The following blog comes to us from Megan Ray Nichols of Schooled By Science.

Running a warehouse is never easy. Keeping everything moving is a major logistical task that requires good planning, foresight and skill managing people. Some warehouses run more efficiently than others. It may be how the floor is planned or how the operation is managed, but there is always room for improvement when it comes to efficiency.

Here are nine tips you need to know to make your warehouse as efficient as possible.

1. Schedule Regular Upkeep and Counts

If you're not already, you should be scheduling regular counts of the goods you have and inspect for damage.

Partial-count techniques like cycle counting can also be used if it's not possible or practical to count your entire inventory at regular intervals. You should also perform additional tallies of high-value and high-risk stock.

2. Optimize Your Layout

Maximize the square footage you have. Consider how products will flow through the warehouse floor. Go vertical if there is enough ceiling clearance. If possible, you can also bring in professionals to help you make your use of space more efficient. Another set of eyes on the floor will always be helpful. Their experience may pick out some unoptimized section of the warehouse where traffic isn't flowing as well as it could.

3. Regulate Floor Traffic

Even if your warehouse's floor layout is already optimized for the flow of goods, traffic can still be interrupted if you don't plan correctly.

Try to keep people who don't need to be on the floor off it. When organizing the traffic flow and layout of the warehouse, make sure you're not sending anyone out that doesn't need to be there. From receiving to shipping, keep business transactions and staff away from the flow of goods through the warehouse.

4. Use a Warehouse Management System (WMS)

You don't need to be the only one figuring out how to make your warehouse as efficient as it can be. Use technology like a warehouse management system (or WMS) to help you manage internal logistics. A WMS can help you with floor layout, analyze current stocks, and demand and assist with inter-facility communication.

If you're not currently using a WMS, integrating one may take some time. The benefits, however, are almost certain to outweigh the short-term adjustments.

5. Go Digital

Paper counts work well enough, but require reproduction and bulky physical storage. A lot of time you're just going to be scanning them in anyway. Switch from paper to digital. Making this process paperless will save on record space and make the analysis easier. Without paper records to digitize, a lot less data entry and scanning will be required.

6. Label Everything

One of the easiest ways to streamline the picking process is through meticulous labeling. Proper labels will help workers find and stock or deliver the correct items without having to ask supervisors or other workers for directions or help. A good labeling system will also make counting easier — no mystery items to account for. To get the most out of your labels with the least increase in labor, include tag checks in regular counts. This will help weed out any mislabeled or unlabeled items.

7. Stock Based on Demand

Avoid overstocking certain items by stocking based on current demands, rather than hoarding inventory or guessing what you'll need in the future. Back up any intuition about how much to stock a given item with hard numbers. You can also implement demand planning so you can adjust your stocks based on patterns in demand.

8. Implement Better Safety Standards

Mistakes and injuries are costly, require work stoppages and make employees feel less safe. According to OSHA, injuries are more common in warehouses than other facilities. Relaxing safety standards may seem more efficient in the moment, but it won't benefit you in the long run. It can even be a violation of OSHA guidelines. Better safety standards and training comes with short-term costs, but preventing mistakes is much cheaper than paying for them.

9. Add Quality Control Measures

A good way to avoid having to double back and fix your errors is to catch them in the process. Adding additional quality control steps to your warehouse workflow will prevent costly mistakes and do-overs. You don't want to be in a situation where you're on the hook for a damaged or incorrectly picked item. Quality control can prevent that.

Warehouse Management for Better Efficiency

Running a warehouse is always going to be a major logistical task. Good management requires making things organized for both you and your workers. You can also optimize things further by adding technology like digital counting or a WMS. Even simple fixes to layout, or the addition of steps like quality control, can save huge amounts of time and resources at any warehouse.

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