The need for speed, accuracy and efficiency has never been more pressing as your business strives to meet the ever-growing demands of your customers. Explore the latest strategies to meet these challenges head-on and optimize and accelerate your warehouse operations.
1. Optimize warehouse layout
Optimizing warehouse space is crucial to maximizing operational efficiency and profitability. Well-designed layouts not only reduce material handling costs by 15-19%, but also contribute to overall increased productivity.¹
Maximizing your warehouse cube is essential to make the most of your available space. With the average clear height of logistics facilities increasing, warehouses can now store more inventory per square foot, leading to improved storage density and better space utilization.
SKU slotting is another important consideration in layout design. By analyzing sales data and product characteristics, companies can determine the optimal placement for products to minimize travel time and reduce the time required to retrieve items, with an up to 40% increase in picking efficiency.²
2. Streamline order picking
Efficient order picking is crucial for any warehouse operation, and optimizing the process can make a significant difference in overall efficiency. It's important to understand the different types of order picking methods available, as well as their benefits and drawbacks, to choose the most suitable approach for your needs.
Recent industry data shows that order picking can account for up to 55% of total warehouse operating costs.3 Streamlining the process can result in substantial cost savings and increased productivity. With batch picking or zone picking, where workers are designated specific areas from which to pick, you can minimize travel time and boost efficiency. Forklift type is crucial to streamline the order picking process for fast and accurate picking.
3. Integrate smart technology and seamless connectivity
For fulfillment technology, it’s essential to understand your challenges in terms of inventory and data accuracy, as well as the quality of connectivity throughout your facility. Warehouse management systems (WMS), scanning equipment and inventory control software provide excellent automation and streamlined inventory management tools to achieve enhanced operational efficiency.
Warehouse operators who implemented WMS technology reported an average of 25% increased productivity4 and a significant reduction in errors.5 Smart technology, like RFID and barcoding systems, can also improve inventory errors by over 90% and enhance receiving time and fulfillment accuracy.6 Furthermore, facilities with high-quality connectivity and automation experience notable gains in productivity as well as reductions in labor costs.
4. Implement scalable automation
Automation is an important aspect of supply chain operations, and implementing scalable solutions can help increase efficiency while reducing costs. Solutions built to support both current and future needs, with flexibility in setup and usage capabilities, can help account for spikes in demand and changing operational requirements. A master plan concept can also help you plan for the long term, ensuring your infrastructure is set up to phase into your space over time.
Scalable automation solutions—such as automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)—can help reduce labor costs, improve inventory accuracy and increase throughput. Gradually integrating scalable automation solutions into existing workflows minimizes disruption to operations and allows for more efficient scaling as demand increases.
5. MAXIMIZE FORKLIFT FLEET EFFICIENCY
Forklifts are a critical component of warehouse operations. They can also be costly and a drain on energy, especially as you tier up. Businesses can reduce costs and improve sustainability by conducting an energy study and implementing best practices, such as turning off forklifts when not in use and optimizing travel routes. With advancements in smart technology, performance data analysis and battery technology, companies can optimize forklift use, reduce idle time and invest in electric forklifts that are quieter, produce no emissions and result in significant savings in energy costs.
- Heragu, S.S., R.J. Mantel, and P.C. Schuur. "Mathematical Model for Warehouse Design and Product Allocation." International Journal of Production Research 43, no. 2 (2005): 327-338.
- Frazelle, E. H. 2016. World-Class Warehousing and Material Handling. McGraw-Hill Education. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill.
- Eisenstein, Donald D. "Analysis and Optimal Design of Discrete Order Picking Technologies Along a Line." The University of Chicago, 2008.
- "97 Supply Chain Statistics You Must Know: 2023 Market Share Analysis & Data." Finances Online.
- Škerlič, Sebastjan, and Robert Muha. "Reducing Errors in the Company’s Warehouse Process." Transport Problems 12, no. 1 (2017): 83-92.
- "5 RFID Statistics Manufacturers Need to Know." CYBRA.