There is more to managing a warehouse than product and shelving. Hard to believe, but true. By focusing on other contributors to your warehouse management system, you can find efficiencies that may not be as obvious and improve overall productivity.
For your warehouse to run smoothly, product has move in and out consistently. Nothing will cause a bottleneck quite like unreliable shipping or delivery trucks. Make sure you keep up your fleet, if you deliver yourself, or use a reputable shipping company or companies to receive product or send it out. Your shipping coordinator and department will play a key part in making sure everything comes in or goes out on time.
Your employees are the cogs in the gear that keeps the process wheel turning. Encourage team members to be self-starters, perform with purpose and to work together to meet organizational goals. This means you should be communicative, keeping them up to speed on daily, weekly and quarterly benchmarks and listen to their feedback as well. No one knows a process as well as the one doing it every day. Their little tweaks can drive cost and time savings.
One of the easiest, and worst, things to do is get behind in the paperwork that goes with inventory moving in and out of your warehouse. Set up a system that deals with every invoice, packing slip and order as it is received, put away, packed or shipped. If an item is damaged or needs repair, note that immediately. Document locations, status, shelf-life and packing instructions – anything that pertains to your inventory and its availability status. You need real-time information to make informed decisions.
Part of documentation is organization, both in the files and on the floor. When you know where your product should be, and the number in the physical location matches what is on the paperwork, your system is working. Items should have a single location, employees should be trained as such, and frequent spot checks will ensure you are on track.
Software can help with inventory management, a key component to any warehouse management system. Knowing what you have, how much of it you have, how much is on order and how much is en route is critical to proper order filling and inventory tracking. Most warehouse are more complex that a simple worksheet program can keep up with, and with advances in barcoding, scanning and even automated picking, finding a software package that meets your needs is not only possible but fairly easy, depending on your wants and budget.