Communication Optimization in a Warehouse
Updated: Oct 30
When it comes to building any productive workplace, communication is a crucial aspect. In a warehouse environment, there are many moving pieces and it can become difficult to keep track of it all. Optimizing communication is essential for improving efficiency, reducing mistakes, and ensuring the safety of your workers. The day-to-day of a warehouse can become hectic and busy rather quickly, and if employees are not notified promptly about the daily schedule, e-commerce orders, inbound and outbound trucks, etc. then operations become prone to error resulting in things falling behind. When communication is transparent and flows well to all employees, operations become more streamlined and create a positive experience for everyone. Here are some ways to improve communication for your warehouse or 3PL:
Using Phones, Tablets, or Radio:
With the technology we have readily available today, everyone should have access to a communication channel. Everyone should have a phone with messaging apps or email in order to be notified about daily tasks. Tablets are another great alternative for communication apps to be installed on, while also being useable for other warehouse tasks such as scanning in inventory. There are many work-related communication apps that can be downloaded on smartphones or tablets, such as Slack. This is an easy way to quickly send notifications to everyone on the floor, such as “Inbound truck is going to Dock 10” or “E-commerce order 1031 needs to be prioritized.”
Another option that is still used in some warehouses today is the two-way radio (or walkie-talkie). This durable option is great for heavy-duty warehouse operations. For example, if someone drops a walkie-talkie on a warehouse floor, it has a greater chance of surviving impact as opposed to a smartphone with a fragile screen. While smartphones are definitely the more contemporary choice, two-way radios can become a more reliable option for direct communication. They result in faster communication because you do not have to deal with dialing and waiting, or for a text to be sent. Cell phone network coverage can be finicky at times, and messages or calls can be slow or not go through to the other person at all. Two-way radios are not impacted by this. Not to mention that in an emergency situation, you want to guarantee direct communication, so the walkie-talkie is a safe bet.
Using Wearable Technology:
While phones and radios can be put in a pocket or on a belt clip, having a communication tool that is secure and readily available is another way to streamline communication. A smartwatch is a great piece of technology that can give quick alerts to everyone in the warehouse while being quickly accessible. A message comes through, and employees simply look at their wrist and are quickly informed. In a warehouse environment, with all the movements such as handling of boxes or forklift driving, having a safely secured device on the wrist is beneficial, not to mention safer.
Utilizing a PA System:
An efficient way for supervisors and managers to communicate with everyone on the warehouse floor at the same time is by implementing a PA system for your 3PL. If there is an announcement that needs to be made to all workers, and everyone is scattered in different locations of the warehouse, the PA system is effective at mass communicating a message. This is also an effective mode of communication in emergency situations, should they arise. Using a PA system requires a clear chain of command, and should be reserved for managers and supervisors who want to deliver key messages en masse. If you use the PA system for every message, then you run the risk of employees tuning it out.
Having a Clear Chain of Command:
In any work environment, including in a warehouse or 3PL, having a clear chain of command is paramount. When employees are confident in who reports to whom, then it's clearer to them who to suggest ideas, ask questions, or discuss potential issues with. Face to face is a great way to establish communication with everyone and make operations flow smoothly. Warehouse jobs can be stressful at times, so having a supervisor that they are comfortable in communicating with face to face is very important. The manager or supervisor should also try to implement a meeting each morning with all employees to go over the schedule for the day, reiterate the company's standard operating procedures, or simply address any questions or concerns.
Optimizing communication using these techniques will bring benefits to your warehouse or 3PL operation, such as:
Improved Productivity: when communication is optimized, everyone is on the same page and aware of what tasks need to be prioritized. Information is shared promptly, which minimizes downtime and enhances productivity.
Reduced Chance of Errors: Communication being optimized ensures that instructions are conveyed clearly, accurately, and promptly. Having this allows employees to make well-informed decisions on tasks while maintaining consistency and reducing errors.
Enhanced Safety: When using one of the communication tools listed above, employees can notify others quickly about potential dangers or hazards that have appeared in the facility. This helps prevent accidents and injuries from occurring.
Smoother Collaboration Between Teams: transparent communication and real-time updates between teams make collaboration in the workplace a seamless process. It creates an atmosphere where employees in different departments can better cooperate with addressing challenges and exchanging feedback quickly.
Greater Morale in the Workplace: Improved communication keeps everyone in the loop, which can help reduce stress levels. Having transparent dialogue between supervisors and employees can help foster an environment of belonging and purpose in the workplace, which makes people more content and motivated.
Happier Clients: When communication in the warehouse is accurate and timely, orders get out on time and errors are minimized. This ultimately leads to increased client satisfaction and loyalty. As a result of this, client retention increases, and could lead to referrals or positive reviews/testimonials for your website.
If you are looking for a warehouse provider that has optimized communication and collaboration, then look no further than Supply Chain Warehouses. We have professional contracted warehousing services available for your fulfillment and logistics needs. Our team is here to simplify the supply chain management process, allowing you to focus on the growth and scalability of your business. Reach out to an SCW expert today to discuss your specific third-party logistics needs, and we will come up with a tailored solution for your business.