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"We chose Latitude because it's a very robust and flexible program that also supported our long-term roadmap which included implementation of carousels and other automated sytems.  Support for future requirements was a key consideration and we're very pleased with our decision to go with PathGuide.  We've found them to be true experts in warehouse practices -- they take the time to really understand our business at a level other vendors don't."

Roy Bragg, VP of Operations
E.B. Horsman & Son
Surrey, BC

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Getting a Handle on Inventory with Good Warehousekeeping

Good Warehousekeeping - Small

For many companies, getting a handle on inventory can mean the difference between a yearly profit and a loss. Larger customers want to know that they can depend on deliveries from smaller suppliers. If Amazon sees a warehouse in seeming disarray, it may lose confidence in that supplier.

Over time, a warehouse accumulates excess inventory-related material, and often, personal possessions. The people who view the same environment day in and day out don’t “see” it in the same manner as a guest. A warehouse manager may know where every piece of inventory resides, even if the facility looks jumbled and unorganized. But to a customer or supplier visiting the site, warehouse disorganization can indicate that accurate picking and on-time shipping are problematic.

Establishing standards for order and cleanliness in a warehouse can actually pay huge dividends. Good warehousekeeping can result in better customer service through better inventory management, improved worker safety, savings in labor costs, etc.

There may be good reasons why a warehouse is difficult to clean, such as dust from gravel parking lots or unsealed floors. Regardless, let’s face it: Cleanliness is a confidence builder, and it’s the Number One Reason for taking a fresh look at warehousekeeping.

4 Reasons You Need Good Warehousekeeping

1. Clutter hurts your reputation

To a company CEO, a dirty disorganized warehouse may imply that supervisors have lost pride in their work, or that employees are not being held accountable for accurate processes. To a warehouse employee, disorganization may signal that the company doesn’t take care as much about the warehouse as it does about its corporate offices.

An unorganized or messy warehouse indicates to visitors, suppliers, and staff that efficiency is lacking. It might even communicate that potential revenue is being lost, warehouse staff members are overwhelmed, or even that company morale is suffering.

2. Clutter diminishes efficiency

Messy warehouse aisles (pallets, shrink wrap, etc.) are not only safety hazards, they affect the throughput rate per warehouse worker, affecting the profitability of the site. Simply reducing the clutter in the aisles will improve the efficiency of picking and increase productivity and throughput, which contribute to overall profitability.

A pile of boxes in the middle of an aisle is an indicator that the warehouse inventory process is flawed. If you need to move pallets in an aisle destined for put away so you can access a pick location, that’s an obvious bottleneck to productivity. Can an order really be delivered on time? And won’t it cost a lot more to ensure that stock is available when there is no easy way to know what needs to be ordered?

If a warehouse is a jumble of mismatched inventory mixed with returns in no logical order, it’s hard to get a handle on how to improve picking processes. It will also be impossible to establish the criteria for task simplification, which contributes to labor cost savings.

3. A clean warehouse just runs better

An orderly warehouse generally has more accurate inventory levels, helping the company:

  • Lower the cost of inventory
  • Improve the fill rate
  • Monitor shelf life
  • Account for obsolescence
  • Eliminate fear stock
  • Better manage write-offs

In addition, a clean warehouse helps morale. Good warehousekeeping indicates that company management has placed a priority on employee safety, excellence, and adherence to standards. Good housekeeping has been shown to have an effect on employee job satisfaction (i.e., less turnover, equating to more profit) and the efficiency of an employee’s work (i.e., faster throughput).

4. How do I start getting my warehouse in order?

There are four steps to getting started on the path to a cleaner, more efficient warehouse:

  1. Select your warehouse project manager or champion. The warehouse champion is a person who has become a logistics expert by choice, and who has the ability to stand back and dispassionately observe warehouse practices in order to improve them. The warehouse champion is a good choice for conducting an initial visual assessment of the facility’s housekeeping practices. If an organization lacks a warehouse champion, it’s possible that a consultant can temporarily fill that role.
  2. Conduct an overall warehouse management assessment is an unbiased visual survey of the facility.
  3. Pinpoint problems:
    • Are the aisles clear of debris?
    • Are returns and write-offs in a designated area, or are they scattered throughout the facility?
    • Are pallets neatly stacked?
  4. Establish plan to solve organizational issues in short order 

Establishing a record of the existing warehousekeeping today – good or bad – is the first essential step toward creating a more cohesive and profitable warehouse management program. So take a look around. Really see what the state of the warehouse is – and then use that visual survey to start down the road to more profitability through good warehousekeeping.

Contact PathGuide for a more in depth discussion and how we can help with your warehouse challenges