How to Manage a Warehouse

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Successfully managing a warehouse requires processes and procedures both easy to follow and execute. It also requires experienced, organized employees who understand the importance of their jobs. Receiving, storage, picking, packing, shipping and replenishment are the main areas involved in operating a warehouse and each area has its own unique challenges when it comes to management.

Quality planning provides a roadmap to follow
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Develop an operations plan that will allow the warehouse and its employees to meet the goals and expectations of the company and its customers, and will allow the warehouse to achieve the company's vision.

Quality people make success possible.
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Hire great workers to perform all the warehouse tasks, always willing to give a little extra as the job demands.

Clear communication leads to meeting expectations.
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Communicate expectations clearly to all employees. Both management and customers have expectations--overall and per job.

Written standards allow for consistent training.
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Develop standard procedures for every warehouse task. This includes data entry, receiving, stocking shelves, lift-truck operation, picking products for orders, delivering products, shipping, packaging and more.

Training leads to consistent performance.
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Train employees on all procedures regularly. Provide refresher training every six months or whenever a procedure is changed.

Good decisions come from good data.
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Create a cycle count program. This is the process of scheduling regular inventory counts, at least four times per year. Collect data from the analysis done at each count for future decision making.

Without knowing where you are, you will not know where you are going.
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Track and measure all pertinent operational information. This includes cycle count accuracy, labor dollars per transaction, space utilization efficiency, transportation costs and annual inventory turns-- the frequency that inventory is sold during that time period.

Even a small change can mean positive results.
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Encourage continuous improvement and process evaluation of all employees. No matter how well a process works, certain areas can always stand improvement.

Tips

  • Success in management comes from good people and good processes. Focus on these two things and the battle is half over.

    Look to the employees for new ideas and better ways to operate efficiently. It is typically the employees who have the best ideas.

    Make decisions based on measurements and facts, not emotions and guesswork.

    Make sure there is a clear understanding of what is expected of the warehouse operations and its employees.

    Treat all employees with respect and understanding.

Warnings

  • Make sure to follow all agency guidelines for safety rules when performing operations.

References

About the Author

Andrew Campanella has been writing policies and procedures, requests for proposals and purchasing contracts since 1995. He has been published on eHow and Answerbag, where he specializes in business management and process improvement topics. Campanella attended Utah State University.

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