Top Issues Killing Warehouse Productivity (+ Tips for Reducing Downtime)

August 05, 2021

Is your warehouse running as efficiently as possible? 

It may seem that your warehouse operations are running as smoothly as ever, but that doesn't mean they're optimized to be as efficient as possible. By understanding common issues that plague operations, you can remove warehouse inefficiencies so as to optimize your productivity like never before and reduce warehouse downtime. 

How to Measure Warehouse Productivity 

To increase warehouse efficiency, you have to know first how to measure productivity to find where inefficiencies may lie. There are several ways to measure your warehouse productivity. 

Conduct Operational Audits

By conducting regular audits, you can see where your facilities stand in terms of warehouse efficiency, inventory, and employee safety. Catch any warehouse inefficiencies with these operational audit tips:

  • Compare your current warehouse capacity with the optimum capacity you want to build towards.
  • Look for any trouble areas in your warehouse’s layout that are disrupting inventory and operational flow.  
  • Make sure your systems are performing optimally by watching for any glitches that may be slowing down operations. 

Defining Goals

Start setting warehouse goals based on your findings from the operational audits. Defining these goals should be warehouse-wide; schedule meetings with the right department heads so that you and your team can find ways to update your warehouse systems. 

Goals can only be achieved by making the necessary changes, either it’s organizational or inventory tracking shifts. Setting up KPIs for your staff to follow can start to initiate the needed change. 

Setting KPIs for Employees 

Establishing KPIs (key performance indicators) for employees can help both you and your workers review progress to drive better results for overall warehouse goals. If your warehouse staff already have set KPIs, adjust them to fit new goals or areas where operational audits saw warehouse inefficiencies. 

  • Set KPIs that are custom fit for each employee or job title for better optimization. 
  • For pickers, have KPIs for order pick cycle times, quality metrics, number of order lines picked per hour, etc. 
  • Packers should have KPIs that include volume received per hour, cost of receiving for each line, cycle time for recipes, and accuracy percentage. 
  • Shippers can have performance metrics for order process per hour, quality percentage per order, and cost of shipping for each order, etc. 

Three Causes of Warehouse Inefficiencies and Downtime and Tips for Improving Productivity 

Inefficient Warehouse Layouts

Warehouse floor plans should be designed with warehouse efficiency in mind. Space is commonly limited in a warehouse and narrow aisles can be easily blocked, making it impossible for employees and motive power equipment to carry on their tasks. Scattered boxes and inventory and idle equipment can make driving a forklift difficult and create delays for workers searching for a needed asset. More importantly, it can be dangerous in the case of an emergency evacuation. Serious situations can become fatal if critical exit pathways are blocked.

With the right warehouse service, you can turn a cluttered warehouse into a space optimized for smooth operations. By removing excess motive power equipment and warehouse assets that are no longer needed and sitting idle, you can maximize warehouse storage, minimize operational delays, and properly manage your yearly warehouse budget. Installing a pallet rack can greatly impact the efficiency and speed of your daily warehouse operation, as well as increase available warehouse space. Every racking system style is capable of handling a certain weight quota (some by as much as 4000 lbs).

Poor Storage and Space Utilization 

A warehouse can be extremely hectic throughout the day. Disorganization can create a host of warehouse inefficiencies and problems. Messy and inconsistent organization can lead to mistakes with processing shipping inventory, receiving shipments, and data entry. It can make it harder for employees to find the materials they need if warehouse equipment and products aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Poor storage not only inhibits warehouse productivity, but also provides hazards to employee safety. 

Industrial shelving and pallet racks are the best warehouse storage and handling solutions for reducing disorganization and are versatile enough for most storage needs. Racking systems can be customized to hold a variety of different weights and can minimize tripping hazards by preventing shipment boxes from cluttering your warehouse floor space. This enables workers and forklifts to move around with ease and not having to worry about damaging any inventory or their safety. Proper organization also reduces motion waste, unnecessary movement during operations which contribute to warehouse downtime. When products are easy for employees to find and collect, less time is wasted in retrieving inventory. 

Poor Forklift Maintenance Practices

Forklifts are the workhorses of modern warehouse and distribution center operations, but they require frequent preventative maintenance to stay working in top condition. Ignoring proper forklift maintenance practices can create safety hazards for employees and result in more warehouse downtime due to equipment failures. Since forklifts often carry extremely heavy loads across facilities, they can sustain plenty of heavy wear and tear on the forklift’s mast—the failure of which could cause a load to fall.

Tires can also wear out and electrical systems can short circuit, resulting in catastrophic failures and expensive repairs. Damaged forklifts can also harm employees; forklifts with blown-out tires are difficult to control and a failing forklift mast can cause nearby employees to be struck by falling objects. Regular preventative maintenance helps to prevent catastrophic failures and the employee injuries they can cause, as well as increase forklift productivity. 

Optimize your Warehouse Productivity with SSE!

If you want to reduce warehouse downtime and improve employee safety, then start applying these tips for your operations. With preventative forklift maintenance practices, you can utilize your forklift batteries to their greatest potential in order to optimize productivity and get the highest return on your investment. Additionally, industrial shelving can be customized to fit your unique  storage needs and order picking methods your warehouse uses. 

So, are you ready to improve your warehouse productivity? Contact a Southern States Enterprises representative today to ask about our selection of pallet racks, preventative maintenance strategies, and to learn more about our used and rental forklift batteries.

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