Warehouse efficiency is everything in the material handling industry and a great layout goes a long way toward improving it.
In the grand scheme of things, the layout of your warehouse may seem like a trivial thing to concern yourself with, but it really can affect the success of your entire business. First off, remember to utilize the 80-20 rule when it applies to your business. Since many companies find themselves selling large quantities of only a few different products, they can cut picking time dramatically by grouping their best-selling products together. And placing these fast-selling SKUs in the “wheelhouse” area (waist-to-shoulder height) of the storage system will improve order picker ergonomics and efficiency.
If you want to cut picking travel time even more, consider automated products such as conveyors and multi-level pick towers. These innovative machines can drastically reduce the amount of time order pickers spend walking or moving product.
The best way to save time – and, therefore, increase efficiency – on the distribution center floor is to implement software that will sequence orders for you. It will optimize sequence performance by analyzing pick path and putting together single lines, same-zone orders, and difficult picks. Be sure to explore other technology options too. Bar codes, radio frequency, pick-to-label, pick-to-light, and voice activation will almost always increase warehouse efficiency.
Most of all, remember that your warehouse layout needs to be reviewed at least once a year. Product popularity changes with the seasons, so your warehouse will likely need to be re-slotted to ensure that your fastest-moving SKUs are in optimal locations.
Reorganizing your existing warehouse layout may seem like a daunting and expensive venture, but in the long run, it’s more than worth it. When you increase your efficiency, your entire business will feel the positive effects.