Maximizing space within a warehouse and positioning items to improve efficiency can add up to significant financial and time savings. The layout and design of a warehouse and a distribution network should be an ongoing process. Shippers can improve their food warehousing and distribution with these six strategies:
1. Improve Slotting Patterns
Placing high-velocity pick items as close to the door and as tightly together as possible can help warehouses improve their efficiency. In many cases, engineers can help determine where products should be positioned.
To determine optimal slotting patterns, shippers can look at and share their historical sales data, including volumes and A, B, C and D movers, along with their forecasted demand and seasonality. That data will not only tell shippers and their warehouse management providers what to stock, but also where to position it to get the top movers out of the door faster.
To help pick items more efficiently, a number of warehouses use a voice-pick system and employees can close out orders as they pick them, using their voice and an index finger scanner.
2. Examine Labor Standards
As a best practice, warehouses should have labor management time standards. Utilizing software can help manage the movement of people and track their productivity. The results should then be evaluated every day after every shift to ensure employees are meeting their productivity standards.
3. Increase Communication
Many companies can have operations throughout multiple divisions, and frequently they operate independently of each other with very little communication existing between the divisions. As a 3PL, that is where Penske can add value and look at their network. We may also find another customer that has complementary activities or different seasons, and we can work together.
4. Upgrade Technology
Improving a location's warehouse management software can provide several benefits, including the traceability of products, which will become even more important as new food safety standards take effect.
Additionally, technology to maximize workforce productivity is especially valuable in the warehouse. Penske uses scheduling technology that generates schedules based on associate input and allows associates to communicate with each other if they need to trade shifts. The system provides an easier and more efficient way to schedule associates and helps employees find the work-life balance they need.
5. Create a Contingency Plan
Contingency planning can range from pre-planning for a natural disaster to knowing how to ramp up operations if business increases suddenly. It can mean knowing what you'll need to do if you have to flex to 120%, understanding what that looks like, and having it pre-defined rather than scrambling to build it.
6. Replenish at the Shelf Level
In some cases, a logistics provider will not only deliver goods they pick up at the warehouse, but also will stock customers' shelves as well. Drivers can replenish the end-users' shelves at night when the business is closed.
More and more, that is what companies are looking for. They want a program where they send Penske a replenishment order and we stock down to the shelf level. This way it is much more customer-service focused.
For those types of relationships to be successful, the drivers receive additional training and gain an understanding of the store managers' preferences. The driver has a relationship with the store manager. It is basically customer service with a delivery attached.