Whether warehousing comprises the bulk of your business or an integral part of your operations, global retailers like Amazon and Walmart proved that achieving optimal efficiency in terms of warehouse layout, organization, and processes can give you a tangible competitive edge.
In what follows, you’ll find several warehouse organization rules you can implement today to get your business on the right track.
If you want to always be able to tell whether your warehouse is running within optimal parameters, you need to be able to do a continuous assessment of storage operations. To achieve this as consistently as possible, you can rely on the 5S (6S now) methodology. The latter is based on a traditional Japanese workplace organization framework that dates back to the 16 th century.
This is also the technique that eventually led to just-in-time manufacturing.
Sort. Periodically evaluate the range of your inventory according to what is and what isn’t necessary. Seek to eliminate those items that are either unprofitable or provide you with very low profitability.
Set in order. After you’ve ridden yourself of excess clutter, you must organize what is left. The best organization is the one that makes it possible to find and recover everything you need fast and easy.
Shine. Before moving on, make sure your workplace is clean – from the shelving to the machinery, and even the floors. This is also related to the next point.
Safety. A clean workplace is a safe one. By removing dust coatings, spilled liquids, and other related things that do not belong, you make sure that your warehouse is accident free.
Standardize. Set a standard of cleanliness, order, and sorting processes for yourself and all of the employees working with you. Let them know what it is and why it is necessary to have it throughout all of the operations on the level.
Sustain. Last, but certainly not least, you want to devise a way in which to maintain all of these without having to constantly repeat them, which is why it is also referred to as self- discipline. The Japanese word for this, Shitsuke, is also translated as “do without being told,” which is pretty self-explanatory.
Think Layout Design
The bedrock of your warehouse operations is your design. Every single process that takes place within your warehouse is shaped and molded by choices you’ve made when arranging the floor plan. The best layout design is the one that achieves the following:
Uses all of the available space, including all cubic space, not just horizontal surfaces.
Minimizes the amount of times a box or shipment needs to be touched.
Allows storage flexibility.
Creates enough open work spaces.
Enables easy access to the merchandise itself.
The three kernel principles at the foundation of every successful layout design are flow, accessibility, and maximum space utilization.
Efficient Pallet Racking
Needless to say that each and every warehouse facility ought to have pallet racking systems. There are numerous advantages to storing merchandise in this manner, as pallet racking reduces warehouse expenditures significantly. For businesses like Walmart and Costco, this choice meant millions and tens of millions saved every year.
The entire shipping industry across the world uses the pallet as the basic unit load because they make storage and transportation much, much easier than they would be otherwise. Aside from increasing the overall safety of your warehouse, pallet racks are the best way to maximize your use of cubic space. They can be made as tall as you want them to be.
ABC Analysis for Inventory Sorting
Finally, you should make sure to sort your inventory appropriately. Some of the most successful retailers rely on the ABC analysis in order to classify their stock according to how well it sells.
“A” stands for the items that bring the most value and sell the fastest, which is why you want to always have them within reach. “B” items represent those midrange goods that sell regularly, but that don’t bring in as much profit or value as the former ones. Lastly, category “C” is for those items that contribute the least to your bottom line.
If you abide by this sorting principle, then your pick and packing line will work seamlessly at peak efficiency. Employees will be wasting less and less time having to walk around for items and will be able to use the remainder of their schedule to package.