In today’s fast-paced business environment, warehouse efficiency is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. One of the biggest challenges faced by warehouse managers is managing labor costs, which can account for a significant portion of overall warehouse expenses. Within labor costs, picking labor is the most significant contributor, making it a prime target for optimization.
If your warehouse picking workforce is spending a significant amount of time walking up and down the aisles, it’s time to look for opportunities to optimize travel costs.
Here are some ways to optimize travel costs involved in picking operations:
Improving your storage practices (reduce the need to walk)
Zoning: Organize your inventory into fast/medium/slow moving zones. By placing the fast-moving zones closer and with easier accessibility, pickers can reduce the effort required for picking, resulting in faster and more efficient operations.
Slotting: Periodic slotting helps reorganize inventory placements in a way that aligns with demand patterns and forecasts, ultimately reducing pick times. This practice can help warehouse managers maximize space utilization and improve order fulfillment.
Route Optimization: A good warehouse management system can significantly improve pick path efficiency. Such systems can help optimize the sequence of picking tasks, taking into account variables like proximity, demand, and inventory movement. By reducing travel times and streamlining workflows, warehouse managers can save time, improve order accuracy, and increase productivity.
Split picking tasks from material handling tasks
An effective way to optimize warehouse operations is to split picking tasks from material handling tasks. While picking requires higher-order skills, material movement from one location to another can often be performed by personnel who are available at a lower cost.
By allowing pickers to stay in their respective zones and directing tasks to them digitally, the need for unnecessary travel and physical exertion is minimized. Infrastructure required to perform the picking tasks, such as empty bins, pallets, and boxes, can be made available to the picker in their zone without having to move outside the zone.
After the picking task is complete, material handlers can perform the movement of goods from the pick zone to the operating area. This strategy reduces travel time and improves overall productivity while also reducing the risk of errors.
Automation is a key solution to reducing labor costs and improving warehouse efficiency. One option is material handling automation, which includes a range of technologies such as conveyors, automated robots, and other advanced solutions. However, selecting the right solution for your warehouse requires careful evaluation of several factors, including operational complexity, financial considerations, and future plans.
Warehouse managers must consider the nature of their operations and the specific requirements of their inventory when choosing an automation solution. Additionally, the financial investment and long-term impact on operations must be carefully considered. By conducting a thorough evaluation, managers can select an automation solution that fits their unique needs and ultimately improves warehouse performance.
Benefits of Optimizing Warehousing Travel
By optimizing travel by 25%, you have the potential to achieve substantial cost savings in your warehousing operations. This can be calculated as 25% of the cost of picking labor, which accounts for 50% of total warehousing labor costs, and 40% of overall warehousing costs. This equates to a potential 5% reduction in your overall warehousing costs, which is significant. Additionally, reducing travel time for pickers can have a range of benefits, including reducing fatigue, minimizing errors, and boosting employee morale.
To realize these benefits, the first step is to engage with a supply chain solution provider. They can analyze your current situation and provide recommendations for optimizing your operations. By deploying the necessary technology, you can achieve the cost savings and efficiency gains that come from reducing travel time for your warehouse pickers.
In conclusion, optimizing travel costs in warehouse operations is essential for achieving cost savings and improving efficiency. By implementing strategies such as zoning, slotting, route optimization, and material handling automation, warehouse managers can reduce labor costs associated with picking and improve overall productivity.
Additionally, reducing travel time for pickers can have a range of benefits, including reducing fatigue, minimizing errors, and boosting employee morale. Engaging with a supply chain solution provider can help warehouse managers analyze their operations and recommend solutions tailored to their unique needs. Overall, optimizing travel costs in warehouse operations is a critical step towards maintaining a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment.