Warehousing is an often overlooked area of the business. We store and ship. How hard can it be? Well, there are plenty of ways to dramatically improve your warehousing service and efficiency.
- The fundamentals – Every manufacturer has to do something in terms of warehousing and distribution, even if they cross-dock everything. One of the most overlooked keys to success is to look at the fundamentals.
- Inventory record accuracy– Although a fundamental, I thought it deserved it’s own item due to the critical importance. It doesn’t matter how efficient your warehouse is IF you cannot find what you need when you need it.
- Flow– Although you can go down the Toyota Production System or Lean path in terms of flow, if that sounds Greek to you, don’t despair. I’ve found flow to be uncommon common sense. Take a step back and observe how your product moves through the building. How does it flow? Does it make sense? Do you happen to drive in circles? Sounds silly but frequently occurs.
- WMS light – One of my colleagues introduced me to this term, and I love it. In essence, whether or not you need a fancy software solution down-the-line to optimize your warehouse, there’s no reason to jump from crawling to running the marathon in a day. Which WMS (warehouse management system) tools can be of benefit to drive results? How do you make progress in that direction without having to jump full in to a complex WMS system? WMS light – focus on what makes sense with tools that support it.
- Mixed mode – In today’s environment, you must understand your business. Is it pick and ship? Do you ship 1 piece at a time or in bulk? Do you support retail, distribution, etc.? In today’s world you might need to do 2 or 3 completely different processes. You must set your warehouse up to support each of them – and it’s unlikely to be the same setup for each.