What a crazy time right now! Coronavirus, social distancing, N95 masks and epidemiology – all words that for me, had little value just a few short months ago. So, have we gotten to our “new normal” yet? Personally, I think we are still in somewhat of a transitional period, figuring out what that new norm is. Many of us, myself included, are thinking of how best to prepare for the future.
Now, under normal circumstances, I suspect if business were slow, that would be reflected in the number of hours your staff is working; but these aren’t normal times, are they? The government has thrown a lifeline to many small and medium sized business through the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). This has some business owners in a precarious position of having staff on the clock with a less than normal workload. Here are a few ideas on how to keep your staff productive on a budget, while positioning your company to take on the new challenges of tomorrow.
Create a Floor Cleaning Plan
Damage to wheels are a large cost driver when it comes to forklift upkeep. It creates a need for otherwise unnecessary maintenance, and over time, can cause additional wear and tear on other components. I see in warehouses all the time debris from broken pallets spread throughout, which can inhibit safe operation. By implementing a vigorous floor cleaning plan, you’re not only minimizing downtime today, you’re helping tomorrow to be more efficient, productive and profitable.
Are your operators all up to date with their safety training? Have you added new equipment recently which the staff may need to be certified on? “OSHA requires that operators of powered industrial trucks be trained in the operation of such vehicles before they are allowed to operate them independently. The training must consist of instruction (both classroom-type and practical training) in proper vehicle operation, the hazards of operating the vehicle in the workplace, and the requirements of the OSHA standard for powered industrial trucks. Operators who have completed training must then be evaluated while they operate the vehicle in the workplace. Operators must also be periodically evaluated (at least once every three years) to ensure that their skills remain at a high level and must receive refresher training whenever there is a demonstrated need.”
This is a perfect opportunity to reevaluate your operators and re-certify them for when business picks up. Furthermore, taking this time to train your operators is the perfect opportunity to break bad habits and get your team all on the same page. Whether that means outsourcing your training to industry experts like Abel Womack, or refreshing your own training program, keep your operators qualified and their certifications up to date.
Plan Efficient Locations Throughout the Warehouse (Warehouse Slotting)
When designing a warehouse, slotting identifies your products’ velocity, dimensions (cube size), weights, product groupings, and more – creating a plan to identify the most effective way to layout a warehouse. The purpose of this is to keep your fastest moving items closer, making both picking and replenishment quicker and more efficient. You arrange your SKU’s based on frequency of use. The fastest moving SKU’s should be closer and on lower levels in relation to the working or shipping area. The slower moving SKU’s can take up the spaces in the back and on the higher rack locations.
It’s also important to remember that a well-planned warehouse can get “sloppy” quite quickly, so ensure that the design is managed and maintained. A WMS (Warehouse Management Software System) can help with this and pricing has really started to come down significantly in the past few years! A WMS is no longer just for the biggest companies.
Prepare to Keep Employees Safe in the New Normal
The CDC states people should keep 6 feet in between, person to person. You may want to consider putting stickers on the ground promoting social distancing. Move workstations a bit further away when possible. Another option when social distancing is not possible, install plexiglass barriers or curtains between workstations. There are many ways to promote social distancing and for the near future, this is going to be critical.
Repair Damaged Rack
There is no better time to fix damaged rack then when the traffic is low, and the disruption is minimal. Damaged racking can cause harm to products and more importantly, people. Failure to maintain racking can result in additional costly maintenance and downtime down the road, which could have been avoided. Whether it’s a damaged upright or a beam missing the safety clip, now is the best time to identify the potential weak points in your operation. Work with a warehouse specialist to uncover areas of improvements in your operational safety. Whether that means making small operational changes to minimize risk for impacts, or replacing damaged racking, you can count on Abel Womack to provide the equipment, experience and expertise you need.
We are all looking forward to coming out of this pandemic as soon as possible. Employees are going to want to see employers looking out for their safety. Whether that’s additional training, repairing rack damage, implementing and using tools for social distancing, or slotting your warehouse to be better positioned for future growth, Abel Womack has your back!
We will all get through this together… Be safe!