Take a moment to think about the idea of warehousing, sounds simple, right? The only tasks those people have to do is ship and receive containers! How hard can that be? I mean, shipments come in, the workers put it somewhere in the intense building they work in, and then it ever gets sent out to some other destination when need be. It really can not be THAT difficult to manage and conduct a business like that.
But that is just the thing – it really is that hard. There is so much more to the concept of warehousing than many could even begin to comprehend. Sure, shipping and receiving is a simple process (for the most part, if you are lucky), but everything in between that process is where it gets tricky.
If you know someone that works or deals with warehousing, the word "inventory" probably makes him or her her cringe. That is a job literally no one wants to deal with because most of the time, it is completely inaccurate and fixing it is a huge problem. Just imagine having thousands of products on pallets and having to count them to make sure the correct number is there. Even missing one can screw up orders big time. Oh, and do not forget you have to make sure the product is a specific type. For instance, my family deals with chemicals, powders, and other materials in our warehouse. However, the manufacturer of, let's say a powder, has many different variants of just ONE type of powder. And let's not forget that sometimes these products come shipped intermixed on the same pallet which makes it that much more confusing and difficult to verify. This does not even include the fact that in many circumstances, the products are not in their correct area in the warehouse. Often, it becomes like a massive manhunt for products because they tend to get misplaced when large quantities of pallets are shipped in and you are forced to take the nearest available space to put a pallet. Essentially, the pallet is forgotten and left lost in the middle of various products.
You are probably thinking that I am over exaggerating those types of problems, but in all reality, that happens on a weekly basis when dealing with inventory. We are not perfect, nor are any other warehousing companies, but there are solutions out there that minimize the stress and weaknesses that tend to happen. For one, computers are our lifesavers. When we are unsure about what has come and gone from our floors, guess who is there to back us up – computers! They allow us to double check to make sure the correct items were shipped and even received. Another solution we have discovered is keeping the inventory alphabetically and normally in order on the floor. As you can imagine, this saves us an incentive amount of time when looking for specific types of products that are through the warehouse. In reality, however, some items are more popular and are sent out more often. These select items are the ones we place closest to the industrial elevator to save time retrieving them on a forklift. As they all say, time is money! Even something as simple as writing the products and their codes on the packages or pallets saves a great deal of time when trying to find products in a hurry. Also, instead of waiting each month to check inventory, we have found that it is much more efficient to do it every couple weeks. This way, it is easier to figure out where we went wrong and track what happened to the missing products. Again, computers help us do this because it allows us to keep count of products and materials on a spreadsheet that can be edited and changed in order to adjust to new quantities.
As you could probably assume, keeping track of inventory is most certainly not the only thing that warehousing facilities face. Many times, small warehousing companies are limited when it comes to storage. Not all warehouses have over a million square feet, as I am sure you are imagining. This is where we have to get creative when it comes to creating space for thousands of new items that will ever need space along with the products being stored at the present moment. The most beneficial solution that our company has invested in is shelving. Some materials, such as drums, can not be stacked on top of one another like bags of powders can or even cartons. With shelving in various sections of the warehouse, we are able to create space upwards rather than across a wide span of floor. In order to do this, not only do you need shelving, but also a forklift. This type of equipment is essential to running a warehousing facility. And not to mention, it can not just be any type of forklift either. Your equipment has to be reliable in order to ensure that you will be able to complete the orders and move the items from high shelving without difficulty. Customers are not expecting to hear that you can not ship out any of their products that they need until your forklift is back up and running. As we all know, everything can not be fixed easily nowdays. The solution to this is not only having a reliable forklift, but also to have a backup. This provides a safeguard to the company to know that even if one machine quits, they will still be able to manage and conduct their daily business.
So, think about the idea of warehousing again. Does not seem as simple as shipping and receiving materials, right? From having deprances with the inventory, having organizational mishaps, to having storage and equipment issues, running a warehouse can be a complex task at times. There are countless issues that these businesses face on a daily basis, but thankfully there are solutions to overcome them. For small business warehouses, following these different solutions for these types of problems is essential to ensure that their business is competitive and smooth running.