2021 > The #1 Way to Increase Productivity in Your Warehouse (Hero Board)

Want to know the most effective and the most important step towards optimizing your warehouse output? 

There are plenty of opinions on the internet from reliable experts, with “50+ tips for warehouse efficiency”, that cover resolving certain issues or improving minor practices, but we wanted to cut through the noise to find the ONE suggestion that will have the most impact on your supply chain, inventory management and order fulfillment. 

We searched for the single pearl of wisdom amongst many best practices and our own warehousing innovations. Notable suggestions to boost warehouse productivity included:

  • Create a picking path by location
  • Organize bins by popularity
  • Separate bulk items from small picks
  • Optimize stocking levels for easy inventory rotation
  • Incorporate employee feedback to identify bottlenecks
  • Reserve capacity for last-minute emergencies
  • Track shipping status to predict inventory requirements

While effective, each of the aforementioned suggestions rely on one major capability, and without it, your supply chain will NEVER improve productivity. So, what is the #1 capability for improving your warehouse productivity?

Measure & Benchmark Your Supply Chain

Simply put, your business must have the right tools in place to measure and access vital data relating to the productivity of your warehouse in each departmental area. The quality of the information you receive directly impacts how effectively you set realistic productivity goals and speed up work pace in a sustainable manner.

Picking, packing, and inventory replenishment are the three areas of focus when beginning to make systemic improvements to your warehouse. It’s important not to measure everything at once; rather, start by identifying your biggest cost-drivers or bottlenecks and address those first, such as labor hours, units of work, etc. In each area of focus, ask yourself the following questions:

Picking

Picking is the process of walking through the warehouse and selecting products that constitute one or more orders. You can begin measuring this process by asking the following:

  • Picking time and routes: Do you know how long it takes to pick items and complete orders? What routes to pickers take? Are picking routes efficient?
  • Worker productivity: Who are the workers that are more productive and less prone to errors? Are you compensating these workers accordingly? Are you properly staffed?
  • Warehouse layout: What are your most-picked products or combination of products? Do you adjust SKUs based on sales velocity to reduce picking time?
  • Employee suggestions: Are you listening to your employees? Do you have a place to log their suggestions and take action?

Packing

Packing is the process of verifying the order contents and putting the ordered items into the shipping package. You can begin measuring this process by asking the following:

  • Overall evaluation: Every operation is different. What are the major factors that make or break the speed of your packing operation? 
  • Workstation design: Is your workstation designed as efficiently as possible? Are there improvements to be made to the top size or worker spacing?
  • Material availability: Are cartons, inserts, and any personalization items available and sufficiently stocked at each station?
  • Automation opportunity: Are there processes that can be automated, such as envelope insertion, box building, etc.
  • Employee suggestions: Are you listening to your employees? Do you have a place to log their suggestions and take action?

Inventory Replenishment

Inventory replenishment is the process of restocking bins with products so that orders can be picked, and errors in replenishment can result in serious cascading bottlenecks in the picking and packing processes. You can begin measuring this process by asking the following:

  • Replenishment levels: What inventory levels trigger your restocking process? Are these built to scale with bulk orders?
  • Distribution duration: Is your replenishment process intelligently informed by manufacturing and distribution times? Does your network of warehouses communicate to overcome any unexpected shortages?
  • Employee suggestions: Are you listening to your employees? Do you have a place to log their suggestions and take action?

The most efficient supply chains run on information. The key to improving warehouse productivity is asking the right questions, measuring the actual outcome, and planning for incremental improvements. Without measurements and benchmarks, you will be stuck reacting to issues, rather than proactively planning and systematically working towards a better warehouse.

ShipHero’s HeroBoard

ShipHero WMS constantly strives to provide you with the information that you need to make intelligent decisions regarding your warehouse management and order fulfillment. That’s why we built the HeroBoard — a personalized dashboard designed to give an at-a-glance view of your fulfillment operations.

The HeroBoard overview dashboard refreshes every 30 seconds for real-time monitoring of your shipments. Want to get into the specifics? HeroBoard users can easily drill down into specific order information for better customer service and flexible decision-making.

The Live Shipping Board is the newest update to the HeroBoard that gives you a view into the stats for each packer, remaining orders, and more!

Schedule a demo today.