The five biggest challenges for warehouse management

posted by Danielle Whittaker
4 February 2022

From accidents and human error delaying deliveries to labour and redundant processes costing time and money, there are many challenges facing managers in the warehouse sector. 

With technologies including automation, asset tagging, warehouse management systems and more, you can overcome these challenges and make your warehouse more efficient and cost-effective. 

1. Warehouse layout

There are plenty of causes for warehouse accidents, one of which is a poorly planned warehouse layout. When your warehouse layout and supply flow are optimised, management and workers are given more visibility over where goods are going to and coming from, ultimately reducing the potential for accidents caused by traffic or improperly stored materials or products. 

Using modular thinking, where common functions can be adapted as configurable modules for repetitive usage, you can introduce new technologies like automation to improve your warehouse optimisation.

2. Inventory accuracy

With increasingly high expectations from customers and clients, inventory tracking is becoming more critical to warehouse management, which minimises the room for human error. 

Failed deliveries cost time and money, and with physical checks to correct errors leading to delayed shipments and mis-picks, you’re wasting even more. 

Improve your inventory management accuracy and reduce your potential for downtime-inducing and costly mistakes by using inventory tracking, asset tagging with an RFID system and warehouse automation. 

3. Picking optimisation

Picking is where a majority of warehouse management problems occur. According to Conveyco, walking and manually picking orders can account for more than 50% of the time associated with picking.

Where tasks are done in a hurry, errors that cost time and money will disrupt your inventory control systems. Efficient picking will minimise your employees’ time wasted and maximise your productivity. 

A warehouse management system (WMS) will improve picking optimisation by automatically generating picking lists and displaying the available inventory on a real-time basis. This system means pickers can see the status of orders when they come in to see when demand will increase. 

You can also improve your processes by tracking picking metrics such as time to ship, total units to storage, picking accuracy, warehouse capacity and inventory turnover. With these measurements in place, managers can discover which areas are performing better than others and which stages need further work. 

4. Labour costs

Increasing productivity while reducing labour costs is a balancing act for many warehouse managers. Using expensive equipment and large labour forces, from cleaners and packers to managers and administrators, has become a bigger issue due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of social distancing and vulnerable staff members. 

By using automated systems, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) can take on repetitive manual tasks, ensuring employees can focus on more important, strategic tasks. 

AGVs follow digital paths through a warehouse and offer the ability to load and unload pallets, boxes and other containers for more efficient and cost-effective goods handling.

5. Redundant processes

With most warehouses performing several operations in multiple workflows at one time, it becomes increasingly likely that some actions, such as sorting, may repeat unnecessarily, leading to an increase in labour cost and taking up time you don’t have. 

By deleting unnecessary or obsolete steps, automation can make the process more agile and increase speed, ultimately improving client experience and reducing your costs. 

Warehouse managers face many challenges as we begin 2022, but with new technologies constantly developing, they can face these challenges head-on. From AGVs offering efficient automation to WMS improving picking optimisation and warehouse layout, you can get ahead of these challenges with full visibility and control over all operations. 

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