Warehouse management teams know the holidays are a time of joy and challenges. Your employees will deal with a spike in orders and a crunched deadline, so what can you do to prepare for the holiday season? Try these tips to keep things orderly and under control, even while global supply chain issues remain a challenge.
1. Add Additional Inventory Storage
Consumer demand for goods spiked after 2020, leading to supply shortages that still delay deliveries. Other factors currently affect the global supply chain, too, like worker strikes and congested cargo ports. Warehouse managers can purchase more products earlier and store them to avoid delays that result in unhappy customers. Try ordering goods or supplies eight to 12 weeks before the holidays begin and gauge how much you’ll need to ship based on last year’s holiday sales records.
2. Consider Hiring Seasonal Workers
Employees in every industry feel burnt out when working overtime in a high-stress season. Seasonal workers can supplement your full-time staff to help them remain productive by supporting their mental health. They might work shorter shifts and have fewer days on the clock, but every extra set of helping hands makes full-time workers appreciate their professional environment. Some temporary employees may transition to full-time positions after the holidays end, doubling the investment of paying to train them. It’s worth considering if your team is already dealing with post-pandemic shortages.
3. Get Necessary Extra Warehouse Equipment
Expanded storage space and additional staff will function more efficiently with extra equipment. Consider purchasing or renting more machinery — like used forklifts — to save money while meeting your warehouse’s needs. All your team needs to do is check the odometer readings, lift chains and engines for wear and tear before the machinery can help your warehouse safely shift into maximum production.
4. Rearrange Warehouse Operations
Consider if your warehouse layout is optimal for rushed operations. Will there be enough room for an expanded group of employees to work safely and productively? Rearranging operational stations may help keep things timely. Workers could have less space to walk when picking products and taking them to shipping or packaging stations. If you decide to take this helpful step, don’t forget to add signage so everyone knows where to go for their work. The signs will also create traffic zones to keep people from bumping into each other.
5. Schedule Preventative Maintenance
Warehouse machinery operates nearly every day, if not every hour of the day. It’s best to schedule preventative maintenance before and during the holidays. The machines will operate at peak productivity if minor issues don’t slip by. Checking things like conveyor belts and forklift engines will prevent potential breakdowns that disrupt or stop holiday production.
6. Incorporate Cloud-Based Management Software
The last thing anyone wants to deal with during the holiday season is technical problems that slow operations down. Keep up with production and shipping more effectively with cloud-based management software. Even if warehouse computers break down, your team can keep things on track via cloud backups. All you need to do is compare available software programs and train your team before implementing a program that ensures a better holiday season.
7. Assign a Spot for Problem Orders
Even if everyone tries their best, problem orders still happen. Someone could misplace part of an order and not realize it before it reaches the shipping team. When someone spots an order with an issue, they should know where to place it for inspections and corrections. Assign one location for these orders and place signage indicating the spot’s purpose. Reviews and corrections can happen faster, avoiding an excessive warehouse backlog that keeps people working overtime.
8. Remember the Returns Process
Returns always follow the holiday seasons, so it’s best to prepare for them now. Anyone handling returns should be ready to manage the increased processing and shipments. Train additional team members so they’re ready to go and prepare a sectioned-off warehouse area for their work. Team members and customers are much happier when returns get as much thought as day-to-day operations.
Prepare Your Warehouse Early
It’s never too early for warehouse managers to prepare for the holiday season. This year, consider taking these steps to make your team as efficient as possible. Preventive maintenance, rearranging and training will optimize your warehouse to best support everyone involved with your business.
About the author:
Rose Morrison is a construction writer with a passion for sustainable building and innovative construction technologies. She is the managing editor of Renovated and regularly contributes to a number of reputable sites, such as NCCER, The Safety Mag, and Geospatial World. For more from Rose, you can follow her on Twitter.