, they might not put safety first.
  • Equipment failure: Equipment should do the work for you. If equipment is not up to par or well-maintained, the risk of injury and inefficiency is high. Also, when equipment fails, employees are forced to stop working, and downtime is costly. Consider that just one minute of downtime could cost thousands of dollars. For example, one minute of unexpected stoppage costs the auto industry over $20,000.
  • High-turnover rate: An inefficient warehouse makes employees feel unappreciated, and they are required to work harder without fair compensation. Inefficiency might prompt employees to quit. When employees quit, employers pay the price. For example, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it costs companies an average of $4,129 to hire a new employee.
Cluttered Warehouses Increase Risk of Worker Injury

On the contrary, imagine a warehouse with tidily organized bins, enough space for workers to move around quickly and new quality equipment for employees to use. An efficient warehouse promotes productivity, reduces time and costs, and makes everyone happy. When you increase warehouse efficiency, you:

  • Increase profits: When you cut out excessive steps, you increase productivity, reduce downtime and boost bottom-line profits.
  • Make customers happy: An efficient warehouse delivers on-time and has a well-stocked inventory to meet customers' needs. You'll gain customer loyalty and draw positive attention to your business. Customer loyalty is more important than one might think. A recent report shared that more than half of small business revenue comes from repeat customers according to 61 percent of survey respondents, and repeat customers spend 67 percent more than new customers.
  • Keep workers happy: When workers can spend more time completing tasks and less time struggling, they will have more energy and enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment. They will also benefit from a safer work environment.
  • Produce quality: Everyone benefits from quality work and products. When a warehouse is efficient, workers are less stressed, so they can focus on getting orders right and protecting goods from damage. When they get orders right, everyone wins.
Repeat vs. New Customers

Fortunately, warehouse productivity is within your reach. Consider the following tips for warehouse efficiency to maximize profits, improve productivity and enjoy all the benefits of a well-run warehouse.

Tips for Warehouse Productivity and Efficiency

Here are top ways to start enjoying good warehouse productivity which you can implement as soon as you evaluate the current situation. First, look for areas that need the most improvement. Next, consider how you can create an environment that requires the least amount of steps to get the most done. Consider the following tips for improving warehouse productivity overall.

1. Use Space Wisely

The average cost to rent warehouse space is over $5 per square foot. Considering that warehouses are usually massive facilities, you want to make the most of each foot. The best way to use warehouse space is to build up rather than out. Focus on vertical storage and quality equipment to help you save on expansion costs.

Also, make sure top-selling items are easy to reach and keep them near the ends of aisles. All bins should be clearly labeled and visible. You may need to rearrange the current storage system if necessary.

Maximize Vertical Storage in the Warehouse

2. Consider Layout

Make sure all employees have effective, organized routes to follow. For example, start the picking path at one part of the warehouse and end it at the wrapping area. The fewer steps workers have to take, the less money spent on wasted energy, so aim to shorten steps for every employee. An efficient path also puts less wear and tear on valuable warehouse equipment.

Also, consider integrating mobile workstations, so workers do not have to walk from one end of the warehouse to another just to reach a stagnant workstation.

Lastly, make sure there is ample space to encourage harmonious workflow, minimize steps and reduce crossover. If more space is needed, consider expanding because cramped areas reduce productivity.

3. Track Inventory

One of the greatest expenses for warehouses is overstocking items because excess inventory takes up valuable floor space. It's estimated that inventory takes 20 to 30 percent of its cost to maintain it. Equip staff with quality tracking devices to stay on top of inventory and reduce costs. Get rid of excess and regularly re-slot inventory to reflect customer demands.

Also, by ensuring accurate tracking of inventory, you make sure you have enough supplies to fulfill orders for the current month and the following month. If there is not a good tracking system in place, items can easily disappear, and customers can become frustrated if products are not in stock. It's important to find the right balance between overstocking and understocking.

Inventory Tracking in the Warehouse

4. Get Employee Feedback

Employees are experts at their jobs and can provide valuable insight into productivity improvements. Find out what frustrates employees and what they feel can boost their productivity. Letting them know their opinion matters and keeping them engaged also makes them feel valued. You're more likely to retain employees and avoid the costs of hiring and training new workers if current employees feel like they are heard and have a say in how things are run.

5. Train Staff

From managers to forklift drivers, making sure everyone is trained to do their jobs in a safe and timely manner improves productivity. Managers should know how to effectively manage workers, as well as provide excellent customer service and boost morale. Employees need to feel comfortable asking questions and should know what is expected of them. Offer opportunities for growth and cross-training, and focus on employee retention.

It is especially important for all employees to understand safety in the workplace. Warehouses are potentially dangerous environments. Contact with objects or equipment is the third leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries resulting in missed work. Laborers and material movers commonly are at risk of overexertion or being struck by an object. It's vital all employees are trained in workplace and equipment safety. Also, make sure a regular maintenance schedule is in place to prevent injuries related to failed or malfunctioning equipment.

6. Consider Employees

According to the Gallup 2017 State of the American Workplace report, 51 percent of employed Americans are looking for new job opportunities. Workers are dissatisfied with their current jobs due to poor management, lack of growth opportunities and lack of recognition.

Employees work hard, and they want to feel appreciated and compensated for their work. If offering higher wages is not an option, then make employees feel appreciated in other ways. As a result, employees will feel proud of their company and motivated to be productive.

In a warehouse environment, you want to make employees feel as comfortable as possible. Warehouse work can be physically draining, especially during the summer when temperatures rise. Make sure employees have mats to stand on, and offer some form of climate control. If a warehouse is too hot or too cold, employees will not do their best work, and you can expect a higher turnover rate.

Consider other ways to boost morale and productivity, like playing music. A university study found that workers are 12 percent more productive when they're happy.

Worker Productivity and Happiness

Workers are a company's top asset. A report conducted by Peerless Research Group (PRG) found that labor is a warehouse's largest expense, using up anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of the budget. Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said that finding and keeping qualified workers is their greatest challenge. One way to stay ahead in the industry and beat competitors is to invest in your employees.

7. Measure Performance

Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure how a company is achieving their goals. Strive to have at least three key metrics that can be easily measured. This will help you determine areas that need improvement, track progress and meet productivity goals. Display metrics so all employees can track their productivity. Give them the incentive to do better, and they will be more motivated to boost performance. For example, offer weekly or monthly bonuses to motivate staff. Some KPIs you might measure include:

  • Inventory accuracy
  • Receiving times and costs
  • Picking and packing efficiency
  • Order fulfillment times

Warehouse Equipment for Maximizing Efficiency

One of the best ways to boost warehouse productivity is to invest in high-quality equipment. Quality equipment is designed to complete the toughest jobs, reduce injury risk and speed up the entire process from start to finish, saving companies thousands in the long-run. With dependable equipment, you'll prevent costly downtime and make workers feel good about their jobs.

Warehouse Equipment Reduces Risk of Worker Injury

Also, quality equipment makes work a little easier for employees, reducing the chance of common work-related back injuries. For example, back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability for American adults according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Most acute back pain is caused by a sprain or strain resulting from heavy lifting or improper lifting.

Back pain or injury can last for weeks or longer, costing your company time and money for losing a valuable worker. With the right equipment, you can expect more workers to show up every day to do their jobs instead of staying home to heal from an injury.

Also, with efficient warehouse equipment, you'll enjoy a lower turnover rate. Workers will feel more comfortable, appreciated and cared for when they have access to helpful ergonomic equipment. For all these reasons and more, high-quality equipment is a worthwhile investment and will lead you down the path to good warehouse efficiency.

Here are some examples of ergonomic equipment for your consideration:

1. Pallet Inverters

No matter how efficient a warehouse is there are times when product gets damaged and accidents do happen. For example, for companies that ship bagged products, there are times when one or more of the bottom bags gets pierced from one of the forks of a fork lift truck or even from a nail protruding from the top of a wood pallet. In such a situation, a pallet inverter would come to the rescue. Instead of having employees overexerting themselves hand stacking the bags onto another pallet to then find the damaged product from the bottom of the first pallet, they would simply use a pallet inverter to invert the stack of bagged product to make the damaged bags easily accessible for removal and replacement.

At Cherry's Industrial, we understand what employers need to keep operations running smoothly. Our pallet inverters turn pallets 180 degrees so employees can solve problems efficiently without having to lift, bend or twist. We offer a variety of pallet inverters to meet your needs and budget from our popular Single Clamp (SC) and Dual Clamp (DC) models to our custom hygienic stainless steel pallet inverters. You'll save on time and injury costs, and employees will appreciate the investment you make in their physical well being.

Benefits of Pallet Inverters

2. Industrial Pallet Dispensers

An empty pallet can be as heavy as 70 pounds. Instead of needing to manually handle pallets and risk back injury or overexertion, workers can depend on an automatic pallet dispenser to make the pallets easily accessible for their respective application. As a result, production output will increase and employees will have more energy to spend where needed the most.

3. Pallet Straighteners

To help with the many stacks of wooden pallets situated throughout your warehouse floor room Cherry's offers the pallet straighteners to ensure pallets are neatly stacked and balanced. In another application, the pallet straighteners are used to align pallets to load industrial pallet dispensers such as Cherry's PD 4500 or PD 9000. In other applications, straightened stacks of pallets are essential for specialized automated line applications.

4. Lift Tables

Lift tables help prevent back injury and other strains by adjusting to a workable height. With a lift table, you'll improve employee safety and productivity, and they will make less errors by having a work area that suits them.

Use lift tables to raise heavy pallets or products to easy-to-access heights. We offer a variety of lift tables for all kinds of applications. For instance, our floor level lift tables make it easy to unload and load pallets and can hold up to 4,000 pounds.

5. Spacer and Pallet Retrievers

The Spacer and Pallet Retrievers are an amazing ergonomic resource for those in the meat and cold storage industries. Freezer spacers can now be retrieved without the need of manually unloading and reloading pallets. With the use of a manual or electric pallet truck a load separated by freezer spacers can be placed into the carriage of a retriever. The carriage can then be tipped to the side, the freezer spacers removed, and the load returned back to a standing position within 1-2 minutes. Employees will avoid undue stress to their limbs and back. The same benefit also applies for transferring loads from one pallet to the other. Workers no longer need to hand stack product from one pallet to the other. They can switch out pallets in moments thus reducing work place injuries and improving productivity at the same time.

Spacer and Pallet Retriever Benefits

6. Tippers and Upenders

Our tippers and upenders rotate pallets 90 degrees, saving employees the danger of manually tipping pallets. Each tipper or upender holds up to 50 tons and can be adjusted to the height you need, whether it be floor level or raised.

Tippers and upenders are ideal for situations where coils, rolls, or nestable containers need to be turned or tipped for storage, shipping or production purposes. We offer equipment to suit your needs from economy hydraulic roll and coil upenders, perfect for lighter weight uses and tighter budgets, to high cycle and heavy duty tippers for continuous tough work.

7. Pallet Changers

Another great ergonomic option for keeping products and workers safe is the pallet changer. Cherry's offers 3 basic models which are proven to maximize safety and productivity in the work place.

The pallet changers can transfer any type of load, including bags or lopsided loads, from one pallet to another. Our pallet changers are safe, durable, easy-to-control and ready for customization to seamlessly work for your specific application. Whether near the loading dock or within an in-line conveyor system Cherry's Industrial has the right pallet changer to serve your needs.

8. Stretch Wrappers

Stretch wrapping is a critical step in the warehouse work flow for the successful delivery of products. Imagine workers spending time and effort hand-wrapping each loaded pallet. With manual wrapping, product damage and injury risks are high because employees in many cases need to rush to wrap products in order to meet specific delivery deadlines.

Reduce product damage with Cherry's stretch wrappers, and get products wrapped both consistently and expeditiously. Our stretch wrappers provide clean, professionally-wrapped products that your customers will appreciate.

Our stretch wrappers ultimately save you thousands of dollars by preventing wasted labor and stretch wrap material. Quality stretch wrapped products deter thievery and help prevent products from toppling during transit. From affordable semi-automatic turntable stretch wrappers to our portable robotic stretch wrappers, we have what you need to keep wrapping quickly, easily and as economical as possible.

Stretch Wrappers Improve Efficiency

Contact Cherry's Industrial Today

A productive warehouse is a win-win situation for everyone. When safety and efficiency is a priority, the company benefits from higher profits, and employees are more likely to stick around and work hard. Customers are satisfied because they get orders on time and in excellent condition. If you witness order errors or workplace injuries in your work place then it's time to evaluate your warehouse efficiency.

At Cherry's Industrial, we place tremendous value in providing safety and efficiency for our customers. That's why we offer equipment that handles the hard work for you and your employees, reducing the risk of injury and boosting productivity. Our high-quality equipment will make your workflow smooth so everyone can do their job with peace of mind.

While your goal is to increase profits, our goal is to exceed your expectations. Quality equipment is an investment worth making. To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at 800-350-0011 and explore our efficiency-driving equipment options today.