Poor workflow leads to losses in productivity

The average worker loses 15 minutes of his or her 8-hour day because of inefficient workflow design.

That's according to a 2012 survey of 250 supply chains by Intermec research that highlights a trend many warehouse managers are already familiar with: Inefficient workflow strategies drain productivity.

While 15 minutes a day might sound like a small amount, it can add up to a significant percentage of working hours and have a sizeable financial impact on businesses of all sizes.

For a warehouse with 50 staff, this daily loss of time adds up to 3,000 hours of productivity every year. For those with more than 50 staff, these losses increase even further.

In the survey, 20 per cent of warehouse managers said packing and loading were some of the most inefficient processes within their operations. Picking and inventory control also ranked highly, with 18 per cent concerned about wasted time during this process.

While this might seem like a big challenge, there is good news for warehouse managers who want to improve their operations. New technologies can offer better materials handling in any warehouse operation. In fact, 89 per cent of those surveyed believe the best way to improve work processes would be through new technology.

Equipment like automatic pallet wrappers and powered tugs can improve the operations of a warehouse environment. Automating time-consuming tasks and using machinery to aid with materials handling jobs is an easy solution to productivity loss.

At the same time, a strong commitment from management is essential. As many as 28 per cent of those surveyed suggested that only compliance issues would make them review their handling processes, despite the fact that small changes can easily give operations an advantage over the competition.

By taking these steps, companies can be sure their warehouses are operating efficiently and not wasting time and resources.