Managing a warehouse is a time-critical operation with lots of moving parts. You have to coordinate shipments constantly going in and out, inventory control and labeling, market cycles, and team communication. In the midst of all of this, it’s easy to get caught up in bad habits that can lead to huge problems if left unchecked. In order to keep a warehouse running smoothly, you have to make decisions that will be sustainable for days, weeks, months, and years ahead. Here are some of the biggest problems that can sneak up on you if you’re not prepared:
1. Killing Trees
If you’re using printed reports or writing down serial numbers by hand, you’re doing something wrong. Paper reports are not only a waste of organic matter, they also areinefficient for communication, and liable to get lost or damaged. All of your information should be stored and transmitted digitally to ensure the greatest security and accountability in all transactions and reports.
2. Using Old Software
New warehouse management systems get rolled out every year. With all of these updates in technology, it may seem inconvenient to keep buying new programs with unfamiliar interfaces and protocols. But most of the time a little training and reeducation with help you eliminate redundancies in your operation and improve your reports, data collection, and inventory control. Lots of software is now available for mobile devices that can greatly enhance communication throughout your warehouse.
3. Labeling Everything Yourself
You always require your suppliers to provide barcodes or RFID-tags on all incoming shipments. Without them, it’s almost impossible to receive and send out shipments efficiently, or to match items with specific order requests. Your labeling system should be consistent across the board, with your entire inventory integrated with your warehouse management software. As useful as this software can be, without proper labeling you will have to perform manual entry of data which essentially defeats the purpose of the technology in the first place.
4. Running Out Of Space
Running out of space is every warehouse manager’s worst nightmare. So why does it seem to happen so often? Most of the time, warehouse managers aren’t organizing their facility with expansion in mind. With so much going on, space gets filled simply because it’s convenient and available, not because it’s the most efficient or optimal way to use it. If you are growing rapidly, you need to design an intelligent warehouse layout that is scalable for the waxing and waning of the fiscal year.
5. Focusing On The Short-Term
All of these problems can really be boiled down to a lack of foresight. If you are too focused on the short-term, day-to-day contingencies, you miss out on the bigger implications of these problems. Rather than thinking about solving the problems you have right now, you should be thinking about how to avoid problems you don’t even have yet. A best of class warehouse manager operates his warehouse with an eye to the future, and makes long-term goals and projections that create value.