In my article “Importance of standardization in warehouse production” (see link below) I discuss the importance of standardization. Something that is equally important is communication and follow-up on the standardization. I like to network and meet colleagues in the logistics business, often when I walk around in other warehouses and look at walls and racks I see good looking signs and manuals about almost everything like where to put transport labels and tape dispensers on the packing tables. But when I look if the employees follow these routines I often notice that is not the case.
That is the big problem, the easy stuff is to make good looking signs and routines and the tough part is to communicate the importance to follow these routines and to follow up if the staff really do it. It is incredibly important to explain the purpose of a new standard or routine. Is it because it ensures quality or increases efficiency? It may be because of the safety of the staff. The absolute best thing is if the staff can be involved in the development of working methods. Then you have the best anchoring and it feels more natural to work according the new standards.
If you have implemented a established WMS it is very important to have manuals and follow up that staff use the established routines. I have seen really terrible examples regarding this. One company I visited had a great WMS, very complex and a lot of features. But the warehouse manager told me that he wasn’t satisfied with the WMS. I asked why and he explained that the staff’s picking efficiency varied greatly and they had difficulty getting ready until the departures of the trucks. When I started to look into the matter I saw that the staff did not use the automatic ques feature in the WMS. The WMS released orders that were relevant regarding truck departure and the most effective picking rounds on each forklift. Instead the staff looked at a PC with the administrative module of WMS and chose the orders with minimum weight and few order lines and manually typed them into the forklift computer. It was no wonder they had a problem with efficiency!
The above story is just one example of many, how things can go wrong unless the management in the warehouse communicates the importance of following the standards and regularly follows up on this.
But to collaborate with the staff and develop new standards demands a great leadership. Also to communicate and give feedback. The warehouse managers and the supervisors need great leadership skills. It is not enough to invest in new technology like WMS you also need to invest in leadership to get maximum leverage.
Below you find my article about standardization in warehouse:
If you are interested in getting the maximum of your WMS please read my article below:
If you are interested in warehouse leadership and want to develop your skills I recommend you to read my article below: