Tips to Improve Material Handling Efficiency

Looking for ways to further streamline and improve efficiency in your operation? Here are seven best practices we’ve learned from our customers, shown to improve material handling productivity in warehouses around the country:

Assign pro’s to do put-away

  • Use experienced employees in receiving, they know the products and understand how to stock bins and shelves.
  • Have new employees start by filling orders. It helps them learn the products, customers and paperwork (or electronic inventory) system. It’s also easy to check their work as orders are packed for shipment.

    Schedule the arrival of trucks
  • Eliminate excessive waiting time in the yard and unneeded pressure on receivers and shippers.
  • The more efficient your truck arrival schedule, the fewer dock doors you’ll need to operate which can save you money on utilities.

    Use different shifts for shipping and receiving
  • Reduce the staging area requirements by half by receiving goods during one shift and shipping during another.

    Speed up unloading
  • Sitting trucks cause congestion on your yard.
  • Studies show that 60% of mass merchants unload trucks in less than one hour, while only 20-30% of the grocery industry performs at that standard. How does your facility measure up?

    Keep floors maintained
  • Defects in the floor’s surface can cause reduced productivity, because forklift operators are forced to slow down for safety.
  • Potholes and uneven or deteriorating floor section seams can also cause wheel wear and damage to the lift truck.
  • Floor defects can also lead to loads tipping and injury or product damage.

    Improve packing operations
  • Make sure packers get complete orders. They should not have to be looking for a missing item.
  • Observing their activities, do they have enough space?
  • They need enough room so they aren’t bumping into each other and tripping over boxes.
  • Maintain a consistent workflow so packing operations don’t fluctuate between dead periods and rush hour activity.
  • If you notice such fluctuations, it may be that your order picking process is not operating effectively and needs revising.

    Seek forklift operator input
  • You’ll improve efficiency by informing your lift truck operators of new process improvements.
  • Ask them to identify one task they perform and to detail what’s involved in performing the task. Then ask how it can be improved. You’ll be surprised with the good ideas they come up with.
  • Observe your best forklift operators to discover their process tricks. Have those operators teach others how to save time and/or effort. You may also discover a real leader among your forklift operators while improving your warehouse’s efficiency.