Many people are expressing or have expressed their concerns in some countries who are looking to reopen their economy after weathering the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these people are those whose jobs are in places that house a huge workforce, such as warehouses. They are concerned about putting themselves at risk of getting infected by the coronavirus in their workplaces, if minimum health requirements such as social distancing are not met.
Adapting to the “new normal” means businesses must still comply with preventive measures such as regularly disinfecting their place of work and maintaining the safe distance between employees. If you’re a warehouse manager with a large workforce, then that is certainly a problem.
The good news is that your warehouse management system (WMS) can help you address this concern. If you have yet to put in place a WMS in your facility, then you can read in this article about how implementing one can help in observing social distancing measures and give your warehouse staff peace of mind.
One strategy that a warehouse that uses a WMS can adopt is to introduce zone picking. Zone picking is supported by the WMS and it keeps operatives safer because it introduces a set structure in the areas where a particular employee works. Instead of having your warehouse staff travel around the entire warehouse to pick orders, they will be assigned to work within certain locations only.
If your staff stays confined in specific areas, they are automatically practicing social distancing while also remaining efficient. In fact, their efficiency might even increase since the time they spend in picking is reduced to less than usual. Not only did you meet the required minimum health requirement, you also maintained the efficiency that your operations requires, something that a commercial real estate consulting company site such as lscr.com would also want for their clients.
Once orders are picked from their designated locations, they can be transferred to a central marshaling area for consolidation. Organize a well-spaced line of operatives along a marshaling line or expand the number of marshaling areas, so you can still maintain social distancing rules. The stock items can then be sorted into individual orders and then sent off for dispatch.
There are also other technologies you can integrate with your WMS that can support a safer warehouse environment while also providing the required throughput efficiency to meet your customer’s demand such as voice picking. Voice picking allows your workers to pick stock without using their hands within a designated zone.
This minimizes the contact between picks and also reduces the time it takes to pick orders. Since your staff will also be using their own headsets and share the processing devices, safety is even more improved. You can have the processors sanitize in between shifts where there is no risk of equipment spreading the coronavirus.
Implementing a warehouse management system in your facility will help you address your employee’s concerns about their health while operating amidst the “new normal.” With a WMS, you can successfully adapt with the new standards of operations while maintaining the efficiency that you require to satisfy customer demands in the current business climate.
By Angelo Castelda
The author works as a contributor for a news magazine in Asia. On his free days, he likes to read books about the logistics industry and warehouse management. He also gets frequently invited to schools and universities to hold talks about the supply chain system and warehouse operations.