Warehousing is a critical component in all supply chains, and an increasingly complex one with the rise of automation, AI and the ‘internet of things’.

Warehouse managers in New Zealand now more than ever must cater to increasingly diverse product lines and volumes, have the availability for rapid additions, and maintain inventory accuracy and efficiency… and the cost of making a mistake is higher than ever.

In his excellent article in the Logistics Bureau, Rob O’Brien identifies 8 common warehousing mistakes, and how to avoid them.

1. Holding Excess Inventory

Despite years of knowledge dissemination in the warehousing field, encouraging lean practice and inventory reduction, storing too much inventory is still one of the most common warehousing mistakes made by supply chain organisations worldwide.

2. Failing to Optimize Picking Paths

Another of the most common warehousing mistakes–overlooking the need to plan efficient picking paths through your warehouse –will handicap your picking rate. This, in turn, can impact supply chain cycle times, and generate excessive labour costs because of sub-optimal productivity.

3. Clinging on to Paper Processes

Failing to utilize technology and holding doggedly onto inefficient, paper-based workflows is a warehousing mistake common to many smaller organizations. This doesn’t mean you have to invest in an expensive and over-complicated warehouse management system though.

4. Lack of Attention to Housekeeping

Messy loading docks, aisles littered with shrink-wrap, overfilled pallets. These are all symptoms of a warehouse that doesn’t get enough love. Apart from the safety implications, a warehouse without good housekeeping is a warehouse without efficiency. The mess obstructs the flow of people and goods through the facility, reducing productivity.

5. Inadequate Health and Safety Management

Even a tidy warehouse isn’t necessarily a safe warehouse. Good health and safety management in a warehouse is about looking for the hidden hazards as well as the obvious ones. Yet, all too often, health and safety get overlooked in busy warehousing operations. The problem is, as long as employees aren’t having accidents, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety.

6. Neglecting Goods-in Processes

When the pressure is on to get customer orders moving through the warehouse and dispatched on time, the inbound side of the operation can sometimes suffer from a lack of attention. Actually, though, the role of goods-in receiving is critical to effective warehousing and hence, should not be left neglected.

7. Ignoring Staff Development

Tight budgets sometimes mean training and development activities don’t receive the priority that they deserve. Your employees though are your most important asset. If you neglect to identify development needs and provide opportunities for individual growth, higher staff turnover is the most likely outcome.

8. Failing to Measure the Right Things

Most companies today, measure warehouse performance to some degree, but it hasn’t always been so, and despite increased awareness of the need for meaningful key performance indicators, plenty of organisations fail to measure their warehouse operations correctly.

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