The 7 Fundamentals of Successful Warehousing

In times past, important concepts came in groups of seven – 7 cardinal virtues, 7 deadly sins, and 7 wonders of the world. 

Today, a well-run warehouse is supported by the seven fundamentals.

1) The Warehouse Management Team

The warehouse management team is the key to a successful warehouse operation. Great managers guide daily performance, coach and encourage the team, and plan for continuous improvement. A tired old warehouse led by an excellent manager will outperform the sparkling new facility under mediocre leadership. The best managed facility running PathGuide’s Latitude WMS is seven times as productive as the median establishment.     

2) Warehouse Management System (WMS) 

The WMS is a tool that empowers the warehouse manager to control and guide the operation. It should support all current processes, be expandable to support future growth, and seamlessly interface to the host ERP system. PathGuide’s Latitude WMS manages facilities from 10,000 square feet to over 500,000 square feet.

3) Warehousing Best Practices

The methods and procedures that are currently appropriate for your operation. Every warehouse and business situation has its own special needs. The fundamentals of best practices for a giant retail distribution center will differ markedly from those of a mid-sized industrial distributor. Best practices typically require a strong WMS to guide and track the underlying processes.

4) Training

Employees must be trained on procedures, including interaction with the WMS. The excellent manager spends quality time with each team member to coach and encourage him or her. The WMS provides individual performance data to inform the manager as to who needs what specific training.

5) Employee Motivation

Employee motivation can begin as simply asposting charts of comparative performance to encourage competition. After some data have been collected from the WMS, standards should be established for each warehouse task. Employees who exceed standards can be rewarded informally with perks or specific prizes. Ultimately, a formal gain sharing program can entice an appreciable increase in productivity. Productivity increases of 30% have been reported.

6) Physical Plant

An excellent warehouse includes adequate dock capacity, ample staging areas, appropriate storage (pallet rack, shelving, flow rack etc.), and suitable equipment (carts, pallet jacks, fork lifts, order picking trucks, etc.). In general, a single level warehouse is preferable, but conveyors and other mechanization can make a multi-level facility nearly as efficient. The excellent warehouse manager plays a proactive role in planning physical improvements.

7) Automation Technology

This includes vertical and horizontal carousels, conveyors, automatic stacker cranes, automatic pallet wrappers and many other mechanizations. The forward thinking warehouse manager will periodically evaluate potential automation projects.  The guiding principle here is whether any proposed automation investment provides an acceptable financial return. Picking rates using a well engineered bank of horizontal carousels can be three to four times those possible from fixed shelving.

By combining these seven fundamentals, you will streamline your warehouse processes and allow it to run at maximum efficiency – resulting in an increase to your bottom line.

To learn how PathGuide can support your warehouse success, give us a call at 1-888-627-9797 or request a customized demo today.