10 Inventory Management Tips for Warehouse Optimization

by | May 31, 2017 | Business Feature

A well-optimized inventory management system can vastly improve the day-to-day functions of a warehouse. A warehouse with precise knowledge of its inventory, employee actions, floor plan layout and general inventory forecast can experience great efficiency and show preparedness for any arising situation.

Use Real-Time Information

Anyone who used inventory management systems of the past were no strangers to lags and delays. Stagnant inventory movement caused by myriad issues, ranging from difficulty finding items to poor communication protocols, can be costly and detrimental to the consumer.

Incorporating a system that tags products and provides real-time updates on their whereabouts will increase the efficiency of demand fulfillment and general decision-making. In a fast-paced supply environment, quick information regarding product location is crucial. Barcoding and RFIDs are great places to get started with this. It is important to note, however, that barcodes and RFIDs have their differences. Nonetheless, this the data captured from this technology will help you stay organized and save money.

Make High-Selling Products Convenient

Analytics should provide insight regarding tracked orders and sales per client and product. This is valuable information that can make warehouse organization more efficient. Specifically, position high-selling products at locations in the warehouse that make pickup and delivery seamless.

Ensuring your largest clients receive their orders in a timely manner and that hot-selling products are shipped frequently will also keep consumer satisfaction high. RFIDs or Barcodes are crucial for the data collection this analysis needs. Make sure you have a strong team of data analysts and a well implemented tracking system.

Track Employees Like Inventory

Even with real-time information, employees handling the inventory can make mistakes with logging something in or misplacing it. By tracking employee actions, a warehouse can get the bottom of most issues regarding misplaced items or input errors, thus improving employee efficiency and productivity. Implement security policies that ensure the secure flow and storage of inventory, as well as enforce strict regulations to non-employees permitted on the floor. Different technologies allow managers to track different aspects of work. Managers can gather data on efficiency at the warehouse level, warehouse section level and individual level in addition to tracking customer orders.

Optimize the Floor Plan Layout

An optimized floor plan for a warehouse depends on several things. As demands fluctuate and, hopefully, continue to grow, it may be worthwhile to revamp a warehouse’s layout. Optimizing the layout offers businesses an opportunity to evaluate current machines and equipment.

It’s important to make sure all machines work within the allotted space. Avoid headaches from issues like forklift damage with machines that allow workers to easily switch pallets. Remember, your floor plan should reflect the business’s aim and size. Build in some extra space if possible to account for expected growth. The addition of advanced tracking and software enables space to open up for other opportunities in the warehouse. With improved tracking methods, it may be possible to reorganize the floor plan to make daily processes even more efficient.

Identify Unnecessary Inventory

If a certain product simply isn’t moving, opening up space may be a cost-saving answer. A new product may be better served in its place or a pre-existing product if it’s selling like hotcakes. Although many warehouses and businesses value a varied array of inventory, sometimes the most economically feasible decision is keeping what works and reducing the number of items that don’t sell quickly.

For inventory that’s not moving, work with the business’s plan for potentially holding a sale online for those items.

Consider Cross-Docking

Cross-docking occurs when incoming trucks directly load their cargo into outbound trucks with little or no intermediary storage. This practice can reduce the need for warehouse inventory and consequently lessen the load of inventory management.

Although the new implementation of this will require additions to the storage facility to accommodate a higher influx of trucks, it can be a great solution for a warehouse bursting at the seams.

Use Wave Picking for Task Delegation

In a warehouse management system, wave picking organizes a warehouse’s daily flow of work via short-interval scheduling. It stimulates the workflow for a particular day or period, giving managers the ability to coordinate various factors for completing the work.

This includes calculating staff requirements and specific functions. Each wave generally lasts between one and four hours for organizing the sequence of orders, assigning staff and achieving a daily designated workflow. Wave picking is a great solution for warehouses that struggle with task delegation and workflow in general. If you’re looking to simplify the picking process, consider looking into voice picking or augmented reality picking to improve efficiency.

Embrace Labeling

Even with real-time information tracking via RFIDs or barcoding, mistakes still occur. A fairly foolproof way of maintaining the identity of products without opening them are via labels. You can use your own labeling system, buy thermal printing labels or use a labeling software. Either way, getting in the habit of labeling incoming materials is great for avoiding future headaches.

Use Cloud Storage

Real-time data stored solely in a hard drive or USB device has the potential to break in an instant, which could be catastrophic. To prevent this, store sensitive or valuable data in the cloud. This makes the data accessible from anywhere, increasing collaborative abilities. Storing Inventory and order management in the cloud is the ideal solution for any type of warehouse.

Strive to Constantly Improve Forecast Inventory

Forecasting inventory demands is a crucial component of ensuring proper allocation and storage. Ideally, the products should be stored at 1.5 times the average use to account for potential surges in sales. Maintaining optimum inventory can reduce cost of storage, due to the lack of unexpected inventory. Using historical trends alongside real-time data can help improve inventory forecasts, which, in conjunction with improved organization, can pay very helpful dividends.

These ten tips can help elevate a warehouse’s inventory management game, helping satisfaction rise among consumers and employees alike as shipments are completed more promptly and with less headache.

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