Top 10 Best Practices that You Can Implement in Your Distribution Center Tomorrow with No System Changes and Very Little Process Changes

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Implementing best practices in your warehouse is the key in increasing the throughput and productivity. They are listed below.

1. Assign Ownership of Aisles to Operators So They Keep their Aisles Clean with Pride

Managing the operator’s aisle pristine and in an orderly way is necessary to increase the picking efficiency in the warehouse. When operators are happy and proud of the work they do – they do even better. To make them proud of the work they do install a display in every aisle saying “This isle is maintained with pride by – “operator name”.

2. Implement Daily Cycle Counts

Daily Cycle Count programs are a great way to ensure you maintain inventory accuracy throughout the year, and many companies employ a combination of daily cycle counting their key products and count all products during their 100% physical inventory. The goal of cycle counting is to accurately count your inventory without spending too much time on counting. Picking accuracy and picking efficiency will increase after implementation of daily cycle counting program in your warehouse.

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3. Proactive Replenishments in Your Second Shift or Third Shift

Replenishment involves moving inventory from reserve location to active location so that it may be picked, packed and shipped. In the case of the item can’t be located quickly, or there is an error in finding or utilizing it, this small mistake can cause the entire workflow to break down. By proactively doing replenishments you always keep inventory in your active location which means your pickers don’t have to wait and picking happens faster and in an efficient manner.  Setting up a dedicated replenishment team with proactive tactics as listed in this article, you can avoid slowdowns in the picking process.

4. Maintain Single SKU Location

SKU management is the cornerstone of any good inventory management, as they allow you to effortlessly track your inventory right down to individual variants of every product (color, size, etc.). Assigning a dedicated location for each SKU in your Distribution Centre will help in quick and accurate fulfillment of orders. Maintaining one dedicated bin location for every single SKU will increase the picking speed and eliminates mispicks. Even if you cannot have dedicated locations for all the SKUs in your warehouse at least maintain dedicated locations for A velocity SKUs. This technique applied in your warehouse to at least ‘A’ velocity SKU’s improves picking efficiency and reduces errors.

5. Image Enable Your Supply Chain

If you are 3PL or Retail Warehouse Shipping to Your Stores, or a Wholesale Distribution Center shipping to your customers this solution is for you. Avoid Vendor Performance issues, Chargeback issues while you ship an expensive product and if it gets damaged somewhere in the middle after it leaves your Distribution Centre which is not your fault. Use the LoadProof app to avoid these chargebacks. Just Install the app from the Android / iOS app store and go to Loadproof.com to register a new account and start taking pictures. You can start taking pictures of every product, pallet and the truck that you are shipping from your facility. We have customers that have save 20K in the first month by avoiding chargebacks. Visit Loadproof.com to learn more.

6. Keep Bin Locations Clean and Organized

Allocating an hour or two per day, to clean warehouse bin locations and also to nicely organize and stack the items in bin locations can lead to improvement in your warehouse efficiency. Clean and nicely organized warehouse bin locations mean employees can move around more quickly and get things such as counting and picking easier and faster. Quick cleaning on a daily basis enables your operation and every shift to be more productive and it is not very expensive to keep your bin locations cleans, but the benefits are immense.

7. Document Operator Travel Time

As a warehouse manager, you are always challenged to “do more with less.” Most attempt to meet this challenge by finding ways to reduce labor costs. Many have implemented labor management systems to measure associates’ productive work, and some have gone a step further by adding incentive-based pay systems to entice higher productivity levels.

Only a few have spent the time to understand and manage a key component of labor cost: unproductive walks, or travel time. Measuring unproductive walks through a pedometer provides insight on the number of steps and the travel time that operators spend on which further helps with determining bottlenecks in the distribution center process flow. This program also reduces the idle time of each operator in the long run.

8. Perform Random Cycle Count Audits

Cycle counting is an efficient and cost-effective way to ensure the ongoing accuracy of your inventory. Why wait until the end of the year to find out if your inventory counts are accurate when you can maintain precise inventory counts and valuations with random cycle count audits?

Keep in mind, the longer you wait, the more errors you’re likely to find and the longer it will take to resolve those errors. Random cycle count audits will ensure that your inventory count is accurately managed throughout the year, leading to greater throughput and more reliable reporting year-round.

9. Sensors, Lights and Operator Flow

Ensure sufficient lighting for operators, this helps in increasing productivity, and picking accuracy as they have clear view of the barcodes. Auto Illumination of zones where the operator travels, using light and motion sensors is essential in enhancing warehouse operations efficiency and also helps in avoiding accidents. The second part is to gain warehouse productivity by making sure the flow of operators is clear and simple.

10. Measure All of the Activities

What you cannot measure you cannot manage. For example, if you assigned an operator to perform cycle counting or any other warehouse function for eg.sort boxes or move pallets it is important to measure them, so everybody working in the warehouse is held accountable.

Without measuring you will not be able to manage the activities they perform and find ways to increase the efficiency of operation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. So far, Smart Gladiator Wearables have been used to ship, receive, and scan more than 50 million boxes. Users love them for the lightweight, easy-to-use soft overlay keyboard and video chatting ability, data collection ability etc. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 17 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at puga@smartgladiator.com or visit the company at www.smartgladiator.com. Also follow him at www.pugasankara.com.

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