E-commerce is becoming a leading force in today’s world, as consumers continue the slow but steady switch to digital shopping on an international scale. The UK is an e-commerce leader in this regard, with online shopping accounting for nearly a third of all retail.
From a business perspective, this makes warehouse management more important than ever before. As a business, you might not have been paying altogether close attention to your warehouse systems; what can you do to optimise them ahead of a paradigm shift in commercial industries?
Firstly, space is an unavoidably important consideration for warehouses of any size or scope. This is not just a question of whether you have enough space to operate, either. Instead, it is an evaluation of whether the space you have is doing the best it possibly can for your business.
Managing and optimising space can take a number of guises. If you have vertical space, you might extend your racking to fill that space; alternatively, you might build a mezzanine floor for more storage or administrative space. You might even adopt a new storage system, more on which shortly.
Invest in Staff
Staff are a vital consideration for any and every business, and logistics/warehouse management should be no different. Indeed, partitioning some of your budget towards staff investment can see greater short- and long-term returns with regard to productivity.
One key form this investment might take relates to safety. The safety of your staff is paramount for a variety of reasons, and going above and beyond in ensuring that safety can give your staff more confidence to work efficiently. Hi-vis clothing is essential for visibility in larger, darker warehouse spaces, while signage for moving vehicles and equipment can ensure no one is caught off-guard. Training, above all, is key – particularly when it comes to operating machinery such as forklifts.
The ‘digital revolution’ is by no means new, but there are still corners of certain industries slow to accept the transformational change that new technologies can offer. Logistics is one such corner, where smart technology and IoT enables more accurate tracking of product movements and more efficient fulfilment of orders.
Using smart sensors and machine learning programmes, there is even the opportunity to take an AI- and automation-led approach to optimising storage, utilising tailor-made methods to get the most efficient processing numbers from your available space.
Lastly, maintenance is a crucial aspect of keeping a warehouse both safe and running smoothly. Hydraulic equipment requires regular servicing and maintenance, while static equipment such as racking and shelving needs regular checks to avoid preventable accidents. Taking a preventative, as opposed to a reactive, approach to this ensures maximum safety and minimal interruption of operations.
The needs of your own warehouse or logistics system will naturally differ from those of other enterprises and organisations – rendering any suggestions or advice general at best. Ultimately, it is down to you as leader or manager to evaluate the best methods by which to improve your warehouse management, whether based on cost or general feasibility.