Here are 6 keep tips to optimizing your distribution center to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently.
1. Better Lighting
This first tip is often overlooked but it can be an easy and incredibly effective improvement to the efficiency of your warehouse or distribution center. Employees need to be able to see what they're doing, and subpar lighting can limit that. Installing bright and well-spaced lighting solutions can increase visibility among your shelves, making it easier for employees to see what they need quickly.
2. Organized and Clean
Keeping your warehouse or distribution center well organized involves a few different steps. First begin with a thoughtful floor plan, which makes it easy and intuitive for employees to move in an efficient way. Ensure there is plenty of space where employee tasks may overlap to ensure they can work simultaneously. Additionally, keep walkways clear and have a designated area for everything (including waste, tools, and other items) to ensure that nothing is in the way.
3. Prioritize Fast-moving Products
Your best sellers are picked from the shelf more often than the rest of your products, so they deserve the optimal shelf location. This means these products should be easily accessible, close to the ground or eye level depending on size, and near to the truck bays or work stations of your employees. Ensure that your employees can easily access the products quickly, as they will do so very frequently.
4. Cross Docking
Sometimes your bestsellers move so quickly that it actually wastes time to place them on shelves only to take them right back off. In these situations, consider utilizing cross-docking. Here, upon receiving a shipment, the best sellers are placed in a temporary holding area beside the docks or employee work stations. When items are needed, they are right there, and employees don't need to go and collect these items from shelves.
5. Automate your Data Collection
Collecting as much data as you can is essential to understanding your warehouse better. You should be collecting data on products as they move in and out of your warehouse, and throughout their stay on your shelves. This can be a time-consuming and extensive task to do manually, so instead, you should invest in automating this process. How you automate will depend on the limitations present in your physical warehouse and the products you sell.
6. Use an Inventory Management Solution
An inventory management solution can be a powerful tool for optimizing your warehouse or distribution center, especially when it benefits from a great deal of data that your warehouse is collecting. An IMS system can utilize this data to track your inventory automatically, avoiding the manual process of maintaining inventory. These systems also frequently have additional functions of warning when products are getting low, or recommending (or even completing) reorders of products that you will need soon.