1. Business

Everything you need to know to manage your warehouse like a pro

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The organization of a warehouse’s inventory can make or break efficiency when it comes to order picking. Within the industry, this can also be referred to as “proper slotting of the product.” “Slotting” is a term used for locating the inventory within a pick area. It can also be “velocity based slotting”, which takes product velocity into account. As per a local construction supplier, if pickers are required to walk the full span of the building several times to pick commonly needed inventory, your warehouse layout is not optimized. Analyze your travel time, product velocity and other data, and locate fast-moving inventory in the most easily-accessible racks – ideally, racks that are nearest to the shipping or loading dock destinations.


  1. Organize inventory strategically

According to another construction supplier, slotting, which refers to the careful placement of individual cases within the warehouse, can also help to optimize your warehouse layout. Grouping similar items together makes inventory easier to locate, which in turn reduces picking time. This is also known as zoning, or creating established areas for distinct inventory types and categories, which is typically paired with zone-based order picking. In zone picking, order pickers are assigned to specific zones and pick only orders from their assigned zones. Hot zones, or zones that contain the SKUs that generate the most picking activity, lead to a higher pick density, which is a proven way to improve productivity. One construction supplier suggests that batch picking can also be used with a zone-based layout. In batch picking, associates pick multiple orders from a specified zone in a single trip. Wave picking, on the other hand, is a combination of zone and batch picking in which pickers pick multiple orders from multiple zones at the same time. After picking, the orders are then divided into separate orders. With any of these picking methodologies, having strategically organized inventory speeds up the process. Finally, slotting similar products in a checkerboard style to prevent confusing similar products in adjacent bins helps with order picking accuracy.


  1. Establish picking routes

Once you’ve organized your warehouse layout according to product velocity or by grouping similar items together, it’s easier to establish preferred (or required) picking routes. By establishing the best routes for picking various types of inventory, you remove the guesswork surrounding getting to the right inventory, so workers – human or machine – can focus on accuracy. Picking routes are also dependent on picking methodologies, but generally can be established to ensure that order picking in a warehouse is conducted in the most efficient way possible, eliminating common issues such as backtracking through aisles that have already been passed through, which adds to total picking time and overhead costs.


  1. Maintain accurate inventory data

While the strategies above can improve picking accuracy, they’re only as effective as the foundation they’re built upon: accurate inventory data. Inventory should be easily located with signage, rack labels and other warehouse labels, and products should be readily identifiable. After all, having all your inventory in the optimal locations and having established picking routes for efficiency means little if the inventory needed is out of stock or not where it’s supposed to be. Maintaining accurate inventory data provides better visibility into your warehouse operation and can also provide insight into product velocity and other metrics.


  1. Analyze error data

Your operational data holds many secrets that, when identified, can dramatically improve your ROI. Collecting and analyzing data on picking errors can help you identify the specific point at which errors are typically occurring, for instance, allowing you to laser-focus corrective actions on the points of error. Posting individual or group error rates is a strategy that some warehouses use to increase awareness among team members. That said, positive reinforcement may be more effective, so you may opt to incentivize accuracy through bonuses or other perks.


  1. Use smart automation as much as possible

When humans are directly involved in any process, errors are likely to occur, and in the case of warehouse order picking, it’s a process which, by nature, is rather inefficient. Warehouse order pickers can spend more than half of their time traveling from point to point within a warehouse to pick orders, creating a lot of wasteful overhead.


Fortunately, there are many technologies that automate long-standing warehouse processes, from barcode scanners to conveyor belts to shuttles and mobile robots, all with the goal of reducing the time workers spend moving products manually. Some of the best automation solutions for warehouses augment the work of humans rather than replacing them, allowing warehouses to increase picking accuracy and boost efficiency without losing that human touch. Order picking accuracy can make or break the success of a warehouse operation. Following these steps and implementing these strategies will help to streamline processes and enhance both accuracy and efficiency, so your warehouse can do what it does best, but even better.


The supply chain is a significant part of your overall business strategy and inventory management. An effective and efficient supply chain can help your business improve customer satisfaction and money by minimizing wait times for in-demand products. In other words, it provides you with a real competitive advantage against some companies in your industry. On the contrary, an ineffective supply chain can be a vast drain on your resources, so it’s crucial to implement some strategic solutions. This way, your supply chain will be as cost-effective and lean as possible. Below are some of the best strategic solutions you can consider to maximize your supply chain’s efficiency and performance:


  1. Improve Your Supplier Relationships

When it comes to supply chain and logistics, always remember that the supply chain process starts with your suppliers. Therefore, one of the strategic solutions to improve your supply chain is to evaluate and maintain good relationships with your suppliers. There are various ways to assess your relationship with your suppliers, and these include the following:


  1. Speed

If you need to boost your supply chain, you must consider how fast your suppliers can complete your orders. If suppliers take weeks to complete the production on your orders, you need to reorder your preferred products earlier to prevent stockouts. If you want to keep your supply chain efficient, it’s crucial to consider how quickly your suppliers can ship your orders when they are complete. If you have a lean supply chain where you’re ordering small quantities only, it might not be efficient to run a global supply chain with suppliers halfway across the globe. Closer local vendors can be a better choice since you don’t need to worry about the long lead times once your demand planning is off.


  1. Reliability

Great suppliers are reliable. If your suppliers ship orders late or fail to follow their promises, it may hurt your supply chain. With that in mind, the best way to enhance your supply chain is to find suppliers that are proven to be liabilities and meet your needs.


  1. Communication

Other than being reliable, suppliers should be responsive. The last thing you want to end up taking is a loss on unsellable items because your suppliers didn’t respond immediately to a particular change.


  1. Embrace Technology

Another strategic solution to boost your supply chain is to embrace technology. The right technology can make your supply chain visible, accessible, and streamlined. The more you automate your supply chain processes, the less chance for human errors and the better off you’ll be. However, you have to be aware that not all supply chain solutions are suited for your company. While others can benefit from an established  technology, you can’t be sure that it’ll meet your needs. So, make sure to shop around first and select the technology that works well with your unique supply chain requirements.




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