Every warehouse is going to experience problems from time to time. There will be accidents and injuries. Products will be damaged. There will be cleaniness issues. There might also be inventory management errors.
When these problems occur, supervisors need to address the employees and review operational and safety procedures. But sometimes there are other issues at the root of the problem that are going unaddressed.
See if any of these problems sound familiar and consider whether your warehouse itself needs to be reorganized to address them.
1. High Number of Injuries or Accidents
If you find that your warehouse – or one of your warehouses – has a noticeably higher number of safety incidents each year, it’s understable to assume that the problems lies with employees not following safety procedures or something of that nature. But the problem might actually be due to other issues related to physical layout or organizational issues.
There could be a number of separate issues here. For example, if you’re using a back aisle of the warehouse to stockpile damaged goods and returns that you plan to sell later, that could become problematic and cause safety hazards.
Also, if employees are frequently running through the warehouse to items, that might be another problem where the solution is not simply about employees ignoring OSHA rules and company safety procedures.
2. Visible Clutter and Uncleanliness
When back aisles are cluttered with damaged products, or when there are bulky items stacked on the floors or leaned up against walls and shelves, that is a major safety problem.
All items need to be on shelves and off the floor. And no items should be leaning against walls or against shelves, poles or other structures. Make room for those items and give them their own space on the shelves.
If they are discontinued or damaged, organize a clearance sale with heavy discounts and then dump the unsold items and write them off.
3. Long Picking Times for Specific Products
If you have employees running to grab items and get them out the door on time, of course you need to address common-sense safety policies with them and with the supervisor who is pressuring them or allowing them to run in the warehouse.
But a deeper issue might be at the root of the problem. Why are they running? Do you have hot-selling items buried deep in some back corner of the warehouse? Best-selling items should be kept closer to the packing area or to the conveyor belts while less-frequently sold items can take up those remote spaces way in the back.
4. Customer Complaints of Misordered Items
Frequent, wrong-item returns are another hint that the warehouse might be disorganized. Obviously, human error is a problem, since both the picker and the packer overlooked the wrong item being pulled from stock.
But if this is happening frequently, could there be another issue? Sometimes items are mislabeled on the shelves or in the bins. Sometimes similar items with similar product numbers are stored to close to one another, increasing the likelihood of human error.
And maybe the real issue is that the company is stubbornly refusing to use install technology that could greatly reduce these errors caused by hand-picking and checking items rather than scanning them.
This is a common problem with small businesses that have been around for 20 years or more. They just keep doing things the way they’ve been doing them and refuse to adapt new technologies.
5. Frequent Out-of-Stock Items and Miscounts
If inventory is off by one or two items frequently, it could be due to human error or even employee theft. But this problem often goes hand-in-hand with the problem above, and the solution is often the same as well.
Scanning items while picking orders will significantly reduce or even eliminate human error, resulting in less wrong items being pulled from stock, less inventory miscounts and less lost sales due to out-of-stock items.
If your warehouse is experiencing one of more of these five problems on a regular basis, you might need to do more than simply review procedures with employees. You might need to reorganize your warehouse to minimize walk times, reduce accidents and increase product count accuracy.