Let’s state the obvious: it’s a little late to be thinking about optimizing your warehouse for the seasonal rush. That said, whether you did an A+ job prepping for this rush, or find yourself a bit behind the curve going into December, here are a few best practices that you can focus to smooth things out a bit for this year.
It’s all about the inventory
Storing it, organizing it, getting it out the door – warehousing is all about the inventory. The middle of a Christmas rush is no time for large-scale changes to organization or processes, but there are some small changes that you can make.
1. Frequency should mean visibility
Disorganized inventory is one of the top reasons for warehouse delays. Something as simple as making sure that frequently picked items are at the front of the shelving is a small step that adds up big.
2. Picking efficiency
Extra footsteps are an ongoing warehouse issue that can really put a drag things during a rush. While now isn’t a good time to try out a lot of different picking methods, it might be time to remind your workers of best practices within the method you’re using now.
No, do not fire your warehouse workers during the Christmas rush! Take this one literally: keep that warehouse clean, and clutter free.
Here are some small but mighty steps that will help keep your warehouse functioning smoothly right through the holidays.
1. Keep the aisles clear
Nobody can get anything done if they’re always running into things. Making clear aisles a top priority boosts productivity by keeping pickers and forklift drivers alike moving quickly and safely.
2. A place for everything, and everything in its place
Okay, this could turn into a big project. But while reorganizing makes a great off season project, for now it’s time to concentrate following the systems that you have in place. You already have a spot for trash, used boxes, and other discarded clutter, so make sure that these things are ending up where they belong. Reinforce your expectations for what happens to empty pallets, and where tools belong.
Keep your people happy
An engaged, loyal workforce can compensate for a lot of flaws in other areas. Conversely, unhappy workers simply can’t work as well. Whether or not you need to make any changes to your hiring or training practices next year, here are some quick changes that you can make right now to improve productivity and morale this year.
1. Be upfront
If warehouse workers are unhappy about an inefficiency in organization or processes, let them know that you hear them and agree. Even when you can’t fix the issue in the middle of the holiday season, let them know that you have a plan for next year.
If your workers feel like you’re all the same team, they’ll be more willing to put up with less than ideal circumstances for a little bit.
2. Take them seriously
If the same workers who notice a problem have an idea for a quick workaround, take them seriously! Front-line employees usually have a great grasp small things that would make their work more efficient. It may not be possible to implement their idea, but give them the courtesy of serious consideration.
3. Put some incentives forward
Everybody likes some rewards for extra hard work. It’s important to be realistic about the expectations that you set for incentives. Give them a little stretch, but don’t dangle a carrot at the end of an impossible stick.
Keeping basic best practices for inventory, environment, and people in mind can have a big effect keeping your warehouse running smoothly all through the Christmas rush.
Give Overflo a call at 1-800-626-0616 to learn about our warehouse, distribution center and order fulfillment services in Maryland.