Your warehouse strategic plan should be written in pencil, not ink. That means it should always be a work in progress, evolving with the changing needs and challenges of your business. Managers must continuously evaluate and optimize their warehouse operation and adjust to achieve warehouse efficiency.
The plan is never complete, but there are certain elements that should always be included.
4 key elements to a warehouse strategic plan
Knowing how to access operations to identify weaknesses and strengths is essential to planning. Identifying challenges, what’s going wrong, and why is the foundation of these 4 key elements.
1. An outline of current operations
Document the layout of the facility, the forklifts and equipment in it; how inventory is tracked and managed; and the everyday operational processes. You cannot make improvements until you see the big picture.
- Include a scaled floor plan, detailing the entire warehouse facility. Note all equipment within the warehouse. Outline the processes and staff responsibilities in each section.
- Examine protocol and required procedures within each section. Use telematic data to identify any discrepancies in what should be happening versus what is actually happening regarding work procedures, safety, and maintenance.
- Include feedback from employees from each section of the facility. They know better than anyone else where challenges or inefficiencies hide.
2. Inventory requirements based on current demand
Fluctuating inventory requires continuous evaluation to optimize storage space and forklift routing. This includes predicting the amount of stock required at different times of the year (seasonality) and determining the best location for efficient access.
- Include historical telematic data on inventory turnover to make accurate estimates.
- Real-time visibility is key to tracking the physical processes of product flow and order fulfillment. Leverage this to improve inventory efficiency and optimize each operator’s time.
- Look at routing efficiency and impacts due to placement of inventory or reduced visibility. For example, use telematics to identify traffic patterns and determine the best route for product movement or to adjust job assignment patterns for better fleet utilization and driver productivity.
3. A strategy to address challenges and improve operations
Identify critical areas in need of improvement. Set KPI goals and outline how they will be tracked for analysis.
- Plan for a proactive response to KPIs that miss their benchmark.
- Look at your warehouse facilities, processes, and the equipment you are using. Search for the most efficient and practical solutions to any weaknesses in your operation.
4. A revised strategic plan with implemented solutions
If things that are not working, make adjustments. Use telematic data to dig down to the root of each issue and determine new solutions to these problems.
Leveraging real-time data on every moving part in the facility is vital to strategic warehouse planning. Factual data that tells you what’s wrong and how to fix it can help eliminate waste and facilitate informed decisions to continuously improve your warehouse strategic plan.