When creating a successful warehouse, the best-handled product is the least-handled product. If you’re seeking to reduce costs in the warehouse, and increase efficiently, one objective should be to minimize merchandise handling in your picking, packing and shipping process.
- The goal of picking is to maximize picks while minimizing movement. Walking is time and time is money!
- Pre-sort packing lists based on where items are in the warehouse.
- Warehouse management software is the end-goal but there are steps you can take manually to determine the minimum number of steps employees need to take when they pick an item – for example, buy a pedometer and track the number of steps each person takes per day!
- Place hot, seasonal items closer to the packing stations for more efficient picking.
- During peak shipping times fast moving items should be consolidated to the front of the warehouse.
- The end of the day on the packing area is actually the start of the next day.
- Anticipate the volume for tomorrow and ensure you have enough supplies prepared.
- Ensure you have ample room to work and the area is free of clutter.
- The packing area is your last line of defense against mistakes.
- The packers are the only people that actually touch the customers so be sure to let them know the importance of packing.
- Use a proper sized box and if needed add packing material to the package does not shift inside.
- Sort the boxes by carrier.
- Eliminate the ability for the warehouse to make changes to shipping labels to speed up efficiency and to save money.
- Lock out the ability to add ‘signature required’ or to change a bad zip code.
- Create a “grocery store” checkout flow to maximize output of each shipper and to avoid packages crossing back into the warehouse once they are ready to be picked up.
- Adjust driver pickup times according to your peak seasons.
- Moving the pickup window back 2 hours in the holiday season could allow 30% more packages to be shipped in the same day, improving customer satisfaction.
- Man hours in warehouse/ divided by total packages shipped = output rate per person.
- Ensure you understand your total output per hour per person. See above.
- Create a ‘best practice program’ and know improving your process *never* ends!
- Organization is the key to saving money – use tips above to get organized!!
- Incentivize performance to take your business to the next level! For example, take the employees to lunch or give them a gift card when they increase their hourly output significantly (e.g. 25 packages to 30) over a monthly period. Reevaluate the goals twice a year.
- The packer is the last person to have contact before the customer so they need to ask themselves “would they want to receive the item they just packed?”
- Develop a manual for new employees to teach the best practices and ensure long term success.