Improving workforce efficiency is an important task of any warehouse manager. According to a recent survey most managers recognize the fact that their facility is not running at optimal efficiency, but they feel there is little they can do about it. While most warehouse managers may know that their facility is not running as it should, it is unlikely that they really understand just how much wasted time and effort they have in their facility.
Specifically, the survey found that mid-sized warehouses (approximately 50 workers) lose almost 3,000 hours a year due to workforce inefficiencies. Additionally, while 89 percent of those surveyed indicated that new technology could help managers recoup these inefficiencies, only 70 percent had conducted a thorough review of practices in the warehouse in the past year.
LeanCor – Supply Chain Group, 4. April 2013
These numbers are quite staggering when they are looked at closely. 3000 hours per year translates to approximately 57 hours per week, which is more than a full time employee. Most warehouses complain that they are understaffed, but the fact is they are more than likely just working inefficiently. Taking the time to look at what work is being done, and how the employees are performing the work, is an essential part of a warehouse manager’s job.
Maintaining a Process Log
When warehouse managers maintain a detailed process log they are able to identify inefficiencies much more quickly. Everyone knows that proper documentation is essential for making positive changes, but few managers are actually taking the time to do this documentation. This is, perhaps, because documentation takes time and effort, but when done properly it will offset this time by the improved efficiencies it allows for.
When companies are able to identify exactly where problems occur they should work to prevent them. Most facilities, however, have little quality control in place. This means when a mistake is made it is almost impossible to find out who was responsible for the problem. In some cases the mistakes aren’t even discovered until they hear a complaint from the actual customers.
When companies emphasize accountability, they are able to find the problem areas and address them immediately. This eliminates a lot of wasted time and effort, and also improves the overall quality of the services which are being provided.
Another area where most warehouse managers fail to properly manage their team is in the area of ongoing education. There are many changes which are put in place in these types of facilities, and if there is no training provided with the changes, it can be a disaster. Offering ongoing training on the policies and procedures of a facility is an essential component of ensuring the warehouse is running efficiently.
The last thing warehouse management should consider is the visibility of the management team. When people working on the floor know that the leadership team is always somewhere in the area, they are less likely to waste time and energy. They are also less likely to let a small problem go, because they know that they are likely to be discovered. Leadership presents also allows people to interact more directly with their management team, which opens the door for many improvement opportunities.
- Warehouse Management (Supply Chain Systems + Visual Management)– creativesafetysupply.com
- 5 Value Added Tips for a Lean Warehouse– 5snews.com
- 10 Warehouse Best Practices– blog.creativesafetysupply.com
- Warehouse Traffic Control to Improve Forklift Safety– floor-tape.com
- 5 Tips to Motivate Excellence– kaizen-news.com
- Poka Yoke – Mistake Proofing– lean-news.com
- What is Gemba & How it Can Benefit Your Facility– iecieeechallenge.org
- Human Factors – How Do They Impact Safety?– realsafety.org
- Pipe Marking in the Warehouse – 5 Tips– warehousepipemarking.com