If you manufacture or sell products, the importance of your warehouse to the health of your business cannot be overestimated. If your warehouse is running as it should, order fulfilment is simple and effective, and you are thus more likely to retain customers and – ultimately – generate revenue. If your warehouse isn’t performing well, then the opposite is true, and your business will struggle as a result.
If you have found that your warehouse isn’t quite functioning as it should, you will first need to identify the core source of the issue, and then find the right solution. Here are a few of the most common problems warehouse owners experience, as well as the solutions that could be just what you need to get back on track…
THE PROBLEM: Difficulty finding items
The need to quickly and efficiently find stored items is integral to the function of any warehouse, but is also perhaps the most difficult to achieve. If you and your employees are spending too long locating items, then productivity will inevitably drop, and your business’ overall efficiency will be greatly impacted as a result.
THE SOLUTION: Chaotic storage
Chaotic storage involves no shelf organisation at all; instead, items are deposited wherever there is space, with shelf barcodes allowing a database to track the location of every item at all times. When you need to find a particular item, you can access the database record for that item, and you’ll be directed to the correct shelf.
Chaotic storage may sound like a nightmare, but the system – which is used by giants such as Amazon – really does work, so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re looking for a new approach.
THE PROBLEM: Birds in the ceiling
No matter how ornithologically-inclined you may be, birds – such as pigeons or crows – flying around, and potentially roosting in, your warehouse ceiling is never a welcome sight. As bird droppings can be hazardous to health, you’ll need to rectify any bird infestations as soon as possible.
THE SOLUTION: Removal, then prevention
First and foremost, you’ll need to call a pest control expert to safely remove any birds from your warehouse. When the ceiling area is clear, you can then look to install products such as bird netting in order to humanely prevent such an infestation developing in future. Furthermore, it’s also helpful to encourage all employees to ensure that the main warehouse doors – as well as any windows – are kept closed at all times, in order to prevent birds from flying inside.
THE PROBLEM: Lack of storage space
This problem is very simple: too many items, and not enough space to store them. While this issue can somewhat be prevented through effective inventory management, if your business is expanding, there is likely to be a point where even the most streamlined, well-managed storage is no longer sufficient for your needs.
THE SOLUTION: Change the way you use your existing space
If you are running short of space in your warehouse, then the most obvious solution is simply to look up. Many warehouse designs tend to leave significant space between the top of the shelves and the ceiling of the building, which results in a large swathe of space that is going unused. By accessing this space, you can greatly increase your storage capacity without the need to move to a larger warehouse, so it’s well worth considering. You’ll need to work with health and safety experts in order to ascertain how much of the spare vertical space you can use, and you will almost certainly need to invest in a telescopic boom lift or scissor lift, but such measures are well worth exploring if at all possible.
If there is no vertical space available in your warehouse, then it’s usually best to thoroughly declutter and reduce the amount of waste your warehouse generates; if these measures still don’t produce enough space, then it may be time to consider moving to a larger warehouse.
THE PROBLEM: New employees continually getting lost
While new employees can be informed that they need to head to – for example – shelf 1A to collect an item, actually knowing where shelf 1A is located within the warehouse can take days if not weeks to learn. The same applies to the location of the staff room and bathroom facilities; new employees know these areas must be contained within the warehouse somewhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can find them within the cavernous space.
THE SOLUTION: Signage and maps
A simple solution, but one that is sure to work: ensure that your warehouse is fully signposted, so new employees can quickly work out where they need to be at any given moment. Furthermore, it’s also useful to provide every new employee with an aerial map of the layout prior to their first shift; this map should detail entrances, exits, shelf numbers, the location of the bathroom, and so on, so they can familiarise themselves with the layout prior to their first shift.
THE PROBLEM: Damp
If you notice signs of damp – such as cracks in the walls, peeling plaster, “musty” smells, or mould growth – in your warehouse, then your warehouse is in danger of becoming hazardous; damp can impact the structural integrity of your warehouse if left untreated, and the resultant mould can cause a number of health concerns for you and your employees.
THE SOLUTION: Improve ventilation, then seek expert advice
Dehumidifiers may seem like the natural solution to damp issues but, ultimately, they are treating the symptom rather than the root cause of the problem.
The first step to truly overcoming a damp problem is to look to improve the ventilation in your warehouse, potentially by installing a new ventilation system entirely. Inadequate ventilation is the cause of the vast majority of damp-related problems, so this measure alone may suffice. However, if you subsequently discover that your warehouse still has a damp problem, even with a new ventilation system, then the only option left is to contact a professional for a full survey and further advice.
Hopefully, the solutions presented above will help to ensure your warehouse is always able to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible in future.