Managing a warehouse in the digital age comes with a lot of benefits, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. While technology like warehouse management system (WMS) software has made it easier than ever to track pallets and integrate warehouses with logistics networks, common warehouse management challenges like space limitations and labor costs continue to be issues that should be addressed if you want to experience success.
If you’re looking for ways to increase efficiency and avoid delays in your warehouse, below are some common warehouse management issues along with solutions to help your organization overcome and thrive:
Staffing and Labor Costs
Staffing has been a common problem in warehouse operation management for as long as anyone can remember, but labor issues have become a much bigger deal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although pandemic-related supply chain bottlenecks have largely been worked out over the past year, warehouse managers still have to contend with external pressures like demands for remote work opportunities, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), and seasonal demands.
Throughout all of these challenges, staffing shortages and wage demands in the face of growing inflation have made it more difficult for some warehouse managers to keep trained workers on staff. Thankfully, warehouse managers can overcome these challenges in several ways.
First, consider your offer. While a salary is nice, today’s employees expect more than just a paycheck. Ask yourself if your company’s benefits are in line with worker expectations. Can your company provide non-monetary perks to make job openings more enticing? What are your experience and education expectations? Can you adjust job requirements to attract talented individuals who are more likely to stick around and invest themselves in your company?
Space management is another common warehouse management challenge that can be an ongoing battle. While vertical space may solve some space challenges, you can run out of vertical space just as easily as you can run out of horizontal floor space. Building additional warehouse space may be a solution, but this can be expensive and take months or even years to complete.
To overcome limitations on physical space, you’re encouraged to review your warehouse layout to look for inefficiencies. Simply stacking pallets to the ceiling isn’t going to do much good if you aren’t efficiently utilizing all available space. In fact, you may find that you can free up warehouse space by simply changing your layout and directing the flow of pallets differently.
For example, if you have incoming shipping pallets routed through processing areas, this may be an inefficient use of space. As your floor staff is busy with picking processes, your routing scheme may cause interruptions. This may ultimately slow down fulfillment processes, leading to delays and bottlenecks.
Instead, think about how to route incoming pallets around your processing areas. This can be a more efficient use of your physical space and may speed up the processing flow to free up space faster. Additionally, evaluate your staffing to see if you can get more done by spreading out your workforce over a larger area within your warehouse. Having too many employees working in a small space may be inefficient, but spreading workers out may multiply your productivity.
Inventory control and management are also common problems management faces in warehouse spaces. Although much of today’s inventory control is done by computers and no longer requires as many manual processes, inefficient picking, packing, and shipping can quickly bog down an order management system.
Most managers rely on solutions like barcode technology to overcome order management and fulfillment challenges in inventory control. This technology allows pallets and shipments to be scanned into an inventory management system, tracking items in real time as they move along a logistics network.
The use of AI can also improve efficiency and overcome inventory management challenges. AI tracking systems can identify pallets and keep track of their location, destination, and shipping history as each makes its way through a WMS.
AI can also be integrated into a WMS and connect Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to surmount warehouse management problems. IoT technologies allow networked components and systems to communicate with one another, and AI can then make smart decisions on the fly about routing pallets and the speed of shipments and processes.
The Rise of Online Retail
Another common challenge warehousing professionals face in the digital age is the rise of online retail and customer demand for faster shipping. While this trend didn’t start during the COVID-19 pandemic, that event certainly exaggerated it and caused it to grow.
Today, warehouse managers often face shorter turnaround times and an evolving need for warehouse space. At the same time, warehousing operations are expected to keep up with demand and remain flexible as faster order fulfillment becomes increasingly important.
To overcome these challenges, warehousing professionals must talk with suppliers to set expectations. Having a thorough conversation about your warehouse’s capabilities, along with your partners' needs, can help iron out kinks that can cause stress and mistakes in shipping and order fulfillment.
Partner with a Consultant
It’s also important to remember that no two warehouse operations are the same. Despite the fact that common warehouse management issues are shared among many warehouse operations, this doesn’t mean that they all apply to your warehouse or specific situation.
As a result, it’s a good idea to partner with a professional for consulting if you’ve run into challenges that aren’t easily overcome. A warehousing consultant can evaluate your needs and provide targeted solutions that speak to your company's specific challenges.
Contact Pallet Market Inc to Get Solutions for Your Warehousing Operation
Pallet Market Inc is your source for new pallets, broken pallet pickup, pallet sorting, and more. Our team is here to help you overcome common warehouse management issues, and we provide personalized service to improve efficiency and increase your bottom line.