Is Your Warehouse Manager Looking at Innovation?
How long has it been since you reviewed your warehouse floor plan?
The purpose and function of your warehouse may not have changed but it’s important to review your floor plan as your business grows. Efficiency is a crucial component to any business. Make a commitment to regularly review the workflow of your warehouse and actively improve processes where possible.
Here are some points to offer your warehouse managers to observe and provide feedback to improve productivity, safety, efficiency and drive the bottom dollar.
So what does it take to make a warehouse efficient and cost effective?
We are seeing a growing number of third part warehousing situations in the current economy due to the rising cost of real-estate and labour.
These are some points of innovation for warehouse managers to consider when reviewing the existing floor plan. It’s important to always look at how you handle your products because your equipment can be key to a more productive floor plan.
SPACE = COST
Space in warehousing equals cost. To return a higher yield out of space you need to utilise the height of your building. When you start to store up the walls you are able to increase the number of pallets per square metre.
If you need to increase racking in your warehouse, what is the minimum width you can take your aisle space to? If you can reduce the width between racking you can increase your product storage. There are many narrow aisle warehouse equipment options if you are considering reducing your aisle space.
Your local materials handling equipment supplier will be able to provide proper directive on what solutions are available if you need to recreate your floor space to allow more products. The right forklift or warehouse equipment can change the way you are using space instantly.
TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: EQUIPMENT AND PEDESTRIANS
One area often overlooked in warehouse design is traffic management. Without this, you have an interrupted cycle costing time and money. Traffic management may be as simple as having a drive through racking providing shorter routes for your equipment. Make a plan and educate your employees on operation flows so that everyone knows the most efficient movement of goods. This is also important for the overall safety of the warehouse because there’s a clear plan on how equipment and pedestrians can move within a space to reduce the likelihood of collisions and accidents.
A tidy warehouse that is maintained provides structure to your workflow of goods. Powered equipment requires a path clear of obstructions like misplaced stock. Clear aisles coupled with organised movements of goods creates a safe and efficient warehouse.
Engage all employees to participate in maintaining a tidy warehouse.
The equipment you use in your warehouse needs regular servicing. Downtime costs your business money. Integrate a regular maintenance plan into your productivity forecast and plan to have equipment offline to be serviced. Keep your workplace safe and your equipment’s performance at a high standard.
Have your operator’s undertaken training from a supervisor on a correct operation? Make sure your operators have completed inductions on each piece of equipment in your warehouse. Regardless of experience, everybody should be given an induction to every piece of equipment that will use.
When this training is completed ensure the operator observes the correct areas in which machines can operate to avoid accidents or collisions. If the floor plan is updated or workflow changes make sure everyone in the warehouse is aware of the changes and most importantly understand it.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT FOR THE TASK
Are you sure you’ve got the right equipment for your warehouse? The right piece of equipment can change your site overnight.
WHAT CHANGES SHOULD YOU CONSIDER TO IMPROVE HANDLING?
Battery electric forklifts have come a long way over the past decade with the use of AC operation. Performance is now faster, which means handling performance can be more efficient over the length of a shift.
It will cost you less to run battery electric materials handling equipment. If you were to add up the total cost of ownership between IC forklifts and battery powered units you would see the savings over a lifetime.
In many instances when you first look at the cost of a battery electric forklift in comparison to an IC unit, you would probably choose the IC forklift. Challenge yourself to look beyond that purchase price and consider the total running costs over time. When you begin to do the maths, the battery electric could save your business lots!
HOW CAN A BATTERY ELECTRIC IMPROVE YOUR WAREHOUSE PRODUCTIVITY?
With everything, new technology allows us to continuously speed up the way that we manage everyday tasks.
How high is your racking? Many narrow aisle forklifts today have a feature known as height selection. This takes the guess work out of moving pallets into racks. Provide your operators with the tools of certainty to reduce time spent handling each pallet.
Cameras are another helpful feature to consider to improve your warehouse efficiency. There are 360 degree cameras that can be fitted giving the operator a birds eye view of it’s surroundings. You can also have cameras fitted to the fork carriage allowing an operator to see directly down the tyne. This is now a wireless operation making it more accurate and reliable.
Consider fitting these items aftermarket if you are satisfied with your existing warehouse equipment. It may seem costly but think about the time your operators could save by taking the guess work out of moving product.
If you are thinking of upgrading and these features would improve your productivity look at brands that offer these as factory fittings.
HOW CAN INTERNAL COMBUSTION FORKLIFTS IMPROVE YOUR WAREHOUSE PRODUCTIVITY?
If you are using fuel powered forklifts in you warehouse consider using a more fuel efficient forklift.
Unicarriers manufacture forklifts that have electric fuel injected engines that reduce carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiency. There are considerable savings that can be made annually using a forklift with an EFI engine. You will also create a cleaner working environment for employees reducing the amount of harmful toxins in the area.
ARE YOU USING PALLET JACKS?
Are you using pallet jacks? There are many pallet trucks on the market now that are power drive and power lift. These features give operators total control when moving full loads reducing the risk of RSI and accidents. According to SafeWork Australia pushing, pulling and lifting objects accounted for 29% of workplace injuries in 2009-10. 42% of those injuries happened to machinery operators.
HOW ELSE CAN YOU INNOVATE YOUR WAREHOUSE?
Never “set and forget” your warehouse floor plan. Make a schedule to regularly evaluate the workflow of goods in your warehouse. Ask for feedback from your employees and ask them to provide suggestions on ways to improve the warehouse.
If there is a recurring issue that you aren’t sure how to solve – ask for help! There are services who can provide advice about alternative warehouse management systems. Start with the basics – is it a storage issue? Call a racking specialist. Is it your equipment? Call a warehouse equipment supplier. Any reputable service provider will happily offer solutions for you to consider before implementing changes to the floor plan.
Is you warehouse manager looking at innovation? Here are the key points to consider next time you review your warehouse floor plan:
- Space. Are you using your space to it’s most profitable and productive potential?
- Traffic Management. Are you managing the movements in your warehouse in a clearly organised structure?
- Tidy. Are your products properly stored and not interrupting the workflow?
- Maintenance. Are you up to date of scheduled services with your warehouse equipment?
- Training. Do your employees know the correct way to operate your equipment?
- Are you sure you are using the right equipment to move your products? Is there are a better way?