A Warehouse Practitioner is a person who calls the warehouse their second home: it is a place of work, and a place to advance their career. Highly effective Warehouse Practitioners apply their mind to finding ways to do things better. These are 7 habits that Warehouse Practitioners can instil in their daily practices to improve that day to day operations of the business:
Highly effective Warehouse Practitioners ensure that all documents are accurately recorded with correct quantities and values. All physical movement of inventory in or out, or within the warehouse must be accounted for correctly and the system is updated correctly and quickly to ensure that records are accurate. The physical movement of inventory and systems movement must always match. Control of opening balance for all inventory items plus receipts, less issues will provide the closing balance and this must be managed and controlled effectively.
The Warehouse Practitioner has a responsibility to ensure that the warehouse is a safe environment in which to operate. This means keeping the warehouse clean and free from clutter. Good housekeeping also implies that a smooth operation, without hiccups, is a priority for all personnel; that no injuries and accidents occur due to negligence, that no exposed shape edges can inflict harm on personnel and inventory, that the correct use of PPE is adhered to and that there are cowboys on forklifts operating in the warehouse.
A highly effective Warehouse Practitioner has the company’s best interests at heart and wear the “company hat” at all times. This means that all policy and procedures, which affect the warehouse, are strictly adhered to and that compliance is a non-negotiable factor. Providing excellent customer service to both internal and external customers becomes second nature to an accomplished Warehouse Practitioner.
Mentoring and Coaching
Having all warehouse personnel striving for the same objectives is what makes a warehouse super-efficient. The Warehouse Practitioner has a responsibility to provide mentoring and coaching to all team members to ensure that these objectives are met. Mentoring and coaching implies that a team member can take any task to the mentor for further explanation and guidance on the correct way to do things and that a non-threating environment is in place to allow this to happen. Having motivated team members makes a day in the warehouse a pleasure and treating team members with respect and dignity will achieve this goal.
Productivity is defined as the volume of throughput that is achieved against the standard, or expected time, available within a set period of time. The quicker a job gets done, the more productive the team is. Of course, accuracy should not be sacrificed in order to achieve speed, this must be a joint objective. By having systems and processes in place that ensure quick turnaround of receiving, put-away, replenishment, picking, packing, staging and issuing, the more productive a team will become. By applying this philosophy, there may be times when the team are not busy with fulfilling orders, this time should not be wasted but rather used to focus on housekeeping issues and other activities in the warehouse which can improve productivity in the long run.
Management by Walking Around
The concept of management by walking around, or MBWA as it is also known, is a technique of engaging with team members, equipment and other resources to gain an understanding of the current workload and status of various activities. This can be used to ensure that receipts and issues are processed on time, highlight any problem areas, conduct spot checks and check equipment for soundness. Checking frequently for damages, expired stock and that FIFO principles are being applied, are some of the habits of highly effective Warehouse Practitioners.
Security of Inventory
By instilling the correct attitude towards security in a warehouse, a Warehouse Practitioner can have an influence on the profitability of the business. Any stock losses, due to theft or damages, are directly in the control of the Warehouse Practitioner. No external parties should have unauthorised access to the warehouse and this should be strictly controlled. The management and control of hazardous materials must be handled according to legislation and the correct storage requirements are adhered to.
By following these principles and instilling them as habits, and aiming for excellence every day, a Warehouse Practitioner can be highly effective, and an extremely valuable member, of the business operation.