3 tips on improving warehouse efficiency & productivity

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I found this course very informative and easy to understand. I am just getting started in working with supply chains/manufacturing and enjoyed this free course.
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Principal Keyword: Gemba

Maximizing warehouse productivity by optimizing workflows through automating processes is a strategic objective for businesses. As that goes towards reducing wastage of both resources and time. Nonetheless, since warehousing operations are complex in nature. Due to their containing multiple moving parts and functions, achieving operational efficiency by improving productivity is easier said than done. Because it is not that simple to determine where your efforts would pay off.

Fortunately, supply chain management techniques are available. Which are used scientifically to help you progress towards achieving your goal of minimizing wastes and maximizing productivity. This article presents three valuable tips that would guide you to achieve this.  To add value to your business operations, the tips presented here combine good practices from the angles of workflow, safety, management leadership.

These tips have been made keeping in the background, Gemba, which literally means ‘the real place’, which in this case is the warehouse.  It occupies an indispensable place in ‘Lean Management’ for the reason it is the place where the real work happens.

Gemba contains three elements:

  • Going and seeing (walking)
  • asking why
  • giving the due to the workforce by adopting a team approach rather than a boost style.


  1. Streamline workflows

Streamlining the workflows through the organization of workstations confer the benefit of improving productivity. The logic of this is that the workforce no longer needs to search for locations of equipment and tools. Technically, it calls for the application of the ‘5S’ methodology of ‘lean manufacturing.

Thus by implementing the systematic steps of ‘5S’, namely:

  • sorting
  • setting in order
  • shining
  • standardizing
  • sustaining

It is possible to keep away the clutter and reduce the scope for errors, which would improve warehouse efficiency. Thus, the designing of workstations to suit the tasks help in the realization of greater efficiency and productivity in everyday work as well long term.

  1. Focus to reduce injuries

While eliminating injuries is what the businesses wish for, it is something that altogether cannot be eliminated, but proper attention to the perils which occupational hazard creates can bring about the incidence. It is common knowledge that the risk of warehousing injuries is double that of those found in other industries. This calls for the investigation of the causes of injuries, design, and implementation of ‘ergonomic’ measures. Such measures include sensitizing the workers to use proper lifting techniques by informing them the fact when their bodies align with parts lifted, it would not result in their having to back twist their postures. This would minimize the cause of injuries.

In addition, they should be provided with mechanical assistance as forklifts, carts, conveyors, rollers, pallet lifts, etc.

A realization on the part of the management as well as the workforce that workplace safety plays a welfare-related role would bring in both economic and motivational benefits. The economic ones being the reduction in the absence of workers resulting in financial losses for the management. While the welfare one would bring in a sense of feeling on the part of workers who cared for, enhancing their motivational level and output.

  1. Leadership initiatives

Leadership is a culture that determines every conceivable aspect of how your business performs. Pro-active leaders make it a habit to plan,  implement, monitor progress, take curative actions in an ongoing manner. And in short, take responsibility to holistically manage all the aspects that result in fulfillment. In addition, leaders make it a point to listen to their subordinates on factors that drag productivity. Leaders also look beyond the internal environment and keeping continuous touch with the suppliers. They know they are an important stakeholder. And maintaining a harmonious relationship with them would enable the functioning of their warehouse productively.

Leaders also understand they need to invest in technology that is compatible with their line of operations.  Using barcode labels on products, cases, pallets would increase the inventory accuracy. By letting the warehouse personnel know what is available, the quantities, and where they are located. In short, deploying automatic identification and data collection technology would improve warehouse efficiency, productivity in general, and supply chain operations in particular.

The practical takeaway of our article is that the key elements of warehousing efficiency are a joint responsibility of all the stakeholders involved in a business. Whether in the capacity of a leader who manages the operations. The warehousing personnel has the desire to learn and follow the measures with the belief that it is in their own interest to do so. And a feeling in the process they are contributing to the running of their organizations professionally.

Gemba offers ways and means to build stable and sustainable warehousing operations. By identifying problems at work, solving them with a plan of action and implementation, while keeping the tab on continuous improvements. All these can go into realizing the objectives for which you are running your business.



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