Warehouse Optimization: 3 Key Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse
According to the Global Warehousing Market Study, 2020-2025: Focus on Transformational Trends, published earlier this year, “warehouses have transformed from a physical infrastructure primarily serving as long-term storage facilities for enterprises and brick and mortar businesses to order fulfilment centres.” Similarly, last December, Supply Chain Digital noted, “In 2010, many warehouses would still have been regarded as a neglected cost centre” but that due to changes in the business landscape, eCommerce, and more, the warehouse is now a “carefully managed control center” and strategic hub.
Innovation Enterprise Channels states, “As warehouses have grown in size and complexity, so has the need to manage materials in the most efficient way possible.”
In this blog, we’ll cover three key ways businesses can optimize their warehouses.
Optimizing The Location Of Goods and Reducing Travel Time
The next 15% of the activity comes from 30% of the items, which are medium-movers. Finally, 5% of warehouse activity comes from 50% of the items, which are slow-movers.
Understanding which products move quickly, and which are left behind, gives the warehouse manager insight into managing inventories and organizing their warehouse layout in the most efficient way possible.
However, many warehouses are not optimized in this manner. One writer in Supply Chain Brief recalls, “All I saw was a very large warehouse with nothing but racks and shelving as far as the eye could see. Employees were pushing carts up and down aisles, across the entire warehouse. They were trying to find each of the products required to fill a particular customer order.”
Methods such as ABC analysis can help businesses determine the fastest-and slowest moving SKUs (which can vary seasonally) and organize them within the warehouse to make it as efficient as possible for teams to pick.
Cutting down on travel time within a warehouse also relates to this. At Routeique, this is why we partnered with award-winning German company MotionMiners to enhance our Inventory Management System (IMS), an improved WMS (Warehouse Management System). Our partners’ Motion-Mining® sensor and machine learning technologies collect data on movement, ergonomics, and processes. The inventory management data from Routeique™ provides the MotionMiner platform with real-time data, which helps add context to the information which Motion-Mining® collects.
This, in turn, lets warehouse teams make strategic adjustments to the warehouse layout and product placement, reduce unnecessary travel distance within the warehouse, and lower process times.
While some businesses are applying tools such as AR to help staff manage and locate stock, or experimenting with warehouse automation, and multimodal, voice-guided, or pick-to-light picking, the use for mobile technology in warehouses is also growing.
According to one member of the Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC) panel cited in Materials Handling & Logistics this January, “Advancements in mobile technologies for the warehousing, distribution and transportation sectors have grown significantly in the last few years, and I believe we’ll see wider adoption of iOS and Android-based applications for warehouse management in 2020.”
It’s easy to see why: getting your team started with tools like our IMS doesn’t have to require purchasing costly new devices: with Routeique, it’s as simple as downloading an app that we’ve made compatible across all smart phones and tablets.
The IMS makes it easy for staff to track products by whatever metric you prefer, manage your stock, and easily manage receiving, restocking, picking, packing, claims, and more.
Fulfilling Orders Efficiently
Especially in today’s e-commerce driven world, fulfilling orders quickly and efficiently is key to customer satisfaction.
Optimizing this process ties in with much of what we’ve discussed above, like keeping your teams’ travel time low.
Warehouse managers should also consider which picking method works best for their team, such as zone picking, cluster picking, or batch picking.
Additionally, having complete, accurate, and real-time information about your inventory can help with this process.
For example, in addition to tracking things like item location, expiry dates, and amounts, tracking product dimensions, weight, and required temperatures, can help create an efficient packing process that maintains product safety and boosts customer satisfaction.