By Tompkins Solutions
A high-functioning distribution center is a crucial part of any supply chain. It plays a significant role in receiving inventory, expediting shipping processes, getting things where they need to go and keeping inventory moving.
When distribution centers are inefficient, the whole system fails. That’s where supply chain optimization comes in.
The first step of any optimization project is to thoroughly assess your current operations. This will help you identify any bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your facility. Below are five areas to evaluate when looking to increase efficiency and productivity within your warehouse operations.
If your facility isn’t designed with your workers in mind, it can lead to a number of problems. For example, if your workers must walk long distances to retrieve items or struggle to find them, that can decrease productivity over time.
Your distribution center should also be designed to promote safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4.8 out of every 100 warehouse workers suffer from work-related injuries each year. This can lead to lost workdays, low morale and higher workers’ compensation costs.
Your facility’s processes may be invisible, but they’re a key aspect of your operations. When your processes are inefficient, they can lead to serious problems down the line.
When examining your operational processes, consider the following:
- Are items being stored in the most efficient way possible?
- Can items be picked and packed more quickly?
- Is there a way to reduce the number of steps or touches involved in each process?
- What processes can be automated?
By evaluating your processes, you can make changes that will lead to more efficient warehouse operations.
Your distribution center’s assets enable your operations to function. They include things like:
- Robotic solutions
If your assets don’t properly serve your space and operations, they can lead to inefficiencies and wasted time. For example, if you’re working with outdated technology or improperly sized racks or aisles, you might be facing the risk of higher costs, more errors and continued delays.
Your warehouse’s systems also play a vital role in its operations. They help you manage inventory, track orders and communicate with customers.
When examining your systems, you should ask yourself if they are meeting your needs. Do they provide end-to-end visibility across all systems? Are they intuitive? Are they up to date? If not, it may be time to make some changes.
5) Warehouse Layout
The layout of your distribution center plays a significant role in its efficiency and productivity. Unfortunately, many warehouses are still using outdated layout designs, which makes it challenging to meet the demands of today’s consumers.
In many cases, companies realize they need to update their distribution operations to keep up with changing order volumes and profiles. This may involve adding new technology, expanding the facility or making other operational changes to help support your current and future requirements.