Published On: June 25th, 2024Categories: Industry 4.0, Manufacturing Industry, Productivity, Safety

Warehouses are big business. Across the globe, companies spend over $350 billion a year on their warehouse operations. Keeping warehouses efficient and streamlined helps companies keep their costs down and margins high. Warehouses today, though, face more challenges than ever in keeping performance and profits high.

First, warehouses, like many other industries, face a shortage of talent. Competing for the available talent often means higher talent acquisition, training, and compensation costs. Second, the shifting demands from customers have forced warehouses to innovate and speed up their process. Ever since Amazon revolutionized shipping times, warehouses everywhere have had to implement new technologies and systems to keep up with demand. And lastly, as e-commerce continues to expand, many companies have increased the diversity of their inventory. This means more SKUs and greater complexity for workers in the warehouses.

All these factors are contributing to a more complex and quickly changing warehouse industry. Faced with external challenges, warehouses must optimize their systems and workforces to create high performing teams that can manage the current hurdles and the unseen obstacles coming down the road.

Build a Great Place to Work

The foundation for a high-performing warehouse is a team filled with top talent. When you invest in your company’s culture, you reduce turnover rates, attract great workers, and increase profitability. Gallup found that companies with highly engaged employees can see 21% higher profitability.

Every warehouse’s culture is unique, but most strong cultures are based on the principles of community, constant learning, respect, and the pursuit of excellence. Not sure how to get started building a meaningful culture? Here are a few tactics to try.

To develop a culture of learning, invest in your workers’ career development through educational stipends or on-the-job training opportunities. Implementing a mentor program that matches new hires with long-term employees builds community and encourages information-sharing. Regular, institutionalized performance reviews and promotions show respect for workers’ time and commitment.

Overall, a positive culture is the foundation for an engaged workforce composed of workers willing and eager to dedicate their time and energy to your organization.

Invest in Safety Protocols and Processes

Safety is key to creating a smooth warehouse operation and building a strong culture. Workers have a right to do their jobs under safe conditions and feel that can report issues without backlash or retaliation.

Start by performing an audit of your safety trainings and processes. How are workers originally trained in safety practices and how often is that training refreshed? When an issue happens, how do workers report it? Is the reporting process anonymous, accessible, and easy to use? How are reports followed up on?

With answers in hand, refresh and refine your safety processes and communicate those changes consistently and clearly to your teams. The goal is to create a warehouse with less risk, so that workers feel empowered, and operations can continue with minimal disruption.

Take Advantage of Digital Warehouse Design

Ensuring your workers are inspired and safe is half of the equation, but without an efficient warehouse structure your teams will always be operating below their full capabilities. Using new technology, you can test out designs of your physical space to assess how any potential changes could impact efficiency and profitability.

A digital twin simulation is an innovation option for warehouses to test ideas digitally before implementing changes in the physical world. A digital twin is a virtual representation of your warehouse that can be manipulated for testing purposes. Your team can tweak floorplans, workflows, and other factors to optimize efficiency with limited cost, time, and energy. Per McKinsey, digital twin simulations can improve warehouse efficiency by 20-25%.

Don’t Sleep on New Technologies

Warehouses can integrate new technologies into their workstreams to create incremental improvements to efficiency. Below are a few technologies available now, but warehouse management teams must keep a close eye on emerging tech and trends.

Voice picking uses speech recognition to direct warehouse workers where to go and how to find their desired items. This technology frees up worker’s hands to do more, while reducing scanning time and paperwork.

Vision picking goes even further by enhancing a worker’s vision with augmented reality, or AR. Adding an overlay to their field of vision, vision picking provides helpful information to workers on the go. It is still in its infancy but can reduce selection time and human error.

Robotics and automated guide vehicles have been improving warehouse efficiency for quite some time now. These tools continue to advance through AI and other technologies and can substantially improve operations.

Build a Team to Lead You into the Future

The right team is necessary to help you build a warehouse that can succeed now and into the future. Filled with workers who embrace change and new technologies, your warehouse can continually optimize and remain competitive and profitable.

When your team has not bought in on the goal of continued optimization, they utilize technologies in silos, and often, not to their fullest potential. Isolated technologies will not see the same gains as an integrated system used by all. A flexible, nimble team is essential to realizing the full benefits of workspace improvements and innovative tech.

Start Optimizing Today

Building a high-performing warehouse is a never-ending project of continued optimization. By using the levers of culture, talent, physical space, and technologies, managers can keep their warehouses operating smoothly and efficiently.

If you’re ready to start staffing up your warehouse with workers who embrace change and continued learning, LSI Staffing is here for you. At LSI, our team has deep expertise in warehouse staffing and can help you find and retain the talent you need. Contact us to get started today.