Managing inventory in a warehouse setting isn’t necessarily rocket science. No matter how complex your system is or how much inventory you’ve got, items come in and items go out. And so long as you have proper checks and balances in place, you shouldn’t have too much trouble managing things. That said, your warehouse facility can be a fast-paced work environment. And any time you have people working together, human error can become an issue. For example, an employee may stock inventory without first logging it into your system. Or labels may be scanned incorrectly. Merchandise arriving to your warehouse might get accepted based on an inventory packing list when in fact, there has been a mix-up in shipping that would have been caught upon inspection of the goods. In short, you may have to adopt stringent standards and practices in order to better control your inventory. Here are a few tips to get your business warehouse operating like a well-oiled machine.
- Implement barcodes and scanners. There’s just no good reason why you should still be using an old-school, paper checklist format when it comes to logging inventory. Get over your fear of technology and implement a system of barcodes and scanners that ensures you always know what’s in your warehouse and where you can find it. You’ll soon wonder how you ever got by without this expedient inventory solution.
- Control access. The more people you have handling inventory, the greater chance something will slip through the cracks. While you certainly want a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that no single employee has unfettered access without oversight (opening the door to mistakes or theft), you also don’t want every staffer to have their hands in the cookie jar, so to speak. By limiting access and compartmentalizing tasks, there’s a better chance you’ll catch errors and pinpoint the responsible party or parties.
- Check and double check. Even if there’s a lot of work to be done, it’s important to make it clear that employees need to pay close attention every time they check orders in and out of inventory. Taking the time to double check work will ensure fewer mistakes and inventory reports that are balanced.
- Run inventory counts regularly. You probably perform either quarterly or annual inventory counts for your warehouse facility. But you might want to set up a schedule of smaller counts more frequently (say, one section one week, another section the next week, and so on) as a means of quality control between major inspections.
- Prioritize storage. It’s tempting to set up a system that is alphabetical, chronological, or otherwise incrementally arranged. But the truth is, like most businesses, you likely have some items that are more popular than others. If you want your warehouse operation to remain efficient, you’ll have to find better ways to prioritize your storage space, and this could mean stocking your best-selling items closest to loading and unloading zones for ease of access and optimal inventory control. And when you have the right storage solutions in place, including locking cabinets or products from Cantilever-Racks.com, just for example, you’ll have an easier time controlling, counting, and arranging inventory.