At Premier Lift Trucks we have years of experience in using our forklifts to establish an efficient working environment. That’s why we are sharing our knowledge so you can benefit from what we know. Everything suggested below is guaranteed to declutter the inside of your warehouse.
1. Set Goals
Whether it is a new warehouse or your old one, setting goals is a necessary step. In this portion, you should be setting a plan for a layout and deciding how strictly you want to adhere to that layout. You should be considering these key things:
- Safety: Is the warehouse plan going to be safe to work in
- Logistics: Do the locations of your inventory make sense
- Readability: Will new workers be able to pick up and understand the layout fast
2. The inside of a warehouse needs a map
Following on from the readability and logistics aspects of the goal setting, the inside of your warehouse needs a map. When you reorganise your warehouse it is highly likely inventory is going to move. This means people with years of experience working in your warehouse are likely to get confused. That’s why your map should feature these things:
- Colour coding: Mark different areas on inventory in different colours or different processes
- Use a key: In the bottom corner of your map indicate the meaning of different icons and colours, your map should be easy to understand for a new employee
- Pick a good font: If your map has writing on it, which we highly recommend, pick a font style and size that will be easy to read
3. Mark warehouse inventory
Labelling your inventory is one way to ensure an organised warehouse. Once you’ve established your warehouse layout, labels will show your employees where to find things and what contents are stored in boxes or pallets. A coloured label can be used to indicate the weight of the item. For example, light items can be marked with a green label, suggesting they can be picked up and moved by your employees. A red label can mark items that need a forklift to move because of their heavy weight.
Make sure labels are kept up to date. This will ensure the safety of your staff and make it easy to navigate and store your inventory. This allows new and temporary employees to not hinder your workflow.
4. Workout storage capacity
Workout your maximum storage capacity. If you have racks and shelving, you can use a tape measure to find the height x width x depth to find storage capacity. If you have just purchased the warehouse, you might be able to ask them for this figure.
We recommend carrying out this step before finalising your map. Some items might not fit where you wanted them to go. Additionally, it allows you to work out if you have any wasted space. With a warehouse, you are paying for every bit of storage space so it’s important to waste nothing.
5. Classifying your stock
Not only does this aid in improving the appearance of your warehouse but the efficiency of it too. Mark your fastest moving stock A to your slowest moving stock which you mark as D. You do this by seeing how frequently these items are picked.
This allows you to focus on making sure the areas with consistently moving stock are placed in the same location.
6. Use storage devices
So far the warehouse management we have established is useful for larger items. However, you need to be able to organise even the smallest items. That’s why we suggest using dividers, totes and bins. Labels with barcodes can be attached to these dividers. This means if you use something like an RF gun, even the smallest items can have their stock accounted for.
7. Manage how you receive stock
If you don’t have at least one employee that’s designated to receive and store your stock when it enters your building you are potentially losing out on valuable inventory. Without checking your arriving stock you could be receiving damaged or too little stock.
Additionally, you should be immediately storing your stock to reduce wasted space. It will reduce the build-up of any clutter.
8. Documenting returns
In addition to receiving new stock, don’t forget to factor in the returning stock. While this might be covered with receiving, figure out a step by step guide for receiving returns. Depending on your return policy, this stock might be ready to ship back out. If the items are damaged, you might need to implement a system for unrepairable or broken items. Missing returns mean revenue lost. An efficient warehouse documents every single one of their returns.
9. Look into automated storage
As humans, we are prone to errors. Adding an automated storage retrieval system (ASRS) can prevent damage and theft from occurring at your facility. In conjunction with your employees, you can safely guard your items and keep your stock levels at the correct figure year-round. ASRS takes your stock directly to an operator at a workstation by simply pushing a button.
Just watch the video below to see an ASRS in action.
10. Keep necessary stock
Overstocking can be another issue. Keep an eye on stock, seasonal items sell at polarising rates throughout the year so make sure to manage your stock accordingly.
Just-in-time practises (JIT) mean you can bring in what you need when you need it. It can be helpful to take counts of how much inventory you move of your seasonal stock every year, so you can predict trends.
11. Utilise safety stock
Despite what we previously mentioned having a minimum amount of stock of items is necessary. Spikes in sales could mean you risk losing out on providing customers with items they expect. This can be damaging to your company’s reputation if customers are constantly complaining about not getting what they want.
12. Regularly check stock
You could continue doing one big yearly stock check, but you risk huge amounts of stock going missing and unaccounted for. By doing them monthly or even weekly you can control safety stock and prevent in-house theft.
This task must be shared by multiple employees so that there is no chance of inventory numbers being fabricated. It also prevents this potentially rather monotonous task from becoming too demanding on one employee.
13. Utilise a warehouse management system
With a warehouse management system (WMS) you can maintain an organised warehouse with real-time inventory tracking. From managing inventory levels and stock locations, a WMS provides all the information you need to run an efficient warehouse. Over time you can learn how to read this information to create the optimal warehouse for your business.
14. Employee training
Keep all your employees trained so they can carry out their job to the best of their ability. Not only does it keep your warehouse working efficiently but it keeps your employees safe. This should always be the number one priority of your business. Health and safety should be a focus of any training.
While handling group training sessions you can use this time to get ideas for improving your warehouse. Ask questions like:
- Do you think your level of training is satisfactory?
- Is the warehouse layout easy to understand?
- Can you think of any ways to improve the warehouse?
15. Keep your workspace clear
Spending 10 minutes at the start and end of shifts to clear surfaces and aisles could sound like wasted time. You might believe your employees are better off working from the very start to the end of their shift on other tasks. But combining the effort of your team to clean your warehouse twice a day you can keep your warehouse clean and organised. It also means that you can find any damaged and lost stock that might have fallen or been dropped. This is particularly useful if you have stock that isn’t being stored securely.
16. Carry out maintenance
Check your racking and shelving are still in good condition and replace them if damaged. Different items as well will have different timelines for how often they need to be checked. Guides on how to keep your equipment in working condition are particularly useful. Likely your warehouse uses a forklift for transporting goods so check out our guide on inspecting your forklift. In-depth guides like this can reduce any downtime caused by equipment that is broken or too dangerous to use.
17. Organise again
It is important when your business runs for multiple years from the same warehouse to revisit these steps.
Forklift hire from Premier
Your warehouse management structure needs forklifts. Without a forklift, you could be spending hours moving stock that could be arranged in minutes! So consider hiring a forklift. Our forklift hire periods can be as short as a single day, while customised deals are available on long-term rentals of up to five years.
There’s also no need to worry about receiving a non-functional forklift. All our forklifts are subject to regular checks.
If you are constantly rearranging the inside of your warehouse then buying a forklift is definitely the better choice. So make sure to check out our range of new and used forklift trucks. You can find a premium forklift at a great price on our website, Premier Fork Lifts.