That “unproductive” feeling in your warehouse likely isn’t due to your employees’ extra coffee breaks. A recent survey of distribution centers in the United Kingdom revealed that DCs waste an average of 3,000 hours per year on inefficient workflow and processes. Responses from 250 supply chain, warehouse and distribution managers were compiled to show that individual workers lose approximately 15 minutes each day due to less-than-optimal warehouse management processes. What can be done about it? Most respondents believe technology is the best solution.
Inventory management was reported as the most challenging source of lost time and inefficiencies, as well as an area where it would be easiest to gain cost savings through technology. That has been proved quite true in the United States, as many warehouses and distribution centers have implemented inventory management software to provide the visibility needed to optimize inventory control. Rather than relying on pen and paper or spreadsheets, these systems enable comprehensive inventory tracking, including quantity, location, advanced reporting, mobile management and usage of RFID and barcoding. Querying takes seconds to provide needed information, as opposed to shuffling stacks of paper in a daily inventory scavenger hunt.
According to the survey, packing, unloading and picking were also named as tasks that could be most easily optimized by technology. Today’s warehouses are expected to cut costs while maintaining a high standard of production and efficiency, but it’s tough to accomplish that without support from warehouse management system software. These systems are developed to provide a 360-degree view of even the largest warehouse, and the built-in workflow goes a long way toward regaining those lost hours. Increased picking accuracy, proper inventory rotation, RFID support and better control of putaway and picking processes certainly make the work day easier (and more productive) for warehouse managers and employees alike.
3000 lost hours? Not if you have the right technology supporting your warehouse operations. As warehouses and distribution centers upgrade their systems and processes over the next several years, these large amounts of lost productivity time are expected to disappear along with the pen-and-clipboard style of warehouse management that helped cause them.