The terms 'small' and 'warehouse' are not often seen together but every now and then we find ourselves believing we have outgrown our warehouse workspace. This can happen for many reasons, such as large amounts of stock arriving all at once, slow periods, holiday periods or over ordering on stock.

But often, a warehouse can feel small simply because we are not using the space as effectively as we could be. This article will focus on what happens when we use warehouse space poorly, what we can do to avoid it and changes we can make to ensure we don't make the same mistakes again.

To get the right answers I asked our very own warehouse team the question 'what conditions make you feel like your workspace is too small?' and this is what they came up with.

Cutting corners to meet deadlines.

When staff have to move quickly and are put under pressure to get jobs done fast this can result in 'just putting the stock anywhere' in an effort to get it off the floor, or for the container to be unloaded quickly. The next day, staff find themselves busy again and the mistakes from yesterday are not fixed, resulting in multiple errors and overall, creating a disorganised environment. The team pointed out that poor use of warehouse space doesn't generally happen overnight, but rather builds up over time.

'Getting it right the first time' is paramount for an efficient warehouse. Even if this means it takes a little longer initially - it will be worth it in the long run.

Staff that aren't trained properly.

No one likes being micro-managed, but it is important that if errors are made they are picked up quickly and fixed straight away. Try to avoid fixing the problem 'for' the staff member, but rather show them the error and coach them on how to fix it themselves. If you are the staff member, remember that your boss it's simply trying to show you the correct way to do things, and this coaching will make you a better employee.

Improper planning

The initial planning stages of a warehouse are paramount to its success. Figuring out the correct picking order can save hours upon hours of time later on.

Additionally, if large quantities of stock are expected or brand new items are going to be stocked in the warehouse, plan for this prior to the shipment arriving! In a perfect world you will have the pallet spaces ready for the new stock prior to its arrival, but if this is not possible, take the time to plan the process once the stock arrives before diving in head first and having to complete the work twice when it's not done properly the first time.

Inefficient use of space

Try to plan a 'warehouse walk' as often as you need it with fresh eyes. For large companies this might be everyday, for smaller businesses once a month might be achievable. Better yet, take a staff member with you who doesn't work in the environment every day, because chances are they will be able to see things you don't. Small things such as consolidating 2 pallets into 1 can save a large amount of space, especially if this is done over multiple pallets. Be open to new suggestions on how to do things and avoid the old 'but that's the way we have always done it' cliché. If you would prefer an independent party to help or are interested in us visiting your site to make recommendations, we can help with this.

Some of the best people to ask about better ways to do things are your own employees, so take a walk out in your own warehouse, ask your team questions about more efficient ways of doing things, then act on the responses. You might be surprised how much better your warehouse will run and how 'big' your factory will seem all of a sudden!