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Two Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse

Worker in Warehouse

In the hustle and bustle of today’s e-commerce warehouse, making the most of your space by organizing and optimizing can save you money in productivity and efficiency. As space becomes more valuable, material handling and distribution center warehouses are taking steps now to process their throughput in a faster and more effective way. What can you do to stay competitive in this new reality? Here are some steps all material handling and DC warehouse managers should consider moving forward.

Organize, organize, organize

If you are trying to move product in and out as quickly as possible, while dealing with the industry’s labor shortage and other considerations, having your warehouse space organized can cut down on wasted time and effort expended by your workers who are “looking” for items.

But how do you organize your warehouse effectively? Some material handling and DC warehouse experts recommend using the ABC system, which means categorizing your warehouse contents into three compartments: A for items that move in and out quickly; B for slightly-less popular items that move in and out of the warehouse a little slower; and C for items that are important to have on hand, but could take up valuable space while waiting for some movement.

Here’s some other important tips:

  • Keep your material handling and DC warehouse clean and free of clutter. Everything should have a place and your staff should understand that taking the time now to make sure something is “filed” correctly will save them time later when they have to look for that item. Make sure someone is tasked with sweeping and keeping the dust down - it makes it easier to find things and cuts down on returns when items stored in your warehouse don’t become dirty. 
  • Labeling and color coding. If you have a busy warehouse that moves product in and out on a fast-moving schedule, organize product and storage spaces by color. For example, designate an area that holds fast-moving product as red. Additionally, your SKUs and the areas they live in should be clearly labeled so employees aren’t spending their time hunting.
  • Look into a cloud-based warehouse management system. Once you’ve cleared the time to install and learn this software, you might be amazed at the amount of organization you can realize with this tool. No more stacks of paper and hand-written, maybe unclear, pieces of paper. No more dreaded long-lasting inventory once a year. Your system will keep track of everything - and as an added bonus, help you maintain and track your fleet of equipment, too.

Make the Best Use of Your Space

Material handling and DC warehouse space is at a premium. It’s no longer the best option to just run out and purchase another piece of property or an already-existing warehouse. Prices have skyrocketed and inventory is low. Now that you are moving way more product through your warehouse in the e-commerce boom, you will need to be creative about how to store your pallets and products, while organizing them in a way that makes sense for placing and picking.

Fortunately, there are many ways to capitalize on your existing space and grow it to handle your expanding business. Let’s take a look at a few of those ways.

Empty warehouse pallet rack

Storage solutions

Pallet racking and shelving are two great ways to organize your material handling and DC warehouses. For the most part, you don’t want boxes sitting on the floor and it even gets a little dicey if pallet racks are directly on the floor. There are so many different configurations of pallet racking that can be specifically designed for your unique application. 

Do you need a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system? Maybe you would be better served by a last-in, first-out (LIFO) system. Many people prefer the FIFO system, which ensures that product moves out of the warehouse in the order it came in so no older product is left sitting around while younger product is moved out. If your product is non-perishable and everything is moving in and out so fast these days that it doesn’t matter, choose the LIFO system. 

Both systems have good methodology for different applications and there are pros and cons. FIFO keeps your stock fresh. LIFO can have positive tax benefits. FIFO is easy to work with, but so is LIFO. Since it depends on your priorities, consulting with a professional is a good idea.

Installing industrial shelving is an easy and cost-effective way to organize your material handling or DC warehouse. There are plenty of options out there, including wire shelving and bin storage. Consult a professional to help you decide what will work best for you.

Other storage systems that will help include:

  • Mezzanine - A mezzanine is basically a second story installed into your warehouse space between the floor and the ceiling. It functions over your aisles and pallet storage as an additional platform that can be used in a wide variety of ways. It effectively adds usable floor space to your warehouse. Most mezzanine systems can be customized for your application, as well as being fairly simple to break down and rebuild as necessary.
  • Carousels and assembly lines - Warehouse carousels come in a variety of types and can be used to save space in your material handling or DC warehouse. You can choose from vertical carousels to carousel shelving that moves in and out as your workers need to pick items. Assembly lines can be installed over and around your storage areas to move product more quickly and efficiently from point A to point B in your warehouse.

It goes without saying that your aisles are going to be getting more and more narrow as you move larger amounts of product in and out of your warehouse. You may need to think outside of the box a little to come up with creative ways to find more space and stay organized. How about over the dock? Most warehouses do not utilize that space, but for product that is not affected by temperature changes as dock doors are opened and closed, it could be a perfect place for certain storage.

Optimize for Your Bottom Line

Optimizing your warehouse to make it more efficient will go a long way to boosting your bottom line. With so many material handling and DC warehouse solutions available, why not take advantage of traditional and innovative methods for optimization? You will find there are affordable, no-hassle answers for your unique operation. At Liftmasters, our professional team will listen to your concerns and help you find clarification. Contact us today!

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