A disorganised warehouse is a thorn in the side of more warehouses than their managers would care to admit. You could have the best kit; industrial shelving, plastic storage boxes, parts bins, sack trucks and more, but it all means nothing if you have no system or organisation to speak of. Any warehouse manager worth their salt will have tips and tricks up their sleeve to help the operation run smoothly, from layouts to utilising their team.
As well as using some of the best industrial and heavy-duty shelving around amongst other warehouse kit, we’ll be looking at our top tips for keeping an organised and efficient warehouse inventory. We’ll also take a look at the dangers of a disorganised warehouse and the impact on the operation and inventory.
Pitfalls of a disorganised warehouse inventory
Your inventory is the key to your profit and loss margin, and a disorganised warehouse inventory will only disrupt those figures. By not knowing what is where and where is best for your catalogue of products – big or small – you leave yourself open to various pitfalls. Theft, misplacement, breakages, expiry of products are all possible scenarios with a disorganised warehouse inventory.
With theft, if you do not know where items should be and when, how can you keep track of theft numbers and track down the culprits? In the case of misplacement, it is possible to simply lose products to the depths of your warehouse, never to be seen again. Breakages and expiry occur when products are left under lights, in the cold, in the way or just in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up getting broken. All of this can be avoided with a well-organised warehouse inventory.
On top of all of the above, a disorganised warehouse inventory decreases productivity and efficiency – costing you time and money. So let’s get into those tips for improving the organisation of your inventory.
Optimising Warehouse Layout
Warehouse layouts should be dictated by the items in the warehouse, not necessarily by the warehouse manager. The items in your warehouse should be prioritised by location, so for example, placing the most frequently used items in an accessible access area close to the packing station. By doing so, productivity will see an increase, as will your peace of mind knowing where they are. Consider using a workstation with shelves as the packing station so you can kill two birds with one stone.
Utilising Your Team
Your team are your biggest asset in any workplace or environment. If you have your team onside and educated about how you want to execute your plan, you will not only see positive end results, but productivity will increase too.
You should set about educating your team as to how to operate in the warehouse efficiently and how to store items correctly. By utilising your team effectively, your inventory and efficiency should both improve.
Invest in the Correct Storage Solutions
Although the systems you put in place are what will keep you organised, the aid that will get you over the line is the correct storage solutions. Industrial shelving and heavy-duty shelving will kit out your warehouse correctly and give you the space you need to work. Add to this the plastic storage boxes, parts bins, and other warehouse accessories, and you’ll be well on the way to having a properly organised warehouse inventory. Tufferman provides all of these items and more, and it’s worth browsing to see what you could invest in to save yourself time and money in the future with practical storage solutions.
Also known as a Work In Progress (WIP) area, this area is where you should keep items or products that are in the process of being packed and assembled. This should reduce the amount of time spent by your team locating items and packing them.
To prevent the expiry of products, you should create a Receiving Area for new products that have come from suppliers. This allows you to keep visibility over items that need to be sent next rather than being pushed to the back. Furthermore, if these items are not organised, they may break the golden rule of “first-in, first-out”.
A separate area for returned products should be set up to avoid the mix up of products or contamination of products. This allows the team to keep track of what needs to be processed in and what is being sent out instead of sending out an item that has already come back which may be faulty.
As time goes by, you will need to regularly review your processes to stay on top of them and ensure they are as efficient as possible. This allows you to identify gaps in your inventory and its management and improve them as you go. Of course, you can always do this by completing an inventory audit.
These may sound like simple solutions to your warehouse problems or obvious choices to pick out as advice. Still, when combined, they can make a significant difference to warehouse efficiency and inventory management. You should regularly be auditing your inventory and the process in place around the warehouse, testing to see if you can improve your margins elsewhere in the business, such as theft and loss numbers. In addition, keeping your warehouse inventory organised can improve efficiency and employee productivity.