The individuals who study warehouse efficiency have found that roughly 50 to 60 percent of travel time is wasted in most material handling facilities. The objective is to be able to reduce lift truck travel distance and time in certain ways which help prevent product damage and equipment abuse. Several of the most common efficiency barriers to many warehouses are discussed below.
The new products will not always be placed where it makes the most sense, these products are normally stored where there is extra space. The frequently handled items are separated due to storage handling requirements or to size. Due to increased business, Stock-Keeping Units or also called SKUs have proliferated. Replenishment and order-picking speeds are lessened due to poor lighting. The lift truck fleet is too small and more round trips are needed using the same machinery. Lift trucks face detours and slowdowns due to poor machine maintenance and uneven floor surfaces. Ineffective warehouse design normally leads to unproductive workflows and dead-end aisles.
There are 3 main areas to focus on if any of the above problems seem familiar at your workplace, or if you know ways to be more efficient overall:
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 well-organized, single direction flow from receiving to shipping. If your arrows go in many different directions, or go in the opposite to the desired direction or double backwards in any spots, then you have determined your inefficient areas.
Work to improve access to product destinations, lessen travel distances between destination and source, lessen bottleneck places once you have identified your trouble spots. This could be done by re-vamping any forklift and high-travel congestion areas.
Cross-Docking? For things which rapidly move throughout your facility, consider cross-docking options. The cross-docked inventory is not stored in the warehouse. It is moved from inbound delivery almost directly to outbound shipping. Some of the consolidation and sorting is normally done in the shipping areas. The easiest things to cross-dock are usually bar coded products with high inventory carrying costs and predicable demands.