Warehouse Woes: 5 Common Warehouse Problems & Solutions
Warehouse work requires a lot of collaboration and strategic planning to ensure that everyone is able to complete their job. However, even the most streamlined operation will find itself facing one of these common problems.
That said, it’s imperative to know how to combat these problems and enact solutions quickly. Without quick action, these problems can have a significant negative impact on operations.
However, there are preventative measures that you can take, including being informed. Here’s everything you need to know about the most common problems for warehouse workers and how to solve them.
Warehouse Problems and How to Solve Them
Avoid the damaging effects of complex supply chain network problems with simple solutions. From missing an entire shipment to losing a major client, even simple warehouse problems can cause big trouble. Here’s a breakdown of the most common warehouse problems and how to solve them.
To say that communication is important in the warehouse industry would be an understatement. It’s a team-based industry that requires everyone to be connected throughout the entire warehouse which can span several acres and house multiple buildings. Information needs to be shared accurately and quickly.
The issue of poor communication can be caused by anything from poor reception to bad software. Additionally, staff members may not be familiar with how to properly utilize the communication system that is already in place.
Digital two-way radios are perhaps the safest and most reliable method of communication for areas as large as warehouses. With long-distance range, easy accessibility, and the ability to be transported easily, two-way radios will streamline communications in the facility. Many industrial models are also equipped with emergency features that will keep workers safe.
Any hand-held communication device should be paired with a cloud-based system that makes it easy to access pertinent information quickly. Inventory, shipment status, and staff on-hand can all be tracked via cloud-based software that securely saves every detail that a warehouse needs to stay up and running. The software can be customized so access to and editing privileges are only offered to administration or those who need it — which can really help to avoid headaches.
It’s no secret that warehouses are large. In fact, warehouse workers can easily walk up to 10+ miles a day simply traversing the labyrinth of inventory to find what they need. That said, with everyone off to do their own thing, it can be difficult to keep track of everyone and ensure that an area has proper coverage.
As it’s a busy place, it’s common for some areas of the warehouse to be over-crowded and others to be deserted. However, this can decrease efficiency and increase the time it takes to get things done.
Fixing any area coverage problem starts by addressing the root of the issue. For example, the problem may be caused by understaffing or, even, overstaffing — which can be a much harder fix. In most cases, an area coverage issue is typically caused by a lack of planning that can be easily remedied by overhauling your current system.
One of the best ways to ensure that every area is covered equally or with respect to its staffing needs is to utilize a zoned system. Within a zoned system, pickers are assigned a specific area of the warehouse to cover with coverage spanning the entire warehouse. Pickers in a zone will only operate within that zone to help create an efficient picking system.
Some warehouses using this approach ensure that their fastest moving products are placed nearby one another to speed up their distribution. More high-tech solutions include supplying pickers with GPS devices that are specifically programmed to provide the most efficient route to their next picking location.
It’s simple, you can’t be disorganized and successful in the warehouse industry. Disorganization can cost a warehouse time, effort, and money. It can also affect every aspect of the warehouse including inventory, picking assignments, and orders. Without direction, a warehouse’s operations can fall apart and cause major damage.
The best solution for disorganization in a warehouse is to take preventative action by being proactive during the training process.
The gold standard of organization in the workplace? The 5S methodology.
First implemented over 60 years ago, the 5S methodology emphasizes five different pillars to help increase productivity and organization throughout the workplace. The pillars of the 5S methodology are Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustaining. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Sort – Sort and organize all items in a place. Once that’s done, eliminate all unnecessary items.
- Set in Order – Everything must be in its proper place to ensure the highest functionality.
- Shine – Ensure that the workplace is clean and all tools are properly maintained.
- Standardize – Create a protocol that makes it easy to complete the aforementioned tasks.
- Sustain – Keep it up! Essentially this pillar is one that emphasizes performing these tasks without being asked.
Be proactive when it comes to avoiding workplace disorganization by implementing 5S into your new-hire training strategy. This instills your workplace values early on and sows the seeds of high-quality productivity early on.
Warehouse problems are fun, and more importantly, they can hinder the efficiency of the warehouse’s operations. Fortunately, every warehouse problem has a fix, whether it’s taking proactive steps to avoid the problem or implementing strategic changes.
The number one thing to focus on? Communication. Working with a team requires top-notch communication. Prioritize giving your team the best tools in the business to make it happen.