What do the holidays mean to your warehouse or distribution center? Do you increase product inventory to fulfill big holiday orders, or are you shipping out as much as you can to lower year-end inventory levels?
This is the time of year where warehouse activity increases exponentially. In fact, some companies do approximately 50% of their business at the end of the year. This surge could lead to chaos, but there are actions you can take to be well prepared.
5 tips to prepare a warehouse for the holiday season
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that warehouses are full and shopping is underway. If your facility experiences year-end increases, it’s important to prepare and organize your inventory management plan to accommodate the surge.
1. Improve warehouse layout
Review the layout for each area to ensure your facility is ready for the increase in traffic. Focal points to consider are improving organization, flow, storage capacity, and space utilization.
To prepare: Systems such as telematics can assist you in identifying operator and forklift utilization, traffic flow, and where impacts are most likely to occur.
2. Look at warehouse space requirements
Inventories can increase up to 40% during the holiday season, and products often arrive weeks or months before it will sell. Take warehouse space into consideration and determine if traffic patterns will change due to the increase of products. Will forklifts be restricted due to aisle spacing or rack positions? Or will you need to redirect pedestrian walkways and stop zones?
To prepare: Use telematics’ advanced location functionality to increase safety during this time. This telematics tool leverages geofencing, which will allow you to reposition pedestrian walkways and stop zones, as well as restrict larger forklifts from areas where product may prevent their ability to maneuver appropriately.
3. Analyze warehouse order projections
Holiday-driven businesses tend to receive as many as 50% of their orders in the fourth quarter, and most are in the last 30 days of the year.
To prepare: Review past years’ sales reports and the latest order flow projections from your sales and marketing team.
4. Increase warehouse staffing where needed
What is your staffing plan if orders are significantly greater or smaller than planned? Do you have enough forklifts to accommodate an increase in operators?
To prepare: Use telematic operator- and forklift-utilization reports to determine if current operators and forklifts are being utilized to full capacity. These reports contain valuable data, factoring in total activity, actual travel with load times, and pallets moved per hour.
5. Stay on top of maintenance
The ability to handle the increased activity in your facility and fulfilling orders is based on equipment working properly.
To prepare: Continuously check lift equipment, power conveyers, backup power supplies, scanners, order printers, and company vehicles. Telematic maintenance report cards provide insight, like when forklift maintenance was preformed and any issues found during safety checklists.
Production demands may accelerate during this busy season, and preparation will be crucial to success. Telematic monitoring and insight can help you keep productivity, efficiency, and safety in perfect balance.