You may have heard of warehouse optimisation, or even been involved in warehouse optimisation processes within your own warehouse. What is involved in warehouse optimisation can be quite broad, but if you understand the basic concepts behind the term it may help you understand it's value more. It can also allow you to implement your own optimisation processes more effectively, and go about creating a safer, more streamlined and more productive workplace.
Warehouse optimisation may seem like a buzzword used to encourage your team to maximise the output of the warehouse, but there’s actually a whole lot more value associated with the term.
In a nutshell, an optimised warehouse will effectively complete all processes in the shortest possible time, incurring minimal cost and waste, optimal use of available resources (like automation), while remaining flexible to changing conditions, and keeping everyone safe in the process - it’s what all warehouses aspire to achieve!
There are many reasons to ensure your warehouse is performing optimally, but the most important reason is related to your customer. Customers expect exceptional service from a business they’re dealing with, and you need to deliver this experience while remaining competitive to other companies. If your warehouse and company are performing well, you have the ability to meet customer demand while reducing any excessive costs to the business.
Every year, businesses are at risk of losing money due to mis-ships, out-of-stock items, returns and other human errors which are related to inefficient warehouse practices. By optimising your warehouse, you have the ability to minimise the risk of these things happening.
Your warehouse optimisation process should cover four key areas; warehouse layout and space, management and organisational processes, supporting data and systems, and warehouse safety. If you make an effort to review and optimise all of these areas, you should be able to create an efficient warehouse that your team can get on board with.
How does safety impact warehouse optimisation?
Safety and warehouse operations go hand-in-hand. It not only maximises productivity and efficient handling of goods, but also contributes to minimising any risk associated with warehouse operations. Both smaller basic warehouses and multi-network warehouses need to ensure their operational safety and efficiency is up-to-scratch before, during and after optimising the warehouse.
WorkSafe recommends to plan, do, check and act continuously to create a safe working environment. So how can you incorporate this into your optimisation process?
- Identify any potential risks to people in the warehouse - this includes risk of accident or injury and can apply to workers, visitors, or bystanders.
- Consider the upkeep of machinery and how that can impact peoples safety.
- If you have employees who work night shifts, consider how processes could be altered to improve the safety of these people who can be prone to lethargy.
- Talk to your team about risks in the workplace, and what can be done to decrease these safety risks.
- Think about the current control measures you have in place, and whether they are managing the risk effectively.
- If you don't have effective measures in place to minimise safety risks, implement processes starting by minimising the highest level of risks first.
- Take the time to implement the best risk management solutions for your warehouse - remember that more expensive doesn't always mean better. You can also seek the help of a health and safety professional to guide your decisions.
- Continuously monitor how effective the risk minimisation process is. This can include internal and external reviews and audits.
- Take action - keeping people safe in the warehouse is all about actively identifying risks and removing or minimising these risks.
Many warehouses have multiple large areas to consider, so it can be worthwhile putting together a safety team to manage continuous risk assessment (if you don't have one already). If you consider safety throughout all points of your warehouse optimisation process, you will create a solid base for effective changes to develop an efficient warehouse.
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