Best Practices for Optimal Warehouse Management and Operations

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Timeliness is the prevalent theme in shipping operations. Customers might make purchases based on product, but they’ll make repeat purchases based on quality experience with the brand. Top qualities? Amongst others, shipping! If and when packages are delayed, re-routed, late or worst, lack traceability, trust in the brand name goes straight out the window.

In a time where purchases are placed on a screen and items delivered from thin air, the greatest interaction and chance to win consumer faith is in the minimal, prompt, assured time it takes to deliver the product.

So how can you make sure that your docks are running smoothly? That scheduling happens on track and customers are receiving packages on time?

The best answer is dock scheduling software. AppointmentPlus offers online scheduling software that significantly alters operations for the better. Cloud-based scheduling software is available for all types of warehouse management systems and is useful in many steps of your dock management system. To find out more about scheduling software, get in touch with our team, and we can demonstrate all the ways in which it applies to your business.

Although the software is the most efficient way to improve your warehouse management system immediately, there are dozens of tactics that can be used to organize workflow more optimally and keep schedules on target.

Check Out Our Top Warehouse Management Tips:

  • Advanced shipping notification is a must. ASN allows for order efficiency and enough time to accommodate changes or delays in a shipment. ASN keeps employees on track, in the know and one step ahead of the incoming work. ASN ensures that order fulfillment requirements are met on time and executed to perfection.
  • Automation is now affordable and applicable to most industries, warehouse management and shipping included. Run numbers on automation systems against current labor costs. If it relieves your budget, adapt to technology and let a robotic palletizer or automated stretch wrapper help your company. If you currently use automation software, make sure to run current costs against hypothetical labor costs, as well. Always be mindful of making sure that your operating costs are the best for your system.
  • Categorize inventory by value. Top price items should be your most valuable inventory, warranting it the most time and resources. Consider keeping three levels of value to help you prioritize shipments, mistakes, returns and overall needs for change in the system. Every shipment is important but remember, you are running a business. Be mindful of where the money sits.
  • Clean up on aisle five. Cleaning up spills right away is an easy way to reduce injury, mistakes, and re-routing inefficiencies. If you clean up right away, no re-routing will be necessary; nobody will be at risk for injury and no products will be at risk for damage. There should be a consistent and well-identified procedure for cleaning up spills.
  • Commit to not procrastinating. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is commonly overlooked in the workplace. Find a way to remind yourself, your management and your employees not to procrastinate. Instilling the mindset to “just do it” will keep business so efficient; it’s hard to fathom what the workplace will look like. What’s important is maintaining the philosophy as a priority and sticking with it. When you slip into procrastinating habits, you run into build-up and eventually, it’s a big mess that needs digging out of, costing your time, money and labor.
  • Do not forget about restocking. The restocking process can aid in moving efficiency just as much as the picking process can. Zone areas accordingly to restocking accessibility and make sure that when you re-slot, restocking is accounted for, too.
  • Dock and staging stability. A common oversight in management is straightforward setup. Landing docks and staging areas can be hazardous if they are not adequately aligned, placed and handled. Make sure to include a control that securing dock plates. Make daily inspections a priority and make sure someone or some system is regularly monitoring safety inspection forms.
  • Employ software not just for scheduling and inventory control, but for labor management, too. This will allow you to look at your workforce objectively. You can identify problems and solve them patiently instead of reacting impulsively in the field. Labor management tools will analyze all your moving workforce pieces and help you make the most of all hands and skills on deck.
  • Implement a bin location system. Bins allow you to locate product immediately. When you re-slot, all you have to do is make sure your bin system is reflective of the changes.
  • Invest in an inventory manager. If your operation is still getting off the ground and seems too small to justify the investment, then stay within your means. But if you are growing to a decent size and can afford it, an inventory manager is an excellent way to optimize your warehouse management. Tasking one individual with the importance of this realm will produce more results than spreading the responsibility amongst several, already busy employees.
  • Invest in security. Petty theft might not make a dent in your numbers, but the efficiency of a secure operation will. Without the option to make time for theft or plan and zone accordingly to theft convenience, operations will run according to profit margins only.
  • Keep employees informed of changes, progress and company status. Encouraging transparency will keep information flowing quickly and fluidly, decreasing windows for error or miscommunication. Make change vocal and consistent so that there are no surprises.
  • Keep more than one picking strategy on deck. In the case of plans gone awry, you have an immediate referral to alternative, effective strategies. They will come into play when looking at optimization, too, not just error reform.
  • Light up the space. Seriously, the light will have a positive effect on your overall efficiency and your overall energy use.
  • Look into lean warehouse operations. Where is there waste on the floor or in the operation? Where can it be reduced? Reducing a mess now means avoiding clean-up labor, meaning fewer employee and hours and paychecks. Reducing waste in small ways across the company will dramatically improve the supply chain. It’s the little things that add up!
  • Make real-time data decisions. If you do not already have data software, invest in some. Software allows you to draw on big data insights without analyzing the nitty-gritty details yourself. Once you have the data and the relevant insights, make decisions off of them. This is the only way to implement a consumer response and action initiative effectively. Additionally, this is the reason you have data. Use it!
  • Make returns easy and efficient. Returns should never be a burden to the consumer, and they should never be a burden to your company. Do not let the back and forth trade of product effect the flow of your system or back up a day’s agenda. Make sure to have an organized, possibly automated system in place to handle your returns with the most care and least time. Automation cannot always be relied on for the whole return process. Investment in specialized systems or stand-alone systems to help supplement the automated control you have going. Make the return process a priority. Having a reliable system will keep business running smoothly and take care of any places for error.
  • Make sure that item SKUs link up to the various automated and other tech systems you are running in the company. All software should be SKU-friendly and able to track what is happening with every item. This is will make all of your data more cohesive and ensure that data analysis accounts for moving the product.
  • Manage even where you cannot measure. For example, you might not be able to quote the cost of a displeased customer, but it does not mean that the problem should not be managed. Make a point to address every hiccup in the chain, even when it is not quantifiable. That said, where you can measure, measure well and often. It is essential for your business growth to see when and where busy is steady and when and where it reacts to internal or external elements.
  • Organization is key. This is no brain busting tip, but it leads our list because organization is so important in being able to track shipments and progress, and identifying where mistakes get made. Group shipment categories that share pickup times and similar storage message. You will see greater flexibility for resolving error and making schedule changes when you have a logically organized system.
  • Re-slot whenever it makes sense. Don’t hold back with re-slotting, but do analyze its potential well. If you have high-profit SKUs that are easy to move, re-slot them wherever it makes the most sense. Always be aware of the many moving pieces you having exiting and pair or group them according to the most efficient travel time.
  • Require delivery appointments. It might make you feel like a principal or some other undesirable leader of youth’s past, but it will make your operation lightyears more efficient. Requiring appointments keeps vendors reliable, staff ahead of anticipation and employees methodically staffed. Delivery scheduling is yet another way to keep the field organized. Try assigning carriers’ specific time slots during the day or schedule weekly or monthly deliveries. The latter can especially improve efficiency because it keeps everyone running on a longer, broader routine.
  • Safety! Safety is never to be assumed or overlooked. Safety practices fall in line with education and it is imperative that you schedule time and invest in the resources to educate employees on best practices for safe handling. Hold seminars quarterly, bring in experts, and include signage of demonstrations or reminders. A safe workplace will come with some investment, but it can be maintained affordably, and will reduce unnecessary costs long-term. Safety committees are not overrated. It might sound a bit outdates, but a safety committee comes at no additional charge and it is a significant step toward enforcing safety procedures that enhance the workplace. Emergency response plans are also important aspects of your overall safety. Having efficient exiting options for employees and good will reduce loss and damage in the event of an emergency. Remember to train your staff at least once a year to practice the existing process. If you have not set up a committee by this time, appoint a few leaders to help implement organization for this particular situation.
  • Set loading bays out so that trucks can get loaded right away.
  • Track asset inventory. If the product only moves four or five times a year, consider if you need to be being to store it. Would drop shipping direct from the manufacturer be more cost effective? It is likely.
  • Train often. Training employees consistently is the best way to reduce mistakes, reinvigorate spirits and regenerate the stamina to meet goals. Go beyond training on their daily tasks and educate employees on your Help everyone see business as a whole and understand where their roles are of vital importance. Training increases comradery amongst employees and managers and helps keep everyone on the same page as you move your company forward.
  • Use cycle counting for inventory control. It is worth the additional time investment to increase accuracy and efficiency.

So, the list of tips is rather lengthy. But that’s a good thing! That means there are so many ways to improve your business. You likely already have a handle on many of these optimization techniques for your warehouse management system, we only encourage you to see where you can make more elements of your business better.

When you’re ready to invest in optimization software, please reach out to AppointmentPlus! Our experience in the industry lends us a great advantage over many providers, and we take pride in our ability to set your company up for success.

We look forward to working with you.