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  June 26th, 2023 | Written by

5 Practical Ways to Reduce Human Errors in Your Warehouse

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Human errors often undermine warehouse productivity. Profit and reputation are slowly eroded with each mistake that occurs. Everyone makes mistakes; any member of your workforce could go to the wrong location, forget to scan an item, or inadvertently pick up an incorrect quantity. These errors may be considered acceptable for running a warehouse, but they can be mitigated with the right strategies.

While human error may be responsible for some mistakes, the root cause most likely lies in your systems, processes, technology, environment, or equipment. Identifying and addressing the underlying issues can significantly reduce these errors. Here are five practical solutions that have proven highly effective:

1. Evaluate Your Storage Strategy

Take the time to periodically assess your storage methods and make necessary adjustments to optimize efficiency and utilize your warehouse space effectively. This strategy can considerably reduce human errors and should be one of the first things to take care of. Put in place the following:

High-demand items should be placed in easily accessible locations near the packing area. But do not lose focus – popular products will likely change over time. Make sure you regularly review your stock to understand trends and relocate the new in-demand items when needed.

Check to ensure proper labeling of all storage lots, slots, and bins has been carried out: every storage location should be clearly and accurately signed to avoid confusion and prevent misplaced items.

Use individual bins for each product and avoid storing multiple items within one bin, which can lead to picking complications. Each bin should contain only one type of product to simplify picking.

Conducting routine inventory checks is vital to help identify mislabeled or misplaced items, which are common causes of picking errors. Addressing mistakes during replenishment prevents downstream issues.

Consistently assign the same location for items with the same SKU. Keeping products with identical stock-keeping units in dedicated locations reduces the chances of errors during picking.

2. Implement a Warehouse Management System for Automation
Utilizing technology is a surefire way to reduce human error in the warehouse. The right technology can enhance workforce productivity and efficiency, leading to increased profitability. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a specialized software package designed to streamline, regulate, and optimize warehouse operations. The best systems organize and control every aspect, from when items enter to when they are shipped out.

An outstanding feature of a WMS is the capability to generate smart pick lists. These lists provide employees with the most efficient route through the warehouse, optimizing their picking process and reducing mistakes. By leveraging the power of a WMS, you empower your workforce to operate with error-free precision.

Other exciting technological advancements in warehouse management include using drones and robots. Keeping abreast of the latest knowledge and innovation is essential to improving accuracy and reducing errors.

3. Checks, Measures and Validation
To effectively reduce mistakes, measuring their frequency during specific periods is crucial. Choose a consistent measure, such as the percentage of accurately picked orders on the first attempt, to help your analysis. Also, consider factors beyond the warehouse, like return and complaint rates. A reliable WMS system can assist in measuring and reporting these errors.

Emphasize responsibility and involvement by holding warehouse staff accountable for their errors. The use of labels and barcodes helps to identify workers or products that cause specific issues. Look for trends and take action – it may not be an individual but  a problematic process or location.

Depending on the severity and frequency of errors, you may need to decide whether additional steps are necessary. Weight checks or triple signatures involving the picker, checker, and driver are alternative options depending on your process, workforce, and available technology.

When you have accurate numbers, it’s easier to spot trends and issues. A robust and measurable system must be implemented to collect good data. Don’t leave it to guesswork.

4. Improve The Working Environment
A fatigued and uncomfortable workforce will likely make errors. Simple changes like providing comfortable floor matting in areas where employees stand for extended periods can make a significant difference. Air conditioning, heating or better lighting may also add to your staff’s comfort. Don’t consider it an expense; view it as an investment in your people. Show your team that you care about their well-being as they operate the warehouse.

Make sure that all storage areas are easy to access. If you hold large, heavy items, such as engineered wood flooring or furniture, the product must be easy to move by forklift. When shifting things is difficult, errors occur because staff are reluctant to complete the work correctly.

5. Take a Look at Employee Satisfaction
When staff feel demotivated, they are not invested in your company, and workers who are pushed to reach unachievable targets cut corners. Both of these factors lead to mistakes that hurt your bottom line.

Ensure that your workplace is open and honest. Allow workers to admit errors without fear of the repercussions – establish a reporting route or process that is easy to use. Take error admission as an opportunity to improve things and lower the rate of mistakes.

You can raise morale in many ways; put steps in place to ensure your workforce is engaged, motivated, accountable, and adequately rewarded. Drive down mistakes and increase productivity in a more original way – a blame culture is never successful in the workplace.

In Summary
Reducing human errors in your warehouse is critical. Mistakes impact productivity, efficiency, and overall success. You can make a considerable difference by implementing a series of practical strategies and regularly reviewing the impact.

By adopting these practical approaches, you will develop a culture of accuracy, continuous improvement, and efficiency in your warehouse. Embrace these strategies and pave the way for a thriving, error-free warehouse environment.