9 practical tips for a safe and efficient warehouse

By Kelvin Howell

Most people don’t think about the inner workings of a warehouse when a package arrives on their doorstep or they grab an item off a store’s shelf.

However, safe and efficient warehouse operations are central to commerce today.

Whether you’re running a retail store, an e-commerce company, a manufacturer, or another business, you rely on your warehouse to get inventory where you need it, when you need it.

For business owners, that means optimizing warehouse operations is a top priority.

But how can companies today keep their warehouses safe and compliant without sacrificing the bottom line?

Let these best practices guide your warehouse to success.

3 Ways to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

Are high labor costs or slow fulfillment times stifling your business? These strategies let
businesses get more out of their warehouse operations.

  • Better warehouse layout streamlines workflow and reduces pick times. Rather than grouping items by product type, try organizing based on product velocity, placing fast- moving items close to shipping lanes to reduce travel times.
  • Businesses should also seek to automate as many warehouse processes as possible. Implementing scannable barcode labels that sync with a warehouse management system is one smart way to eliminate manual processes in the warehouse.
  • Staffing is one of the most important factors in a warehouse’s success. It’s also the hardest to control. Invest in an experienced warehouse manager, schedule regular check-ins with workers, and keep warehouse staff updated on output and expectations.

Optimizing Inventory Control

Getting product out the door isn’t the only challenge for warehouse managers. Improving warehouse efficiency also requires optimizing inventory to better control deadstock and warehousing costs.

  • In order to improve inventory control, warehouses need accurate forecasting. Many inventory management software solutions use quantitative forecasting to replenish stock in the right quantity at the right time.
  • Warehouses have several replenishment methods to choose from, including demand replenishment, triggered replacement, and top-off replenishment. The best solution for your business may be a combination of several methods based on product demand.
  • When you find yourself with excess stock, don’t hold onto it. If you’ve already tried different ways to market and merchandise inventory, it’s better to discount, donate, or liquidate than to store surplus stock indefinitely.

Warehouse Safety Essentials

Warehouse efficiency is important, but it shouldn’t come before safety. Luckily, you don’t have to choose. These warehouse safety practices prevent accidents without impeding productivity.

  • Basic warehouse safety starts with keeping the warehouse clean and organized, optimizing warehouse layout, defining forklift paths, and ensuring warehouse personnel are property trained and supplied with PPE.
  • Signage, lighting, safety inspections, and other best practices prevent common warehouse accidents including forklift accidents and slip and falls.
  • Warehouses also need an emergency action plan that includes evacuation procedures and training for employees.

Safe and efficient warehouses keep businesses running smoothly. As your business’s
operations grow more complex, make sure you’re investing in better warehouse operations too.

With the right practices, procedures, and safety precautions in place, you can prevent many of the warehouse problems that plague businesses today.

About the author: Kelvin Howell loves to tinker, and his wife certainly takes advantage of it by keeping him busy with the latest projects she sees on Pinterest. He might be an expert now, but there was a time when he was just learning his way around a toolbox and he has the fail stories to prove it.

Want to be featured in a future Guest Writer Spotlight article?
Contact the editor: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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