The individuals who study warehouse efficiency have found that approximately 50 to 60 percent of travel time is wasted in nearly all material handling facilities. The main goal is to be able to minimize lift truck travel distance and time in specific ways that help avoid machine abuse and damage to products. Several of the most common efficiency barriers to numerous warehouses are discussed below.
New product lines are stored wherever there is extra room, not necessarily where it makes the most sense. Frequently handled items are separated due to storage handling requirements or to size. Because of increased business, SKUs or Stock-Keeping Units have proliferated. Replenishment and order-picking speeds are reduced because of bad lighting. The lift truck fleet is very small and more round trips are required utilizing the same machinery. Forklifts experience detours and slowdowns because of poor equipment maintenance and uneven floor surfaces. Ineffective warehouse design often leads to inefficient workflows and dead-end aisles.
If any of the mentioned problems seem familiar at your workplace, or if you are aware of ways to be more effective overall, there are 3 main areas to concentrate on:
Storage, Shipping and Receiving Layout: Use a facility layout and draw a series of arrows reflecting the way your product flows. The best facilities provide a single direction, well-organized flow from receiving to shipping. If your arrows go in numerous different directions, or go in the opposite to the desired direction or double backwards in any spots, then you have determined your inefficient spots.
When you have identified your trouble spots, work to improve access to product destinations, reduce travel distances between destination and source, decrease bottleneck areas within the facility and re-vamp any forklift and high-travel congestion areas.
What is cross-docking? Consider cross-docking options for items that quickly move throughout your facility. The cross-docked inventory is not stored inside the warehouse. It is moved from inbound delivery almost directly to outbound shipping. Some of the consolidation and sorting is usually done within the shipping areas. The easiest items to cross-dock are typically bar coded products with predicable demands and high inventory carrying expenses.