Warehouses represent far more than simple storage. What happens inside those four walls can make or break a supply chain. While speed and efficiency are the names of the game in logistics, conversations with warehousing teams must go beyond space, location, security, and services. When searching for the right warehousing partner, ask these five efficiency questions for a deeper understanding of how their operation will impact yours.
How do you handle staffing?
Recruiting and retaining a qualified hourly workforce presents a top challenge for warehouse and distribution centers. Look for operations that make regular staff training a top priority. Highly trained employees not only perform their work better but also are more engaged in the business and stay with the company longer. Estimates show replacing an employee could cost as much as 30% of the annual salary. Tenured employees also are safer, can do their jobs quicker, and make fewer errors. These benefits help keep warehousing costs low.
How do you maximize your layout?
Warehouse layout dictates storage capacity and operational speed. Discuss how the warehouse uses cross-docking for product flow. Look for racking that maximizes both horizontal floor space as well as vertical height. Aisles should be clearly labeled with signage allowing employees to locate items quickly. Product shipping frequently should be located strategically to minimize fulfillment travel. All space allocations should be purposeful with designated areas that optimize traffic flow and reduce product back-ups. This includes specific areas for loading/unloading, shipping and receiving, storage, and packing.
Does sequencing happen in your warehouse?
Efficient warehouses work toward a one-touch approach. This means that they touch a product once for each sequence. For example, when it comes off the truck, it should immediately head to its storage location without needing to be staged, and other products moved beforehand. For customer fulfillment, efficient warehouses optimize the picking sequence, which minimizes the floor travel for obtaining all SKUs in the order. This dramatically improves speed and accuracy. Sequencing allows the same number of staff to process more orders within a shift.
What gets measured?
The adage of “what gets measured gets managed” holds true in a warehouse. Discuss what metrics the warehouse tracks like errors, speed, damages, and inventory cycle counts. Learn how they perform on key metrics currently and how they are working to maintain or improve those numbers. Ask how staff are accountable for driving important metrics that impact the warehouse and customer’s profits. Slow loading or unloading could trigger carrier detention charges, or packing errors could increase shipping costs and decrease consumer retention numbers. Warehouse inefficiencies have a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, so make sure the team monitors and manages important indicators.
How are you leveraging technology?
The supply chain is experiencing unprecedented pressures. Amazon’s Prime shipping changed consumer delivery expectations. Blockchain is pulling the curtain back on real-time information transparency. In response, warehouses are implementing new technologies. Automated robots and picking systems are increasing the number of orders processed daily. Cold storage alarms proactively alert employees to any temperature changes well in advance of losses and support blockchain’s shared ledger. With Worker’s Compensation claims and pilferage continuing to be high costs for warehouses, some are implementing new Artificial Intelligence camera systems that track employee movements to spot issues before they occur. Discuss what technologies the warehouse currently uses and what is on the roadmap for the future.
If you are looking for a new warehouse partner, direct these questions to JIT Services. We deploy state-of-the-art technology for product storage and shipping. Our commitment to environmental sustainability sets us apart. Plus, JIT’s highly trained and qualified staff put customer satisfaction first. Discover how our efficiencies can help drive yours by calling JIT Services today.