Controlling costs in your warehouse can be a difficult balancing act, especially when one cost far outweighs the rest. Labor comprises the largest part of a warehouse’s operating expenses, and it’s an ongoing challenge to manage those costs without sacrificing customer service and damaging productivity.

1. Examine and evaluate your facility. Put a team together and start with the basics, like warehouse layout. Measure worker performance, too—identify who is doing what and whether they’re performing within appropriate timeframes. Start with order picking operations, then move on to packing, receiving, and replenishment.

2. Identify areas where your organization is slow. For example, watch the overall flow of your packing and picking processes. Are your products organized properly? Are they in ergonomically sound locations with ample storage space?

3. Perform real-time troubleshooting on your data-gathering devices. If they are functioning poorly or not at all, your warehouse operations will be disrupted and your workers will be less efficient. And why keep expensive spare parts or devices sitting on a shelf?

4. Implement automated data-gathering.  Instead of using manual, paper-driven methods for picking, and gathering shipping information, use tools such as handheld scanners and bar-code readers on the warehouse floor. These tools will improve accuracy, make personnel more efficient, and help operations run smoothly.

5. Reduce or eliminate the need for manual labeling—and the associated costs of dedicated labor—by automating label application in the warehouse. Your employees can then work on higher-value tasks, and automation will reduce the risk of improperly placed labels that can cause supply chain bottlenecks or product rejections, both of which can lead to manual intervention and costly work-around or downtime.

6. Keep your software and training up to date. Use remote device management to make certain all devices, in every location, load the latest software automatically when placed in their charging racks. Use a device management platform to remotely train users on new software, so you can walk them through simulations of new features and applications without having to schedule special training.

7. Reduce warehouse labor turnover. It costs money to hire and train employees, so do your best to keep the ones you have. Motivate your employees through financial incentives, employee recognition programs or special perks for great performance.

If you find yourself short of qualified full-time employees, or if you need to add or subtract skilled warehouse supply chain employees with the rise and fall of your business needs, don’t hesitate to contact ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting. We know and understand the employment needs of the warehouse/distribution side of supply chain.