According to a recent survey, over 3,000 hours are lost in warehouses each year due to workforce inefficiencies. That same survey stated that nearly 89 percent of the warehouses surveyed believed the efficiency problem could be solved by investing in new technology. While new technology certainly helps, it’s important to evaluate warehouse practices that are not technology-centered to also boost warehouse and pallet shipping efficiency.
1. Establish Accountability with New Processes
Without the proper system of checks and balances in place, the habits that lead to technological errors will go uncorrected. It’s essential to hold workers-- not technology-- responsible for any mistakes that are made.
2. Keep Records of Changes and Compare Against Error Rates
Logging all changes in training procedures, machine installments, technology malfunctions, new hires and worker schedules is a good way to increase efficiency. Comparing error rate changes against this information can help you gain more insight into failures within your operation.
3. Rely on Leadership to Walk the Floor
Ask individuals not normally on the warehouse floor, such as senior management, to walk around the facility order to help identify unnecessary warehouse processes. Since these staff members work in a different area of the business, they can provide a fresh set of eyes that can uncover inefficient activities that have become the norm over time.
Above all, focus on identifying and eliminating wastes in the following areas:
- Moving products that are not actually required to perform the processing
- Your components, work in process and finished product not being processed
- People or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing
- Waiting for the next production step
- Overproduction ahead of demand
- Over Processing resulting from poor tool or product design creating activity
- The effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects
Once you've identified your biggest areas of weakness and trouble, brainstorm ways to correct the problems. Having your values clearly laid out can help you prioritize what should be fixed first and what should be fixed last.