How to Optimize Your Warehouse Management System

As economies become integrated and globalized, the fields of logistics and warehousing are feeling the strain. In order to successfully deal with shipping deadlines and customer demands, most warehouse managers rely on warehouse management systems (WMS) to remain efficient, organized and competitive. What follows are some tips on how to keep a warehouse smoothly operating with optimized processes.

Warehouse Layout
Most warehouses simply need to first analyze your stock layout to determine which items are typically shipped together and which items are in highest demand. It makes sense to physically organize the warehouse based on seller preferences and supply trends. A warehouse management system will allow warehouse managers to run reports that comparatively analyze order data and statistically reveal product trends. Picking time will be decreased and order fulfillments will be faster by placing popular products closely together. Optimizing the picking process is one of the keys to developing efficient systems that reduce wasted labor and time.

Just in Time
Just in Time (JIT) is a complex manufacturing, shipping and production process that aligns the products supply and demand cycles in order to reduce inventories and costs. This translates to incoming orders being immediately repacked and shipped to end users. While this takes a lot of effort and coordination, warehouse management systems will simplify the process by synchronizing shipment activities. JIT shipping works best with a dedicated base of customers who consistently order similar products. Trying to implement JIT shipping in a poorly organized warehouse that experiences demand spikes and transportation issues is a recognizable mistake.

Reduce Traffic Barriers.
While it is logical to keep items out of the aisles and main packing areas, many warehouses become so busy that they forget to move canceled shipments and unpack low priority items. These barriers and the associated clutter quickly add up to major bottlenecks that drastically reduce traffic and warehouse efficiency. Consider labeling areas and using color coded lines to indicate packing, unpacking and storage zones. Keeping a zone free for emergency storage needs will actually increase operational efficiency. Also, be sure to instigate strict housekeeping rules with employees that apply when their shifts are over. Be sure to give employees enough time to straight up and organize products before their shift ends.

Adopt a Collaborative Approach
Mandatory weekly meetings that encourage feedback and welcome constructive criticism are a powerful tool. However, these meetings can turn into opportunities for pessimistic, dominating employees to vent frustrations and slow down proactive improvement activities. Weekly meetings need to be structured with guidelines and driven by results. This means that employees who complain about problems are responsible to help solve them. An action assignment list will ensure that everyone, including management, is held accountable to deal with problems.

Finally, be sure to continuously train employees and document processes and standardize operations.