Warehouse operations are critical to supply chain logistics. Without them, retailers would have a hard time fulfilling customer demand for goods. The two important goals of warehouse operations are safety and efficiency. Safety is always the first consideration since human lives are at stake. Also, an unsafe warehouse can quickly become an inefficient one when long-term considerations are factored in such as OSHA fines and suspended operations for especially dangerous hazards. Here are some of the industry’s top practices that will help you to get the best of both safety and efficiency from your warehouse operations.
#1 Post Safety Expectations
When everyone is on the same page, work operations go much smoother. That is why your most important safety practices should be posted in central areas for everyone to see. While a poster can’t cover all of the details of your safety procedures such as operating within fork truck lifting capacity limits, you should let your workforce, managers and auditors know where they can go to get the specifics. Your procedures can be found in a digital format on a company intranet or in a notebook that is located inyour training room.
#2 Benchmark Efficiency Goals
Increased competition in the marketplace means that you can never be satisfied with status quo warehouse operations. A good way to improve is to do a little research on the best operations in the business. Use the performance practices of market leaders as benchmarks for your own operations. Gradual improvements should bring you closer to matching their exceptional operations, which often equates to greater value to your customers.
#3 Conduct Safety and Efficiency Audits
Setting goals is wonderful, but they mean very little if you don’t measure your team’s progress. Part of analyzing the impacts of safety and efficiency initiatives is conducting inspections. These inspections should include a predetermined checklist of items that you want to evaluate through a series of internal audits. For example, an auditor may check your team’s material handling equipment while in use to make sure that your workers aren’t exceeding fork truck lifting capacity.
#4 Provide Continuous Training Programs
No matter how routine warehouse operations become, there are usually variations in equipment, facility layouts or operational scope that keep things interesting for warehouse workers. For these scenarios, ongoing training programs lead to continuous improvement for operational safety and efficiency.
#5 Implement a Positive Feedback System
No one likes a snitch. However, highlighting a co-worker’s good safety and efficiency work habits can be a real morale boost. This form of feedback also presents a way for workers to informally police their own warehouse practices on a continuous basis. Ideally, this results in an efficient, safe and more collaborative warehouse.