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Running a warehouse isn’t easy, but there are common warehouse setup mistakes that make it harder than it needs to be. Especially when things are only getting more complex. The pressure on warehouses to perform has skyrocketed due to the combination of supply chain bottlenecks, rising online sales, and the growing demand for fast shipping and delivery. 

Now some factors that stand in the way of warehouse performance are unavoidable—like consumer demand, widespread labor shortages, limited space, and the availability of inventory—whereas other challenges are more easily mitigated. This article examines the ten warehouse setup mistakes to avoid and where automation can come in to help enhance warehouse operations, increase efficiency, and minimize labor costs. 

  1. Lack of proper layout design: One of the most common warehouse mistakes in warehouse setup is a lack of proper facility layout design. This can lead to inefficient use of warehouse space, difficulties in finding items, and increased labor costs. A strong layout of the warehouse floor can pave the way to future enhancements with robotics. Automation, such as warehouse management systems, can help optimize the layout of the warehouse and improve overall efficiency. 
  2. Inadequate inventory management: One of the more common warehousing mistakes is inadequate inventory management, which can lead to stockouts, overstocking, and wasted space. Products can even expire causing issues with vendors and strain working relationships. Automation can help with this by providing real-time inventory tracking, automated replenishment, and accurate forecasting. This can also help avoid dead-stock, which is inventory that doesn’t turn over and creates wasted space. 
  3. Reliance on manual equipment: Manual equipment like forklifts require fuel, guidance, and human operators. They are dangerous pieces of machinery: it is 90% probable that a forklift will be involved in a severe or fatal accident during its working lifespan. And up to 70% of their total operating costs can be attributed to the driver. By contrast, automated mobile robots use sensory equipment and advanced navigation to take the most efficient path with nominal human intervention, while maximizing safety.  
  4. Insufficient use of technology: Many warehouses still rely on manual processes, such as paper-based inventory tracking, manual picking, or pallet moving. This can lead to errors and inefficiencies. Automation can help by introducing technology such as barcode scanning, RFID, and automated picking systems. 
  5. Lack of employee training: Without proper training, employees may not be able to properly use new technology or may not be aware of the most efficient processes. Automation can help by providing training and support for employees, as well as by streamlining processes to reduce the need for extensive training. 
  6. Poorly maintained equipment: Poorly maintained equipment can lead to breakdowns, delays, and increased labor costs. Automation can help by providing real-time monitoring of equipment, and by scheduling and tracking maintenance. 
  7. Inadequate safety measures: Poor safety practices can lead to accidents and injuries, which can result in lost productivity and increased costs. Automation can help by providing real-time monitoring of safety conditions, and by providing alerts for potential hazards. 
  8. Lack of scalability: Many warehouse setups are not designed to scale, which can lead to difficulties in meeting increased demand. Automation can help by providing flexible and scalable solutions, such as automated storage and retrieval systems, that can adapt to changing business needs. 
  9. Inadequate data analysis: Without proper data analysis, it can be difficult to identify areas of inefficiency and to make informed decisions about warehouse operations. Automation can help by providing real-time data analysis and reporting, and by providing insights into key performance indicators. 
  10. Failure to design for autonomous mobile robots: Most warehouses today are set up using traditional methods and rules of thumb around labor-focused workflows. But Robots operate at a different speeds and cadence than workers, and they have different operating needs like high-speed wireless, adequately-spaced charging bays and aisle widths, to name a few. Building a warehouse for automation first, will help future-proof an operation to be able to adopt automation solutions to key worfklows quickly. 

In conclusion, warehouse setup mistakes can lead to inefficiencies, increased costs, and difficulties in meeting demand. Automation can help by providing solutions such as warehouse management systems, automated inventory tracking, and real-time data analysis. These solutions can help optimize warehouse operations, create a more efficient warehouse, and reduce labor costs. 

Automate warehouse workflows 

Fortunately, Vecna Robotics has a wide range of material handling solutions that are tailor-made for automating key warehouse workflows right the first time. For more information about how you can get started with your finished goods automation journey, go to our From No-bot to Robot page, or can contact us today to schedule a consultation with a factory automation expert.