12 Best Practices for Warehouse Productivity
Warehouse Productivity Best Practices

12 Best Practices for Warehouse Productivity

Have you noticed a decrease in warehouse productivity?

If so, the experts at Hy-Tek Material Handling, LLC. offer these great tips to help get you back on track for increased efficiency in your facility.

  1. Specific job descriptions using SOPs
    • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are critical elements of a warehouse operation. SOPs provide detailed guidance to associates about how specific job functions should be performed safely and efficiently to gain warehouse productivity.
    • SOPs should be maintained and updated as processes change.
  2. Formal training programs by job function
    • Formalized training programs should be developed for each job function in the warehouse to ensure work is performed accurately and consistently.
    • Part of the training program should include a sign-off process where a supervisor verifies the associate actively demonstrates an understanding of the SOPs and training.
  3. Ongoing Coaching/Counseling process to encourage management involvement and receive employee feedback (Idea box, and good ideas get recognized)
    • The coaching facilitates and promotes interaction between associates and management and fosters teamwork.
    • Employee feedback allows the associates to have a voice in the warehouse. It will enable associates to influence change in the warehouse with firsthand experience and take ownership of how the warehouse performs.
  4. Daily KPI & other key metrics reporting
    • Allows associates to see and understand how their increased performance increases warehouse productivity.
    • Associates can better visualize the short and long-term objectives of the warehouse.
    • Managers can better plan staffing needs with well-established KPIs and associate them with cost.
  5. Regular (monthly or quarterly) systems functionality review meetings & systems redesign as needed
    • Ensure the warehouse support systems improve the functionality rather than hinder or limit warehouse productivity.
    • Systems occasionally need to be reviewed to prepare for upcoming process changes to be supported systemically.
    • System redesigns should be supported at all levels of organizational change.
  6. Lean/Six Sigma philosophy & culture = Gemba walks/5S boards/Kaizen events, etc.
    • Continuous improvements are vital to running a successful warehouse.
    • Gemba walks allow employees to assess the process flow and identify areas of waste or opportunity.
    • 5S promotes work area organization and cleanliness. An example would be 5S shadow boards which promote proper tool/supply storage.
    • Kaizen events encourage collaboration between management and associates to define the current state and align the details of the process improvements. The improvements are re-assessed and refined.
  7. Engineered Labor Standards that include an incentive or recognition program and a periodic maintenance plan
    • Labor standards promote employee productivity.
    • It clearly defines the amount of work of a specified quality when following the documented SOP or a preferred methodology that an associate must perform in an acceptable amount of time.
    • Incentive programs increase the effectiveness of engineered labor standards (typically by 10-20%) and encourage associates to perform above and beyond expected levels by either providing additional wages or through company perks.
  8. Slotting program
    • Proper slotting increases the utilization of storage
    • Improves outbound throughput by reducing travel
    • Increases warehouse safety and promotes better palletization
  9. Layout enhancement & MHE review (annual at minimum)
    • An optimized layout improves the outbound throughput
    • Regularly assess the material handling equipment (MHE) to ensure optimal utilization.
    • Routinely assess potential new MHE technology alternatives to improve warehouse operations.
    • Preventative maintenance is key to reducing downtime.
  10. Annual review of business growth plans & future objectives
    • Ensure labor forecasts align with business growth plans and objectives, so the current MHE throughputs do not become a limiting factor or bottleneck.
    • The review of business growth plans also allows the opportunity to assess the warehouse capacities (both storage and processing throughputs) to align with the expected lifespan of the warehouse.
  11. Safety
    • Proper signage and training the associates of safety measures will promote a safe and productive work environment and minimize accidents.
    • Dedicated pedestrian walkways promote safety around MHE lifts.
  12. Accurate inventory maintenance
    • Routine cycle counts and accurate data entry by warehouse team members are required to maintain accurate inventory.
    • Accurate inventory ensures proper order fulfillment and overall warehouse associate and customer experience.

What Does SOP Stand for?

SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure.
In a warehouse setting, a Standard Operating Procedure provides detailed guidance to associates on the floor about how the work should be performed safely and efficiently to utilize the workforce best.

What is a Gemba Walk?

A Gemba walk is the act of witnessing a process firsthand on the front lines to learn, find problems, and discover opportunities for improvement.

What Does 5S Stand for?

5S stands for the 5 steps of Lean Manufacturing Methodology: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.

Insights from

Engagement Leader at Johnson Stephens Consulting

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