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Improving Warehouse Productivity And Operational Performance

Aug 17, 2007
The warehouse is the heart of the wholesale distribution system. It is the place where the goods first arrive, are stored, packed, and then transported to various outlets for sale. Keeping track of the inventory in constant motion can make or break the entire business. Errors in warehouse operation can undermine operations resulting in customer dissatisfaction and financial disaster, a sure death knell for the business.

Improving Warehouse Productivity
Efficient warehousing operations are vital to a firm's competitiveness in today's global environment. Industrial operations management techniques can be gainfully employed to optimize your operations and maintain high productivity levels.

Process Optimization
As businesses evolve, a number of inefficiencies get embedded in the processes and systems of the firm. Make a deliberate effort to constantly review the processes involved in your operations and carry out optimization. Focus on efficiency and eliminate delays and bottlenecks that hamper workflow and increase processing time. This helps in reducing operating costs, improves capacity utilization and improves quality and service levels.

It is very important to train employees for achieving and sustaining productivity levels. It yields consistent results and improves the product quality. Trained employees follow proper methods and procedures while doing their tasks. This leads to higher productivity levels. More importantly, these levels are then sustained over time. In addition, training provides management with an effective tool to evaluate associates who have been brought up to a common level.

Labor Standards Measuring
Multiple variable work functions evolve with these standards. Working with operators who perform these tasks on a daily basis, engineers carry out time studies and workload information to calculate completion rates of various tasks. Productivity standards for various work functions are then compiled. This is much better than having standards based on theoretical calculations. It is a good performance measurement tool and forms a valid basis for feedback and implementation of incentive programs.

Productivity Reporting
This is an essential part of any operation and provides managers with essential quantifiable data about the efficiencies of the system. It forms the basis of all activities to sustain productivity over time. A productivity tracking system is generally put in place. It generates reports and data that are used to evaluate performance, implements incentive programs, and monitors productivity. Software has the capability to provide operational performance data across various departments and functions down to individual employees. It is particularly useful as the charts and graphs outputted by the system give a graphic view of the health of the operation.

The way of ensuring that your operation is functioning at optimum levels is to constantly carry out process optimization, have engineered labor standards, productivity measurement, and training of employees. This will result in a substantial cost reduction and operations that are more streamlined. Focus on efficiency. Avoid delays and bottlenecks that hamper the workflow and increase processing time.

Additional Help
There are companies online that can help streamline your company with services and software geared toward optimization of performance standards.
About the Author
David Gass is President of Business Credit Services, Inc. His company publishes a free weekly e-newsletter on Small Business Consulting at their web site http://www.smallbusinessconsulting.com.
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