warehouse management system

3 Steps to Fixing a Messy Warehouse

An unorganized or messy warehouse indicates more than a penchant for clutter.

Over time, a warehouse can look messy because it accumulates materials and often, personal possessions. It’s normal, but not always ideal. It can indicate a lack of consideration for inventory through a warehouse management system and even problems with employee safety.

Encumbrances in the warehouse aisles (pallets, shrink wrap, etc.) are safety hazards that affect the throughput rate per warehouse worker. If you think about it, this directly impacts the profitability of the site. There may be good reasons why a warehouse is difficult to clean, like dust from a gravel parking lot or an unsealed floor. Cleanliness is a confidence builder, so it’s important to take a fresh look at good warehousekeeping.

The people who view the same environment every single day don’t “see” it the same way as an outsider might. A warehouse manager may know where every piece of inventory resides, even if the facility looks jumbled and unorganized. But, to other people, a messy warehouse can signal deeper problems with a facility and the business.

Establishing standards for order and cleanliness in a warehouse can actually pay huge dividends. Good warehousekeeping can result in better customer service through great inventory management. PathGuide would suggest investing in a warehouse management system if your operating from paper.

Step 1: Designate a “warehouse champion”

In most instances, a clean and organized warehouse has a “champion” on board. A visionary, often the warehouse supervisor, will identify ways the warehouse can add value to the organization and its customers. A warehouse champion believes in technology as a solution such as a warehouse management system.

Choosing a warehouse champion is the single most important step in any warehouse improvement efforts. In the same way that you wouldn’t get an NFL team to the Super Bowl without a coach, you won’t be successful changing the way your warehouse works without a warehouse champion.

Step 2: Assess the state of the warehouse

The warehouse champion’s first order of business will be to undertake an honest assessment of the state of the warehouse needs to take place. The warehouse champion will ask themselves:

• Are the aisles clear of debris?
• Where are returns and write-offs? They should be in a designated area and not scattered throughout the facility.
• Are pallets neatly stacked?

A warehouse champion can look at the warehouse clutter and see more than a mess. They see specific problem areas with opportunity for processes to clean things up. For instance, a pile of boxes in the middle of an aisle may seem normal, but it actually indicates a larger problem with how bins are organized. Simply cleaning up the boxes isn’t enough. The warehouse champion should know how to reorganize the bins so that unpacking happens where it should.

Step 3: Let the clean-up begin

Warehouse clean-up can, and should be, a group effort. While the warehouse champion is the designated leader of the warehousekeeping effort, every warehouse employee should be taking part.

Your warehouse champion will start the effort by setting rules for clean-up. How clutter is to be dealt with, ground rules for reporting inefficiencies, and guidelines for the disposal of packing materials and other debris should be delegated by the warehouse champion. An investment in disposal containers, like recycling and garbage bins, might be necessary. In other situations, your solution might be as simple as creating an unpacking station within receiving to remove and dispose of excess packing materials. Warehouse champions also develop standards for how to deal with deadstock, write-offs, and returns. These items need to be organized into centralized areas to make them easy to find and dealt with.

Clutter reduction

Reducing your warehouse clutter improves the picking efficiency and throughput, as well as morale, employee safety, and profitability. So, take a look around. Really look at the state of the warehouse. Use that visual survey to start down the road to more profitability through good warehousekeeping.

Lastly, investing in warehouse management solutions like PathGuide’s Latitude WMS means that your client knows that it can depend on your warehouse and its processes.