Distribution center managers understand their warehouses are not entirely optimal, but they lack the time, resources and strategies to greatly improve operations. At College for Adult Learning, we have identified strategies to help evaluate your warehouse operations and abolish dispensable, ineffective processes to improve workforce efficiency within the warehouse.
Most workplaces keep track of inventory error rates, although many warehouse managers fail to take advantage of the insights that can be gathered from these metrics. While they do identify problems, error rates are best utilised when seen as an indicator of systemic failures within your company which, when addressed will help to improve workforce efficiency.
The best way to acknowledge and record any of these failure points is to meticulously log any changes in training procedures, new workers, new technologies along with enforced or other changes within the warehouse. The ability to put these changes on a time scale is the difference between the ability to be proactive and reactive when analysing error rates. It is crucial to log any changes in training procedures, machine installments, technology malfunctions, new hires and worker schedules. The comparison of error rate changes against this information and can help you gain more insight into those more systemic failures within your operation and improve workforce efficiency.
Processes to Reinforce Accountability
Many warehouse managers turn to automation to improve order flow and fulfillment, although the benefits of automation can be lost when pickers are careless. When creating procedures and processes in your warehouse, the advantages realised in doing so are lost when workers find a way around the system. It seems all too often, a mistake will be made at the beginning of the picking process. The picker may not be too concerned about this mistake as they know a worker further along the line will amend the problem for them.
Warehouse managers should create a workflow within their organisation that creates accountability and that will also put emphasis on the importance of accuracy. For instance, if a packer notices incorrect inventory, let them place it to one side and notify the picker of their mistake rather than them fixing it themselves. Although these losses in efficiency are significant at the time, they will be regained in the medium to long term with workers that are much more attentive to their processes. Without the proper system of checks and balances in place, the habits that lead to these errors will go uncorrected. It is essential to hold workers personally responsible for any mistakes they make in order to improve workforce efficiency within the warehouse.
Development of Procedure Standards
The development of procedure standards reduces errors within the supply chain and saves both time and money. The focus here should be on the reduction of probable variation in areas such as quality control, receiving, shipping, shift scheduling and facilities management. This is one of the ways to increase collective productivity, improve warehouse efficiency and help to establish procedure standards.
Communicate with your workers in a clear and concise manner that defines company goals and the methods to achieve these goals. This communication is crucial to supply chain operations and productivity. By scheduling daily and weekly meetings dedicated to collective problem-solving, management are able to make essential changes regarding performance. This level of problem-solving ensures a unified understanding of productivity and operations that will facilitate open communication between employees and management.
Adding Engineering to Improve Workforce Efficiency
Of course, engineering your warehouse with the newest in technological advancements will improve your warehouse efficiency. However, simply placing a new technology investment will not break bad worker habits or train an inefficient, unregulated workforce.
Warehouse managers should also take into account the time it will take to deploy a new technology solution. You need to make the decision whether you can justify slowing down operations to integrate the technology into its current software and workflows. The old saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it it springs to mind.
Empower Your Workforce
Focus on the core skills of employees and management to help encourage and empower them. This approach will exhibit confidence and result in a continuous increase in productivity. Gaining the buy-in of your workforce makes it possible to create new ways to engage and align, and to ultimately increase productivity. You need to ensure you define your supply chain’s goals in a clear and concise method that can allow employees and management to take advantage of existing and future opportunities for improvement.
Invest in Your Education
Investing in your education is a great way to increase your earning potential. The best investment you can make is in yourself and your financial education. At College for Adult Learning,, we want to give you the best earning potential and give you the opportunity fulfil your career ambitions and goals. The Diploma of Logistics qualification presents an opportunity for logistics and supply chain specialists to further their careers and gain valuable skills and knowledge. If you want to build a successful career path, a career in logistics is a great place to start.
Many believe the efficiency within the warehouse could be solved by investing in new technology. While new technology certainly helps, it is also important we evaluate warehouse practices that are not technology centered to also improve workforce efficiency within the warehouse.