When we are asked to perform a warehouse operations assessment for a client, the first thing I like to do is take a quick walk around the warehouse. It may surprise you, but it is usually possible to determine what we will see during the detailed assessment in the first minute or two of the walk around. The initial impression gained in the warehouse is a pretty good indicator of how efficient and productive the operation will be.
I usually put together a few observations occurring in that first few minutes that can be a good indication of what to expect when the detailed operations assessment is underway.
These are some actual situations I have encountered recently during the first quick walk around:
- In a 25 foot clear stacking height warehouse, only the bottom10 feet were utilized for storage.
- Pick slots were all the same size.
- Locations were not clearly numbered in a logical schema.
- Pallets and boxes were found in the aisles.
- The “dust factor” on product was significant.
- Employees work pace was slow.
- Pick slot replenishments were taking place while picking was going on
- Product was backed up on the receiving dock and the returns area.
- There was a lot of trash and debris between racks and behind pallets.
- Food wrappings and cups were found on the floor.
- Break rooms or cafeteria areas were a mess.
- Pack stations were cluttered and disorganized.
- Pickers were picking one order at a time while walking the entire pick line.
- Packers were walking to find the right packaging materials for their orders.
- Warehouse staff were being held up and delayed due to congestion and interference.
Most people point out that warehousing is not “rocket science”. This is true, but if you run an inefficient warehouse operation with some or all of the symptoms above; satisfying your customers and having them return to buy again can be as difficult as landing a man on the moon.
Take a look at your warehouse to see what condition you are in and develop a plan to correct it. Remember that the key requirements to running a good warehouse are a common sense approach, discipline in making sure procedures are followed, structure to make it possible to change, and a positive environment where employees want to succeed.