Case study

Is it time to organise and spring clean your warehouse?

Mar 21, 2023 | Pallet Racking

A warehouse is full of things! After all, that is its purpose! But often you may find that there are things in your warehouse that are no longer required, or indeed some things that never really needed to be there in the first place! Too much of this and you could very well end up with a messy warehouse!

You’re warehouse-keeping from a fresh perspective

For operators and managers who occupy the same warehouse daily, mess can become unobvious as they get used to working around the jumble to complete tasks and eventually, the messy warehouse becomes normalised. To anyone new to the warehouse however, the disarray would indicate a casual attitude towards staff wellbeing, health and safety, inventory and productivity. This perception is likely to reflect poorly on the business and can result in discouragement when it comes to building new customer or supplier relationships.

Only when your warehouse is clean, tidy and organised, would it pass the visitors test, so if the current state of your warehouse is a disorganised mess, you certainly have some work to do! On the upside, you’ll make encouraging progress early in the de-cluttering process and motivation will be much more forthcoming! Once you’ve experienced the positives from a cleaner and much more organised warehouse, letting those new high standards slip will no longer be an option! It’s always worth remembering that cleanliness is a practical approach to warehouse safety!

What to look out for?

There are many issues that signal disorganisation in a warehouse.  Here are a few things you’re likely to notice if your warehouse is disorganised:

Confusion

Not knowing where to put things or where to pick things from is a sure sign that inventory is jumbled rather than being organised.

If you take a look at how pickers operate, you may notice a regular retrace of steps, congestion build up in some areas and much time wastage. This is most likely due to disorganised inventory which makes it difficult to locate the goods on the picking list, and so the pickers tend to travel a lot further than necessary and into areas they don’t need to be in which can hold those areas up. Without a productive picking process profitability is likely to be compromised and an unnecessarily complicated process will most certainly frustrate your team.

What will a thorough assessment of your warehouse uncover (1)

Debris!

With stock comes packaging and with packaging comes the risk of loose debris. Examples of this include pieces of cardboard that have come away from broken boxes, or shrink wrap that may be hanging from a pallet and into the aisle space.  A warehouse littered with debris not only looks ragged but more importantly, it can cause falls, trips and collisions. Debris is hazardous, making it something you want to eliminate from your warehouse space.

Dust!

Is there gravel dust brought in from your outside yard that could be building up on the floor and in corners? Have you noticed a covering of dust on your shelves, pallets or boxes? Whilst dust gives an unclean look, there is something much more worrying about a build up of dust in the warehouse, and that’s its ability to cause potential harm to the human respiratory system, particularly where long term exposure is concerned. With employee health and safety being a priority, dust is a concern not to be ignored.

Top tip! Avoid dusty shelves by using wired mesh decking instead of solid shelving material on which dust can accumulate!

Mesh decks

Rubbish overflow!

Bins piled so high that its contents are spilling over is unsightly and can cause unpleasant odours. In addition, irregular bin emptying can be hazardous with the potential to cause trips and slips should the contents land on the floor. Another worrying concern is that rubbish accumulation will likely attract rodents, leaving you with another complex problem to deal with.

How bad is it?

If you believe it could be possible for a person to become lost inside a random maze of loose crates, boxes and pallets in your warehouse, then you could say it’s pretty bad. Having said that, any mess in your warehouse can be harmful, whether that’s to productivity, health and safety or both! But with a coordinated team effort, your warehouse will be immaculate, safe and organised in no time!

You’re cleaning plan!

Before you lift up the broom, you should first take scope of the situation so you can plan a de-clutter mission that doesn’t cause more clutter! The key is to remove dust and clutter rather than relocate it. The first thing you need to do is ensure you have adequate bin capacity, sweeping and mopping equipment, dusters and cloths, cleaning solutions as well as labour resources.

Start from the top and work your way down…..

  • Remove dust from the highest shelves, racks and boxes and work your way down so that any falling dust is cleaned when it comes to cleaning the floor later.
  • Clean dust from air vents, cooling and heating systems
  • Check the shelves for anything that shouldn’t be there.

Focus on all areas of the floor……

  • Remove any build up of debris, material and litter
  • Clear away any unused pallets
  • Empty rubbish and recycling bins
  • Complete a thorough floor sweep and clean

Create a warehouse cleaning check list

Once your big warehouse clean up operation is complete, it wouldn’t take very long for the mess to return without continuous efforts to maintain the standards, and so the essence now is to introduce a warehouse-keeping schedule detailing immediate, daily, weekly and monthly cleanliness duties.

Create your warehouse cleaning checklist!

On the go basis

  • Remove loose boxes, tape or packaging when spotted on or around the racks and aisles
  • Be sure to use recycling bins where appropriate
  • Clean any spillages or other accidental/work related mess immediately
  • Park handling equipment safely, so it doesn’t cause obstruction when not in use
  • After use, put mops, cloths, brooms, dusters and other cleaning equipment back in the cleaning equipment store room

On a daily basis

  • Check for red flags that may indicate a pest infestation such as odours, gnaw marks and droppings
  • Check for over-flowing bins and empty accordingly, and then replace the bin liners
  • Wipe down equipment and machinery
  • Check the shelves and clear them of any loose or damaged items
  • Sweep up any daily dust accumulation on floors, racks and shelves
  • Wipe down and hand rails, door handles, WCs and other staff facilities

On a weekly basis

  • Empty bins
  • Remove unused pallets
  • Go over the floor with a scrubber dryer machine
  • Thorough clean and sanitation of staff facilities

On a monthly basis

  • Dust pallet and shelving levels starting from the top
  • Check behind pallets and boxes for items obsolete items
  • Clear dust away from lighting and ventilation systems
  • Carry out a thorough floor clean, including areas behind and beneath pallets, boxes and storage structures.
  • Replace any worn down mats

How to motivate your team

Educate! Educate! Educate! In order to meet raised standards in warehouse cleanliness, you need to form a cooperative unit amongst your team. This can be challenging if the team views this as simply an increase in workload rather than a benefit to their own, and each others health, safety and wellbeing at work.  Explaining this and how a cleaner, safer warehouse will help build important relationships that will benefit the business and maintain employment will help your team see things from a broader perspective.

Understanding that by working as a team, good warehouse-keeping requires little time and effort from each individual operative. A rotor can be used to distribute cleaning tasks equally amongst the team and if each team member use the “on the go” method whenever necessary, the build up of mess can be totally avoided.

Motivate and encourage your team!

For more warehouse safety tips check out the following articles:

How to steer clear of fork lift truck incidents in your warehouse

Does your 2023 calendar include a racking inspection?

How to prevent pallet racking overload

The relevance of pallet racking accessories

A practical approach to warehouse safety

How to maintain safety between annual racking inspections

Is a mezzanine floor inspection necessary?

Secure your warehouse danger zones with wired mesh

Need more advice? Call our team on 0113 2045350 or email sales@wslmail.co.uk

 

Get started

Discuss Your Project

Our service is completely client-centric. We provide all manufacturer types, as well as fitters, engineers and inspectors; which means that not only can we deliver your entire project from start to finish, but that we can provide a fully bespoke solution for your individual needs. Get in touch to find out more.