Thanks in part to the rise of e-commerce, warehouses are facing higher demands than ever.
Admittedly, this is a good problem to have, and warehouses can adapt to greater demand through a combination of adequate staffing and flexible strategies. The right approaches allow for a warehouse to ramp up or wind down processes based on demand.
Consider the following ways to address high demand in your warehouse.
3 Ways To Meet Higher Demand
1. Promotional Item(s) Picking Strategies
Various peak cycles produce different demands on a warehouse facility. In particular, retail promotions can drive a significant rise in single-line orders for the product(s) being promoted.
In multi-channel facilities, a picking system has to be sufficiently versatile to manage different peak-demand scenarios. An effective way to handle promotional peaks is to position promotional inventory near the pack station, which makes for more efficient and faster picking.
To deal with multi-line orders, including a multi-line order that includes a promotional product and a different non-promotional product, managers can figure out if it’s more cost-effective to put both items in one package or to ship two individual packages.
2. Flexible and Scalable
Warehouse layouts ought to have flexible designs that can suit modern operational needs while being scalable to handle growth. One effective approach is to avoid bolting a lot of machinery to the floor, and instead, leaning heavily on technology to handle inventory, orders and picking.
Many warehouses use an automated picking engine to handle normal demand, and a semi-automated or manual solution to address peak demand. For example, an automated conveyor could send totes to a fixed put wall for off-peak times, while two mobile put walls near the pack station would be used for peak demand. Totes could then be sent via conveyor or by hand to the temporary workstations to fill orders. If demand rises, the facility can scale up by just putting in more mobile put walls.
Peak demand impacts all areas of a warehouse, and the manager must develop strategies to receive during peak or take care of the outflow in order to meet cutoff times for carriers.
3. More Staffing
Many people collectively see demand issues in a warehouse as a staffing issue. One option would be to build up flexible staffing guidelines that incorporate peak period considerations. For instance, experienced part-time employees could supplement full-time staff when necessary.
A different approach would be to cross-train employees from other departments, particularly those in jobs that include training on warehouse equipment. All temporary employees can handle picking and packing, but it is hard to find temporary employees that can run warehouse equipment that requires training and licenses.
Managers looking to use temporary or cross-trained employees should also try to find ways to simplify operations wherever possible. In the packing department, for example, illustrations could how to pack particular products, and temporary employees can be given instruction sheets for handling various scenarios. Processes for these workers should be so straightforward, anyone could handle them.
Let Us Help Your Warehouse Meet Demand!
At Cornerstone, we help warehouses meet high demand periods by providing them with best-fit talent solutions. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your warehouse.