The word “bottleneck” can send a shiver down the spine of any warehouse manager. In a professional world that’s dependent on the smooth, efficient movement of products, business leaders must focus on ways to eliminate problems and distractions. This list of ways to eliminate end-of-line packaging bottlenecks will help warehouse owners and leaders cut down on the biggest disruptors to their work. In this list, you may find worthwhile ideas that could help you keep everything running smoothly.
Ensure Orders Are Fully Picked
You can avoid packaging bottlenecks if you make sure your packers can focus solely on packaging. To do this, the orders they receive must be entirely picked and completed. They should not lose time filling in blanks or in some other way finishing someone else’s job.
Do not put the picking responsibilities on your packers. Rather, create an “exception cart” where problematic or incomplete orders can be addressed. This will eliminate a common packing bottleneck. On another note, you should also hold your pickers to a high accuracy standard. Doing so will stop them from making corrections.
Arrange Products by Their Number
This tip will allow you to move past a difficult bottleneck. You should arrange your products by their number as opposed to their category or name. This will make tracking down the product far easier and faster. Anyone on your floor can see the number and instantly know where to put it in the sequence.
This simple yet effective method is one of the easiest ways to eliminate end-of-line packaging bottlenecks. Be purposeful and methodical in your organizational approach, and make sure you communicate the expectations clearly to your team.
Keep Your Packers Stocked
Your employees may need a wide variety of materials close at hand when they are completing packages. If they run out of any one of the materials, it could halt the process for some time. Bottlenecks occur as employees scramble to get restocked—but it can be avoided.
Take careful note of how quickly you run through materials. Once you have everything timed out, prepare to have your materials replenished regularly throughout the day. Also, stay on top of your material orders. Completely running out of stock will lead to a terrible bottleneck.
Flow racks or shelves are beneficial because products can be filled from behind, then picking continues as the items move along. Intelligent warehouse owners organize their shelves in a horseshoe shape, placing the packing station at the very top. The system can speed up since packers will be stationed at the line’s beginning and end. You can dramatically bring down the travel times using this sort of system.
Give Packers Their Space
While maximizing your space is essential, you also must be careful not to make an intensely cramped packaging area. You do not want to leave your packers too close together. If you create an environment where workers fight over space, bump into each other, or where packaging materials create a lot of clutter, it’s time to make changes.
Expand the workspace so that packers can keep everything clear and organized. Make sure workers don’t accidentally interfere with each other. This will help avoid bottlenecks and conflict in your warehouse.
Divide Picked Orders
Packers must focus on a single type of task to reach peak efficiency in packaging. Any warehouse or factory owner can tell you that bottlenecks can develop quickly if packers have to break momentum and face new developments in their procedure. For instance, packers may be confused if they suddenly have to handle oversized products after primarily dealing with small, single items.
Avoid this kind of confusion by splitting packers into groups for orders that are multi, single, and oversized. This will help maintain efficiency and focus. Additionally, for that reason, it may be a good idea to create a separate section for wrapping gifts during the holidays.
Picking the product is one of the operations in a warehouse that requires the most labor. You can optimize labor productivity in that process by using automation to minimize congestion. If you are able to reduce or reallocate labor in this scenario, you can dramatically reduce this type of bottleneck.
For instance, an automated retrieval system will give you 100 percent accessible storage and deliver items at an ergonomically optimized height to eliminate stretching, reaching, and bending. Through this system, you will not only improve productivity, but you’ll also reduce stress on employees and limit potential injuries.
One of the most common ways a warehouse experiences an end-of-line bottleneck is if a machine breaks down. Waiting hours or days for a machine to get up and running again could mean thousands of dollars lost. You need to invest in a preventative maintenance program and consider keeping spare parts on hand in the event you have a downtime issue with your equipment. This will avoid bottlenecks and optimize your performance.
Plan to perform an audit on all your end-of-line handling materials. Find productivity inefficiencies and eliminate them before they become a serious problem.
Count the Steps
Bottlenecks don’t always occur because of one big oversight in the process. Sometimes, orders become bottlenecked because of a series of small holdups that add up. As a business owner or manager, calculate the number of steps your packers take to understand how regularly they reach, bend, or strain during their responsibilities.
Pedometers can be a useful device for tracking a worker’s movements throughout the workday. They can also assess the outcomes of any improvements you attempt. The fewer steps put upon your packers, the more efficient your end-of-line packaging process becomes.
Warehouse owners and managers should maintain a steady, sustained process for their products as they move through the building. To that end, they must stop end-of-line packaging bottlenecks before they develop into serious, ongoing problems. This requires careful attention to detail, a problem-solving outlook, and a refusal to settle for anything less than perfect.
People who work in warehouses have a responsibility to leverage everything at their disposal to maintain a process without bottlenecks. So, to that end, it may be helpful to look into technological advancements, such as a semi-automatic or automatic rotary arm stretch wrapping machine at Robopac USA.