Warehouse operations often seem like mysteries, with so many moving parts and variables. You can’t fit everything in the head of your warehouse team, let alone train them to perform their duties at peak efficiency. That’s where effective organization comes in. A well-organized warehouse will not only help you keep track of what’s available, but it will also make it easy for your staff to locate the items they need. Smaller warehouses — especially those that only have one or two pallets of storage space — are going to face added challenges when trying to manage and organize the operation efficiently. Thankfully, there are some proven tips you can use right away to start making improvements in your operation. Read on if you’re ready to discover how an organized small warehouse organization can streamline every aspect of your operation and increase its effectiveness as a result.
Set SMART goals when organizing your warehouse
Before you begin tackling one department of your operation at a time, take a step back and ask yourself if you’ve set any goals for your reorganization. Without a clear vision in mind, you might end up wasting a lot of time and energy on projects that don’t solve the underlying issues at hand. Setting goals can be even more important when working with smaller warehouses, where every minute and every dollar counts. While it’s not necessary to create tangible quantitative goals when starting an organization project, you should make sure you have goals in mind that are qualitative. A qualitative goal is based on emotion rather than a number, and it’s what will help you stay motivated as you work to improve your organization. When you set a goal, examine it closely and make sure you’re basing it on emotion. If you’re setting a goal because you know it will be a good thing for your business, but you’re not sure why then you might be setting the wrong goal. If you take the time to figure out why you’re setting the goal, you can end up setting yourself up for success.
Base your organization on the basics
Warehouses are designed to store specific items, so it makes sense to start your organization with a clean inventory list. You can use a physical or electronic inventory to track your items, depending on your warehouse layout and operational needs. If you use a physical inventory, simply write down the items you have on hand in your inventory list. This will let you know how much you have, and you can cross-reference it against your invoices if you’re auditing your inventory. If you use an electronic system, take this inventory information and input it into the system. This will let you know exactly how much of each item you have on hand, so you can quickly and easily spot any issues. As you work to organize your inventory, you should always keep an eye on your inventory levels. It’s important to maintain a healthy level of inventory to allow for stock-outs and disruptions in shipping, but it’s also important to keep a close eye on your inventory levels because it will help you manage your costs. If you end up with too much inventory, you’ll be able to quickly identify the problem and take action to remedy it.
Establish a central inventory database
For any operation to be successful, it needs to have a solid foundation. The same applies in a smaller warehouse, where an organized centralized database will significantly improve your operation. Every aspect of your business will benefit from a centralized database, from sales and order records to inventory and shipping calculations. Having all these records in one place will help your operations run more efficiently and also save you time when auditing your records. If you don’t already have a central database, you’re missing out on an extremely valuable asset. Anytime you can eliminate the need for multiple pieces of paper — either on paper or in a spreadsheet — you’re making your operation more efficient.
Set up an “On-Hand” system for stock keeping
Keeping track of quantities and inventory levels can be a daunting task when you’re dealing with a large warehouse. When dealing with a small operation, it’s also manageable, but you still need to keep track of quantities and inventory levels. Several solutions can help you track quantities and inventory levels, but an “on-hand” system can help you keep track of your stock also. An on-hand system will let you know how much of each item you have on hand and keep track of the condition of each item. An on-hand system can be simple, with a whiteboard or a spreadsheet to track information. However, bear in mind that the system should be able to update itself, so you don’t end up with a paper trail. If you need to track something, such as a specific part number or item condition, you should make it a requirement to use that system.
Add barcoding standards to your inventory system
Barcoding is a great way to help you manage your inventory, but it should be paired with an inventory management system that can help you keep track of the data. A barcode reader paired with a centralized database will allow you to collect all the data you need to keep your operation running smoothly. Several inventory management systems can help you manage your inventory. Some inventory management systems will allow you to track the data for multiple items such as items, parts, and materials. These systems can help you keep track of your inventory levels, and quantity and make barcoding easier. If you use a spreadsheet to track inventory levels, you can easily add barcodes to your inventory. You can also use a barcode generator to add barcodes to your spreadsheet. You can also use a barcode scanner to scan your inventory items and add them to your inventory system.
Distribute and catalog manually-handled goods
Handling goods in a warehouse doesn’t just mean handling pallets of product, it also involves handling paperwork. Paperwork that is found scattered haphazardly across desks, filing cabinets, and even the floor — where it’s inevitably going to get lost — is rarely in the best condition. To ensure your paperwork is in the best condition, you need to ensure that there is a system in place that keeps track of it and makes sure it is in an easily accessible state. A central filing system for paperwork should be a part of your warehouse operation from the very beginning. By starting with a system for paperwork, you can easily integrate it with your inventory management and barcoding systems. A filing cabinet or cabinet file system will help you to keep track of your paperwork and make it easier for you to find information when you need it. If you don’t have a filing system, you’re likely to spend more time searching for information than actually using it.
Use RFID to track items throughout the warehouse
One of the most exciting developments in inventory tracking is the implementation of radio frequency identification. RFID tags have been around for a while, but they were not as advanced as they are today. Today’s RFID technology allows you to track items throughout the warehouse and even gives you real-time information about your inventory levels. RFID tags are small, wireless devices that broadcast information such as item location and inventory level. To make sure the tags are the most up-to-date, you should regularly check them against your inventory database. When you have the most up-to-date information, you can easily keep track of your inventory levels, which will help you to avoid any issues. Because RFID tags are small and lightweight, they can be easily integrated into your existing systems and inventory tracking software. If you are using a system that is not compatible with RFID, you should change this as soon as possible.
Warehouse operations can be complex, but they don’t have to be overwhelming. With the right organization, you can keep track of everything you need to run your business, even if it means working a little harder in the process.