Maximising productivity and capacity

In today’s always-on, e-commerce-driven world, customer expectations for a robust product selection and faster delivery times are pressuring warehouses to hit entirely new levels of efficiency.

From average capacity used to on-time shipments, warehouses are continuously challenged to achieve gold standard performance in order to remain competitive, even as they face extreme cost pressures and labour challenges. This means maximising operator productivity, optimising workflows to get more orders out the door on time – or else risk losing repeat business – and dense storage configurations to boost capacity.

Optimise operator performance

Whether loading and unloading trucks or putting away pallets, best-in-class performance requires labour working to its fullest potential. Optimising conditions for peak labour productivity is two-fold. For one, environmental factors, such as inventory crowding, along with the amount of light and room to manoeuvre, can affect efficiency. Then, factors closely tied to operator comfort and energy can heavily impact performance.

Optimise order picking

With labour difficult to find and retain, counting on increased headcount to keep up with growing order volumes is unreliable at best. Instead, warehouses need to do more with available resources and prime their workforce for maximum productivity – especially for the labour-intensive task of order picking.

Picking orders is the foundational process that enables logistics operations to deliver the service levels consumers expect. But picking can be prone to inefficiencies, including significant time spent travelling between pick locations, too many product touches, aisle congestion and time spent lowering goods from storage locations. To combat these inefficiencies, warehouses can deploy select workflow strategies and equipment capabilities.

Optimise storage

Two key trends work together to produce surging demand for warehouse space. The introduction of more players in the e-commerce space and consumer demand for greater product selection leading to SKU proliferation presses those e-commerce players to store and move larger inventories. But even though there are historic levels of warehouse space available, warehouse rent keeps rising and vacancy rates aren’t budging.

Unfortunately, operations can’t afford to overlook space challenges – capacity has become a critical measurement for high-performing warehouses. Warehouses with insufficient storage and overflowing inventory may unintentionally result in inefficient slotting and storage methods, which can lead to disorganised picking practices and longer travel paths.

What are operations to do? With capacity constraints and pressure to do more with less, the logical step for a warehouse is to increase storage density. The good news is there are multiple effective tactics that can increase density, including vertical and double-deep storage configurations, narrower aisles and smaller, more manoeuvrable equipment.

Optimise, then re-optimise

The forces pushing warehouse operations to innovate are not slowing down, in fact, many are accelerating. For today’s warehouses, there’s a fine line between struggling and thriving, and the extent to which they are able to optimise their operation can be the deciding force.

Performing at a high level requires constantly re-evaluating strategies, workflows, and technologies. A partner that has the breadth and depth of solutions to identify the most effective options for top performance throughout an operation can better position a business to get the most out of what they have.

Yale provides a wide range of solutions to meet the demands of the modern warehouse. Read our White Paper to see learn more about maximising productivity and capacity.