Keep Your Warehouse Clean!

A cluttered warehouse can adversely affect efficiency, productivity, and profitability. (courtesy Moreska)
A cluttered warehouse can adversely affect efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
(courtesy Moreska)

Having a clean warehouse is essential. It assures efficient and safe operation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the United States Department of Labor that has jurisdiction over warehouse safety and health issues, requires it.

The source of much of the mess in a warehouse is the inventory itself and the items associated with the task of picking, packing, and shipping it. That would include pallets, boxes, shrink-wraps, and more. If there is a pile of these things in the middle of an aisle, then the tasks of doing the picking, packing, and shipping are delayed and adversely affect the productivity of the workers, the profitability of the company, and the loyalty of customers who don’t get their orders in a timely fashion.

In addition, the disorder makes it difficult, if not impossible, to check the inventory to determine what items need to be re-ordered. If the chaos ultimately causes mistakes in returning inventory to the shelves, the result can be the mixing of inventory in no logical order.

Properly organizing the chaos will clear the clutter, improve the efficiency of picking, increase productivity and improve profitability.

There are a number of things you can do to achieve this.

First, assign a worker who has some knowledge of logistics to analyze how the warehouse is running.

Second, walk through and take a visual assessment of the facility.

Third, identify problems. For example, are the aisles clear? Are returns and write-offs in their own specific location? Are pallets neatly stacked?

Fourth, once the above has been performed meet with the employee who you assigned to the project and come up with a plan that leads to the organization of the warehouse.

Make sure that you include everyone’s cooperation in the plan. Demand that employees keep the particular areas of the warehouse where they work clean and that the garbage bins are emptied regularly, As manager of the facility, you should be obligated to assure that cleaning supplies and tools are available for the task.

Take care that someone clean the floor of any dirt, water, oil, or obstructions to assure that no one will slip, fall, and possibly be injured.

Don’t limit your actions to just the interior of the building. The outdoor area around the warehouse should also be of concern. Assign employees to inspect the premises including the roads, pathways and parking area adjacent to the complex. Employees should be encouraged to discard any thrash. If the warehouse is located in a cold region of the country, then checking the area during the winter can identify damage caused by snow and ice. Areas susceptible to becoming slippery can also be identified so that you can take appropriate action. The inspection should also include the cleaning of any signs that provide directions to parts of the warehouse.

Finally, make certain that there is a safe access to and from the warehouse. Exists should be free of any clutter so that employees and others can escape should there be a fire or other emergency.

It’s just plain good business to keep a warehouse clean, but it also assures that you are in compliance with OSHA rules.