Companies in the distributive trades have seen growth in recent years. Modern tools and techniques have to potential to drive competitive advantage by transforming the warehouse from a cost centre to a growth centre. However, many businesses still employ legacy manual and paper-based warehousing processes, and have yet to take the first steps towards such a transformation.
Warehouses are busy, complex places and it isn’t always easy to understand where problems arise or to know what specific benefits better warehouse management would bring. We think the best way to start is to take a walk around the warehouse, look at how it is functioning, and speak to the team that works there.
In light of this, we’ve compile checklist of visual clues that a warehouse may not be running as efficiently as possible, that can help to start conversations about what needs to be improved.
Pallets piled randomly in the shipping area of the warehouse.
This suggests that there may not be a warehouse scheduling system in place to ensure that the right goods go on the right van in the right order. If various customer orders are being processed simultaneously, are there checks in place to ensure that the goods don’t get mixed up? If pallets aren’t stacked in the order that they are to be checked out, there will be delays as they are moved, as well as the increased risk of mistakes being made.
Handwritten note on top of a pile of pallets in the receiving area of the warehouse saying ‘to be processed’.
This suggests that there the system for receiving goods has not been properly applied, maybe due to too many goods arriving simultaneously or a lack of receiving staff. Goods must be checked immediately on arrival, in case they are later found to be damaged, or incomplete. If the note falls off and the goods are stored without further processing, they may not register on inventory and can become lost in the system.
Delivery drivers sitting idly in their cabs.
Seems like scheduling has gone awry here too. Maybe goods aren’t being picked and packed in the right order, or orders are being processed for shipping out of turn. Either way, idling drivers are costing the company money, and may also miss delivery SLAs, resulting in penalties and dissatisfied customers.
Pallets obstructing access routes in picking area of warehouse.
Where do the pallets belong? If they are in the way, pickers will move them, which makes it less likely for them to be found when needed.
Bin covered in dust at the front of picking area.
Dust suggests these goods are picked only infrequently. Sales analysis should reveal which goods are most frequently accessed, which can feed into smart space planning. The most easily accessible parts of the picking area should be reserved for high turnover goods.
Bin covered in dust at the back of picking area.
Again, these goods are picked only infrequently. These goods may well belong in back of the picking area, however they may be obsolete or wrongly labelled, or be seasonal goods that need moving at some times of the year.
Pallet containing goods with damaged packaging.
This is not a good sign as the goods inside may also be damaged or missing. Goods that are received in this condition need to be promptly inspected so they can either be accepted or returned to the supplier. If the process to do this isn’t in place, damaged goods may find their way into customer orders.
Transforming your warehouse from cost centre to growth centre won’t happen overnight. But with our specialist trading and business management system you will have the right platform to support you through every step of the journey.
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