End of Year Warehouse Management Tips: Part 1

iStock_000063318237_SmallThe end of the year is quickly approaching, and we know that you are most likely doing everything you can to get your warehouse into tip-top shape before the new year rolls around. When it comes to managing a manufacturing or distribution operation, making sure your warehouse is in the right order and your processes and technology solutions are working correctly at the start of a new year is extremely important. How you begin the new year can be a strong indicator for how the rest of the year is going to go, so make sure that you are not ill-prepared for the new challenges the year will bring.

The end of the year is one of the busiest times in the warehouse, so planning ahead is essential. Starting your end of year preparation in the middle of December is one of the biggest warehouse management mistakes you can make. Between fulfilling last-minute holiday orders and managing normal warehouse operations, you will not have time to get everything done. By starting your preparations now, you can ensure that you are ready by the time the holidays and the end of the year roll around.

5 Ways to Prep Your Warehouse for a New Year

After being in this business for over 20 years, we’ve learned a thing or two about warehouse management. In order to help you prepare your warehouse for the end of year scramble and the new year ahead, we’ve put together a few tips to get your affairs in order. Keep the following tips in mind as you look at improving your warehouse management situation:

  1. Organize your warehouse (even if you think it doesn’t need it). Organization is key to productivity. If your workers are walking around the warehouse looking for an item, you are wasting valuable time and money. It’s always a good idea to reexamine your warehouse organization and evaluate what’s working and what is not. Create a simple and specific system for organizing all of the products in your warehouse, making sure to keep high volume items front and center.
  2. Be proactive in receiving. One of the biggest complications we see in warehouse management is in the receiving area of the warehouse. Delays in order check-in can hold up order fulfillment and lead to disorganization on the warehouse floor. We’ve seen warehouses that have allowed products to pile up in the receiving area simply because they didn’t have time to get to the orders. Don’t allow this to happen to you.When inventory is receiving, it should be verified and inspected right away. Take action on any damaged or incorrect items, and then begin putting products away. Checking inventory in quickly helps managers to see all of the available materials in stock, expedites order fulfillment, and helps maintain organization on the warehouse floor.
  3. Automate the picking process. Picking can be one of the biggest time-wasting activities in the warehouse, especially if you are still using manual processes. Even one manual task can slow the process down and impact your entire productivity.
  4. Set aside time to restock go-backs. Inevitably there will be mistakes that happen during the picking process. Stockpiling items that were erroneously picked can create disorganization and lead to a potential shortage in the warehouse. By setting aside time and assigning someone to re-stock the go-backs, you are staying on top of your inventory and improving the organization of the warehouse.
  5. Evaluate all of your warehouse management processes and get rid of tasks that are wasting resources. Just because you have a system that works today does not guarantee it will be effective 9 months from now. Evaluate your warehouse processes at the end of the year, and make any changes you deem necessary. This is particularly helpful if you carry seasonal products where inventory is greater in certain months. If this is your scenario, then your storage areas will change often throughout the year.

By starting with these few simple tips, you can transform your warehouse management and already start improving your chances for success in the new year. Next week, we will take a look at a few more tips to help you improve your warehouse management situation. More often than not, it comes down to having a plan of action and putting that plan into place at the right time.

If your business is struggling with inefficient warehouse management processes or simply needs a fresh start, contact us for a consultation. We’d be happy to look at your warehouse situation and make suggestions for improvement.

Do you have any more tips to add to the above? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below this blog post.