Improving Efficiency in Warehousing

The transport, postal and warehousing industry is often considered the backbone of the Australian economy. Essentially, all other sectors rely on this huge, multi-billion industry. According to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, this important sector contributed $69.8 billion (5.1 per cent) to the total Australian economy in 2011-12.

For this reason, efficiency and productivity in the transport, postal and warehousing industry is vital to ensuring Australia can compete in the global market. All goods and exports need to be correctly stored, shipped and protected through every step of the supply chain, delivering these products from the manufacturer to the end-user locally and abroad.

Making sure your company is operating at full efficiency and making positive contributions to the Australian economy may require you to make certain investments in warehousing products. Additionally, workplace policies to make sure your workers are performing at their best are also key, particularly in areas related to health and safety.

There are several steps you can take to improve efficiency, protect your workers’ safety and achieve production goals. Here are three key strategies that could help:

Promote safe lifting

Continuing with health and safety in warehousing, correct lifting techniques could be the key to unlocking productivity. Of the workers injured in the ABS report, 34 per cent sustained their injury through lifting, pushing, pulling or bending. A further 9 per cent were injured due to repetitive movement with low muscle loading.

Within a warehousing business, there are many potential circumstances when workers may be required to lift heavy stock and move product through the site. Making those working in your company deal with these tasks by hand is unlikely to have positive impacts on both their health and on your company’s productivity. Instead, investing in manual handling support tools, like platform ladders pallet jacks and scissor lift tables, will not only ensure your workers are safe, but also boost production as heavy stock is moved into place faster and more efficiently.

Remove safety hazards

One of the biggest causes of lost productivity is days required off work by sick or injured workers. According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 76 per 1,000 workers suffered an injury or illness that qualified for a worker’s compensation claim between July 2013 and June 2014.

Of these individuals, 61 per cent took some time off due to their injury, with 29 per cent taking five or more days and 2 per cent not returning to work at all by the time of the study.

With these statistics, it is easy to see how quickly efficiency can be impacted. When your company is operating with fewer staff, it is likely that your output and productivity will not be as high. This is why it is important to address any known hazards in the workplace, to reduce the instances of accidents and injuries.

Warehouses are high-risk sites in Australia, with the sector representing part of the country’s most dangerous industry, according to Safe Work Australia. Safety and hazards should therefore be a priority for any warehousing business owner, and comprehensive WHS strategies should have a major impact on efficiency in this sector.

Streamline traffic

Larger warehouses often rely on forklifts to move products and pallets between shelving units. While this is a great way to increase efficiency with speed and the ability to carry heavy loads, it can also put workers at risk if the plant shares space with pedestrians.

Streamlining your traffic flows is a good way to promote speed without sacrificing safety. For instance, you could separate vehicle roadways from pedestrian access by installing fencing and bollards. If this is unreasonable in your site’s layout, consider painting recommended pathways on the ground as guidelines people can default to in times of high risk.

By following these suggestions, your company could experience significant increases in efficiency. Now is the time to get started to see how safety can benefit your business.