Every business is familiar with its sales cycle – the times of the year when business is fast, and the "off-season" when things start to slow down.
Busy seasons are great for your bottom line, but they also add another benefit. During the busiest times of the year, you can begin to identify some challenges your packers face in your warehouse operations.
When business begins to slow down, it's important to look back at those pain points and improve to avoid another frustrating or complicated busy season. Here are four good places to begin.
1. Build it up
Your warehouse is not a two-dimensional space. If you feel like floorspace is getting cramped, don't forget about that third dimension. Take advantage of vertical space as much as possible by using tall shelving and storage units, Supply Management suggested.
"Be intentional in your organization to support workflow."
Also, invest in packaging solutions that don't take up excessive amounts of floorspace. Options like the Easypack Packmate from Pregis take up minimal room and are easily moved between workstations or out of the way as needed.
2. Intentional inventory organization
While stacking your inventory vertically will save space, if done carelessly, it could slow down efficiency. Be intentional in your organization to support workflow. If you have a few products that are only needed every once in awhile, these should be taking up space on the highest shelves, Supply Chain 24/7 noted. Keep your most popular products at ground level or within reach.
Additionally, pay attention to item shape and size. Large shelves are great for large items, but smaller products can easily get lost or hidden on oversized racks, Supply Management pointed out. Invest in shelves that fit your products, or standardized bins to keep your space organized and your small items together.
3. Review and revise
Warehouses need to be strategically arranged and organized for the greatest efficiency. As your business develops and evolves, it's likely that your organization will outgrow your setup. To avoid growing pains, take the time to evaluate your processes to determine if your operations still make sense.
One thing to pay attention to is the paths your packers take throughout the day. If they are walking from one corner of the warehouse to the opposite, you're probably overdue for a reorganization. Other signs include:
- People bumping into each other or crossing paths.
- Frustrated employees.
- Slowed fulfillment times.
Another aspect you should keep in mind is where supplies are kept. If your packers can't find or don't have access to enough packaging material or other equipment necessary for them to complete their jobs, something needs to change.
Consider stocking your workspaces with equipment that puts protective packaging within reach for your employees. For example, the AirSpeed Smart system from Pregis can easily fit on most shelves and takes up minimal space. Prior to inflation, the air pillow cushioning is rolled up and compact. The whole machine only weighs 26 pounds, so it can be moved when needed.
4. Ask for feedback
You may know your business inside and out. But unless you are packing boxes alongside your employees, you probably aren't aware of the small daily complications that slow things down. Joseph Flahiff, a business consultant, explained to barcode label manufacturer Camcode, that getting employee input is beneficial on multiple levels.
"Staff, generally, have already bought into their own ideas, and they're more likely to be excited about ideas that they've come up with," Flahiff pointed out. "It will not only improve the warehouse flow and productivity, but it will improve their overall motivation and engagement."
Once you've upgraded your warehouse to optimize productivity and efficiency, you're ready to tackle another busy season head-on. If you want to talk to a professional about more ways to improve your operations, reach out to Pregis. Our packaging experts will be happy to offer helpful advice.