Canadian Plastics

Time for a Spring Cleaning

The condition of your warehouse facility is a reflection of how your firm views the quality and integrity of its product or service. Take a walk through your warehouse and what's your first impression?

June 1, 2004   By Jack Bradley, BA, CITT, P.MM



The condition of your warehouse facility is a reflection of how your firm views the quality and integrity of its product or service. Take a walk through your warehouse and what’s your first impression?

Are your valuable records retention boxes sitting up on the mezzanine risking both loss and damage? Is some of your floor space occupied with those old 3-legged chairs, damaged wooden desks or slightly dented file cabinets that you have not used or needed for 10 years (but know that you will need soon)? How about some of those old computer monitors and the original boxes they came in back in 1998?

And you know, it’s not really a good idea to use old 12-foot racking for your 26-foot high building just because someone was going to throw it out and it helps you get some of that “stuff” off the floor.

Cost Issues

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Even if you own the building you’re in there is a cost of storing any obsolete stock or materials. You need to calculate this cost and insist on only positive contributions to your facility. You have to see all space as being valuable. If you’ve got the space to store junk then maybe you’ve got too much space.

Storage and Equipment

Are you using inappropriate racks for the type of product you’re storing? Are these static rack slots, not being adjusted as your SKU mix changes or incapable of being adjusted? Are you storing products that should be in bulk storage in these racks? A common misconception is that racking is always more space – and cost-efficient than floor storage. Unless you have a properly engineered materials handling system as part of your racked storage plan, this may not be the case. Many people miss the fact that the access areas and aisles that service the racking are a required component in the equation that calculates net rack efficiency.

Is there wasted vertical space that you could be utilizing if you had the appropriate storage solutions? You need to rationalize the type of equipment required to effectively store your product based upon a proper balance of the product type/size/ characteristics and your ability to access it easily and safely when required. Reducing the time it takes to access your stored products will also enhance the life of the handling equipment you use.

When was the last time you had your racking checked for its strength? Do you know the maximum weight bearing capacity of the beams and uprights?

Housekeeping

When someone walks through your facility the first thing they’ll see is how clean it is. Clean facilities give the impression of order, safety and pride of ownership. If you have broken skids, pallets overhanging to the point of near collapse, and product stored in aisles cluttering up access, it’s a warning of larger issues than simply a messy facility.

Housekeeping isn’t reserved for when the president is rumored to be making a visit or when you have a customer coming in for a tour. It has to be part of your daily regimen. Your employees need to be trained to understand this as not only the right thing to do but see it as a large part of quality and safety.

Facilities Management

If you’re in the warehousing game either by design or by default you need to be in a constant state of continuous improvement. You will be required to keep up with technology in storage systems, lift trucks and attachments, inventory and warehouse management systems. Look at starting your improvements with low-cost bar code solutions. Plan inventory receipts to allow for manageable levels. Identify and cost all aspects of your operations to see which may not be cost effective. Look at the possibility of using outsourced alternatives.

Do you have the proper lighting in your facility to facilitate accurate inventory management, placement and order fulfillment? Does the lighting make for safe working conditions and keep electricity bills in check? Does it extend to the loading/unloading dock areas? Are you maintaining the dock area and related equipment for safety and breakdown avoidance? Are the outside areas for truck access well marked, properly maintained, and safe? If your place is the poster child of the pick-up or delivery nightmare that some truckers refer to, remember that the consequences of workplace accidents are no longer simply the temporary loss of time or equipment.

Training and Development of Staff

Invest in your staff to ensure they’re up to date with the latest trends in warehousing. Do they know how to reduce maintenance costs? Do they understand the legal requirements of workplace safety, storage of hazardous materials and lift truck certification?

Go beyond your own four walls. Go out and see other warehouses whenever you can. Bring in someone from outside your business to review your warehouse costs and processes.

And, don’t forget to keep the place clean. You’d be amazed how this effort will reward you with reduced errors and improved support from your staff and your customers.


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