Those who have studied efficiency in the warehouse has found that 50 to 60 percent of travel time is wasted in material handling facilities. The goal is to reduce lift truck travel distance and time in specific ways which help avoid damage to products and equipment abuse. Several of the most common efficiency barriers to many warehouses are discussed below.
New product lines are stored wherever there is extra space, not necessarily where it makes the most sense. Regularly handled items are separated due to size or to storage handling requirements. Due to increased business, SKUs or Stock-Keeping Units have proliferated. Replenishment and order-picking speeds are lessened due to bad lighting. The lift truck fleet is very small and more round trips are required using the same machine. Lift trucks face slowdowns and detours due to uneven floor surfaces and poor equipment maintenance. Ineffective warehouse layout usually leads to dead-end aisles and unproductive workflows.
If any of the above concerns seem familiar at your place of work, or if you are aware of ways to be more effective overall, there are 3 main areas to focus on:
Storage, Shipping and Receiving Layout: Utilize a facility layout and draw a series of arrows that reflect the way your product flows. The best facilities provide a well-organized, single direction flow from receiving to shipping. If your arrows go in many different directions, or double backwards in any spots or go in the opposite to the desired direction, then you have determined your inefficient spots.
When you have identified your trouble spots, work to improve access to product destinations, lessen travel distances between source and destination, decrease bottleneck areas within the facility and re-vamp any lift truck and high-travel congestion places.
What is cross-docking? Consider cross-docking options for items which quickly move throughout your facility. The cross-docked inventory is not stored in the warehouse. It is transported from inbound delivery almost directly to outbound shipping. Some of the sorting and consolidation is normally done within the shipping areas. The simplest objects to cross-dock are usually bar coded products with high inventory carrying costs and predicable demands.