ARPAC Blog

Simple Steps to an Organized Warehouse

Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Terry Kerr

7 Steps to a Clean, Organized Warehouse

Every warehouse must serve similar basic purposes: to receive new inventory, and to safely store that inventory, and to distribute products to customers. But warehouse clutter and disorganization can – if ignored – lead to long-term inefficiency and safety concerns. Beyond this, it can impact your bottom line.You keep a hectic schedule. You comply with basic safety regulations that keep your operations and employees safe. But in the day-to-day rush to deliver your products on time, your warehouse may become cluttered and disorganized.

Here are a few steps to keep your warehouse clean, organized, and efficient.

1. Revise your cleaning plan.

If you own a small business, you may find that your budget is too tight to have your warehouse professionally cleaned on a daily or weekly basis. However, you can pay attention to the areas of greatest clutter. Take a look at your docking area where packing materials accumulate, and watch out for stacks of unused pallets.

Track your operations flow for a week to locate the most cluttered zones and work stations. Then, revise your cleaning goals accordingly.

2. Put it on the calendar.

Once you’ve re-assessed the cleaning plan, assign priority cleaning tasks to your calendar. First make a list of critical daily tasks (sweeping floors, cleaning slick spots/spills, wiping down machinery, emptying garbage, etc.). Then, decide what tasks need to be completed weekly or monthly.

Marking it on a calendar helps maintain focus while establishing routines which will when you are busy with other priorities of your business.

Post these duties in the most visible areas throughout the warehouse, and offer weekly reminders and periodic spot-checks to help employees follow through. Consider giving incentives to employees who keep zones clean on a regular basis.

3. Give employees ownership over cleaning tasks.

Speaking of employee incentives, don't discount the power of convenience when it comes to cleaning. If you make it simple to wipe down an assembly line by keeping cleaning supplies nearby, employees are more likely to feel they can assume ownership for the task.

Further, the convenience of having cleaning supplies nearby will increase the likelihood that employees will clean in between other tasks. Make sure you have adequate garbage cans, and be sure to assign employees to empty them into larger receptacles.

4. Use the right warehouse management software.

Most warehouse managers know that the right management and inventory software can make or break their operations. When you get an expedited order, you’ll be right on top of it. Your employees will know exactly how much inventory to order and ship.

Look first at your current management system to assess its accuracy and efficiency. When you see gaps in efficiency, take note of them. Then, you'll be better able to find an affordable option that matches your company's goals.

5. Assess your warehouse floor plan and storage layout.

If your employees find your method of inventory storage confusing, your warehouse loses valuable time and money every time you fill an order. Pay attention to forklift traffic between the shelves and loading dock. You could be putting employee safety at risk simply because there are too many trucks entering and exiting certain aisles.

Re-assess your floor plan, paying special attention to where there is particularly high or low traffic. You should store items that don’t sell as frequently in narrow aisles that will experience less traffic additionally store slow movers at upper shelf levels outside of the “golden zone” for picking.

6. Refine your picking and order fulfillment methods.

What SKUs make up the bulk of your orders? Be sure you group those products in a sizeable zone that allows forklift operators and pickers to easily maneuver between aisles and around other pickers. If you've properly laid out your storage floor plan your high-volume zone can accommodate multiple trucks in the aisles.

Keep in mind that you can choose to organize your inventory in a different way. It doesn't matter if you use zone picking or single product line picking; the point is, your layout needs to work for your industry and your business's goals.

Another thing to consider is product size and weight. If heavier items are kept close to your heavy duty equipment, you'll be able to improve workflow and productivity. You’ll also reduce worker fatigue.

7. Streamline your product line and warehouse travel time.

Assessing your product line may seem like an unending task, but it can lead to increased space and more efficient order fulfillment. After you evaluate your product line, you may be able to eliminate infrequent sellers from your inventory altogether. By doing this, you may be able to carry fewer container sizes, saving further time and money.

Regardless of whether you standardize your products and shipping options, you may want to look into automation if travel time is problematic. Automation cuts the time it takes to get products on or off the shelves. If automation isn't an option right now, consider saving some of your warehouse travel time with a better tow tractor.

By following these steps to warehouse efficiency, you'll improve your work environment, stay safe, and save costs. Check the Arpac blog frequently for more ideas that help you get the most from your warehouse equipment every day.