Effective Rules for Warehouse Operations

Over the past 41 years I have observed operations in many warehouses.  Some of these facilities were well organized and efficiently received, stored, and shipped products.  Others had substantial material handling challenges.  One common factor in successful warehouses is that they all have documented policies and procedures for every type of material movement, as well as specific rules for employee conduct.  Here are some common general rules that have been adopted by our “best of class” clients:

  1. All material movement should be properly recorded in the organization’s computer system [i.e., enterprise resource planning (ERP) warehouse management system (WMS) computer software].
  1. If for some reason a material disbursement cannot be immediately recorded in the organization’s computer system, it will be recorded on a clipboard mounted on the wall at each warehouse exit. Assigned clerical employees will enter transactions listed on the clipboard at least once a day.
  1. Any material disbursements not properly recorded in the organization’s computer system, or on a clipboard, will be considered to be stolen. The organization will actively prosecute all instances of theft.
  1. It is the responsibility of all warehouse personnel to maintain a clean and orderly warehouse. Trash should be picked up and placed in a waste receptacle.  Employees should notify management (by notes on a warehouse “white board” or other means) if they discover misplaced or damaged stock.
  1. Employees should always be neat in appearance. Due to the possibility of injury loose clothing is not permitted.
  1. Due to the possibility of injury, portable entertainment systems or cell phones that utilize headsets may not be used in the warehouse while employees are working.
  1. All warehouse workers are responsible for reviewing and knowing all sections of the organization’s Policy and Procedure manual that pertain to their job functions.
  1. All warehouse personnel are assigned individual aisles in the warehouse by management to inspect and cleanup at the end of each work day. Tasks to be completed include:
  • Remove any trash from the aisle
  • Note any inventory that needs to be repackaged or reworked (notifications will be sent to warehouse management)
  • Note any primary bin locations that are low on stock and need to be replenished from alternate bin locations (notifications will be sent to warehouse management)
  1. Each warehouse employee’s annual review will include a discussion of how well they follow the work rules outlined in this manual that pertain to their job.

By documenting policies and procedures, employees know what is expected of them.  This leads to effective and efficient warehouse operations.

Next month we will start our discussion of developing procedures for each type of material movement.  In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions.