Two More Ways to Battle Rising Warehouse Costs (Part 2 of 3)
Previously we have talked about the big cost challenges that many warehouses are facing, especially with real estate prices, labor costs and fuel costs all rising rapidly.
With all these rising costs, it is just not affordable for many companies to open a new warehouse or hire more workers right now, but order fulfilment can’t be allowed to suffer.
Despite signs of the economy slowing down and some indicators that inflation may be taking a toll on consumer and business spending, online ordering and demand for products remain high, and customers expect on-time deliveries despite current supply chain difficulties.
In our first article in this series, we talked about fighting back against all of this by optimizing your warehouse from end to end, so you can expand capacity and throughput and keep orders moving without having to expand your footprint or your workforce. But this is not the only effective strategy you can deploy.
In this second part of our three-part series, we will explore two other major ways to boost warehouse throughput and performance in this challenging environment. These are improvements that we have helped many of our warehouse clients implement quickly and with manageable time and costs that generate an almost immediate return.
1. Automate and Streamline Your Labor-Intensive Tasks
Automating more workflows and tasks is the single most effective change you can make to any process or area in your warehouse. But it does not necessarily mean replacing workers.
Automation can certainly reduce your dependence and reliance on labor by allowing your warehouse to get more done without relying as much on your human workforce, but it also frees up your workers to focus on more strategic and value-added tasks. And it also helps them get their work done faster, more efficiently, and with less stress and hardship.
For example, in warehouse picking operations, if you mobilize your warehouse management system and equip your workers with Zebra wrist-worn mobile computers, finger-worn ring-style barcode scanners, and a headset, you can enable them to fulfil more orders in far less time, with greater accuracy and less physical effort.
Using this kind of multi-modal system, they can access orders and pick lists digitally on their wearable mobile computer, and the software on their device can give them audio and visual cues to direct them to the correct inventory locations, along the most efficient route. Then they can validate correct picks with a simple barcode scan.
Since they are able to do this with wearable devices, their hands are free to handle inventory without juggling mobile hardware, and the software saves them miles of walking by always pointing them to the right location along the best route for maximum efficiency. Your warehouse also benefits by being able to pick orders faster and with greater accuracy. Automated workflows like these save seconds and minutes on every order, which quickly add up to hours every day that can be used to pick more orders and get more done on every shift.
This is just one example of the many ways you can use technologies to automate and streamline your warehouse processes and tasks, whether it is scanning inbound materials or goods and using software to automate put-away, or it is doing something as sophisticated as using RFID, vision-based sensors, and software to automate truck loading and ensure you’re loading everything as efficiently as possible with less shipped air.
2. Improve Real-Time Collaboration for Increased Efficiency
Another great to way improve warehouse efficiency is by connecting your workers and managers in real-time, across all the communication channels they use. You can do this on a single device they can carry with them. Instead of having to go back and forth to an office PBX phone and instead of having to juggle different devices to scan barcodes, manage orders, and access push-to-talk and texting, they can do it all on one device. And this saves time and effort at every stage of warehousing, adding up to significant labor and cost savings.
One way we’ve helped our clients achieve this is by using Zebra’s Workforce Connect. It is a mobile solution that runs on Zebra mobile computing devices and provides push-to-talk, secure texting, PBX phone line access, and all the voice, video and other communication tools you need on one piece of hardware.
Workforce Connect runs on a full range of Zebra mobile computing solutions, and it can potentially connect thousands of workers, even across multiple facilities in different locations. It gives managers and workers an easy way to stay in touch, collaborate on mission-critical tasks, and do it all with improved efficiency. As they can communicate and collaborate more seamlessly and in real-time, they are able to coordinate efforts and get a lot more accomplished with less overall effort and a lot less confusion or waiting around for responses.
To learn more about these and other ways to boost warehouse efficiency and keep your physical footprint and workforce to a minimum while costs are at historic highs, connect with our team at Ahearn & Soper.
We will be happy to share more insights and help you review your current challenges, and then determine the next step you should take to start optimizing your operations and battling back against rising costs. Contact us now through our website or call us at 800-263-4258.