Can we talk about the C word yet?
Whilst there seems to be some unwritten rule that the season of good cheer can’t be mentioned until Halloween has passed, for many in retail, manufacturing and other industries, Christmas preparation has already begun.
From assembling additional storage to bringing in extra staff and equipment, there are a great many different ways that you can help ease the strain on your business.
It may seem strange to discuss a time of year typically associated with coloured lights and snow, especially when we’re experiencing some of the hottest weather on record, but taking the time to put processes in place now could prevent you from falling behind when the Christmas rush really begins, and time is running out.
But Why Now?
Simply because planning ahead could save you a great deal of stress. Taking a good look at your warehouse, facility or yard and analysing which areas could be improved is a great way to start:
- Do you struggle with having enough storage space?
- Do you find your material handling equipment fulfils your needs?
- Do your walkaways get cluttered?
- Do you have maintenance work that needs carrying out?
- Could production be improved?
- Do your operatives struggle to carry out certain tasks quickly and safely?
- Do you want to expand your operations/stock range before the Christmas rush?
Whilst these are some useful questions, they certainly don’t cover all the areas you could consider. It’s also important to be realistic when it comes to making changes. For example; unless you’re able to purchase additional storage space, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to increase storage capacity by 100%. Setting realistic goals is key to figuring out a simple plan for success in the run up to Christmas.
But let’s take a look at the different areas you could focus on in more detail…
One of the easiest things you can do to prepare for Christmas (but also in general for the seasons of autumn and winter) is take stock of what maintenance your facility requires. Whether its indoors or out, having a summer ‘spring clean’ and making sure that any repair work is done could save you time and money.
Here’s a short list of things to look out for:
- Light bulbs that need replacing
- Ceilings that need cleaning and/or painting
- Floors that need resurfacing
- Damaged racking/doors etc.
- Windows/glass that needs replacing
- Any additional repair work that needs completing
- Any holes need filling in your yard
- Mounted lights/apparatus that needs securing
By taking the time to ensure that your facility is up to scratch in the summer, you’ll be ensuring that it can better withstand the cold and the wet of winter. This in turn helps to protect your employees, stock and equipment. You can even short-term hire scissor lifts to clean high ceilings and change the bulbs of suspended lights, leaving no stone untouched in your quest for a perfectly functioning facility.
Sometimes one of the best ways to find out how to improve your business, is to take a walk round your facility. Checking what routes are available for staff and equipment to use and if they are clear/quick/effective is a great place to start.
Walk the aisles, production lines and walkways, observe any obstructions; are boxes on the floor where there’s not enough storage? Do cleaning materials get left behind? Are there any visibility issues which could result in accident? Do your machines cause frequent damage to the facility? Are there shorter routes that could be created which are faster and safer?
Take note of each issue and don’t worry – there’s plenty of solutions.
Need more storage space? Consider changing up your racking configuration; adding more aisles or even raising them up a level could provide you with the space you need.
Machines too big? There’s a whole range of alternatives. Need material handling equipment, but don’t have really have enough room to manoeuvre with your counterbalance? Consider an articulated or reach truck.
Visibility problems? Mounting mirrors on the racking could help prevent your employees from wandering out into the path of a forklift, additional training could also help operators to drive safely. By ensuring walkways are clear and clearly marked, it gives both pedestrians and operators a safe space to move.
If you manufacture and/or pack and send off goods on site, do they have separate areas?
Compartmentalising your facility can be a fantastic way of optimising – manufacture can take place without ever interacting with pick and pack, who can make their way to the packing bay without getting in the way of production lines or goods in. This can also limit the amount of interaction between pedestrian and machine, as they can be kept mostly (if not completely) separate.
A Dream Team
Having the right employees makes any business work.
By having a clear chain of command and ensuring that each job role is outlined and understood, you can avoid a lot of confusion. If you don’t have one in place already, hiring a warehouse manager can be a fantastic way of helping your team grow and develop.
For many businesses which sell goods to wholesalers, August through to October can be a very, very busy time, with a great many deliveries coming and going from the premises. Hiring in extra staff during these peak times can be a fantastic way of dealing with the additional strain. However, many companies can be, understandably, unsure about bringing in employees who don’t have the training to work in their facility.
One remedy is to have them quickly trained by a member of staff and then put to work. But what about the rest of the team? Over the course of a year, bad habits can develop and unsafe behaviour.
Why not consider a group training session? This can help get your new staff up to speed and also enforce safe behaviours and provide extra experience for your regular employees.
Refresher training can range from equipment courses (such as counterbalance and access) to manual handling and first aid. Get your whole team up to speed and on the mark and you can’t go wrong.
Peak season for any business is manic (no matter how organised you are). Day to day tasks can become cumbersome and occasionally be put aside all together in favour of getting all the new, excess work done. One of the areas that this can particularly affect is cleaning.
Whilst we’re in summer, we don’t particularly have to worry about rain (apart from occasional showers). However, autumn and winter are a different story and definitely worth preparing for.
With the cold, wet weather, there’s a high chance that cleaning could become an endless and thankless job – especially if your facility requires a doors open approach and you have equipment frequently coming in from and going out to a yard.
Having a member of your team on stand by with a mop, bucket and broom is one remedy, but another could be hiring in cleaning equipment for the autumn and winter months. Pedestrian and ride along scrubber driers and sweepers can make quick work of a typically arduous task, improving cleanliness and safety along the way.
If you use outdoor equipment then the winter months can be very unforgiving. High winds and wet weather can inhibit the use of scissor lifts and open forklifts can leave operators exposed to the elements. To help keep your employees safe, consider hiring in forklifts that have enclosed cabs. These not only keep your operators dry and protected, but can also include heating, to keep fingers and toes toasty whilst at work in the rain.
It’s also important to make sure that your operatives have the correct protection from their clothing;
- Waterproof safety boots
- Waterproof, windproof, high visibility outerwear
- Thermal layers
- Gloves, hats etc.
It could also be worth your time looking at the assortment of attachments that are available for forklifts. During peak season, scoops and buckets can be used to keep your yard clean and tidy, whilst in the colder month, ploughs and gritters can be used to keep your safe accessible and safe.
These are just a handful of ways that you can prepare your facility for peak season and the Christmas rush. Whilst it can seem strange considering autumn and winter whilst the sun is bearing down, planning ahead could save you plenty of time, money and stress throughout peak season and when season of festive cheer finally comes around.
If you’d like to find out more about hiring any of the equipment mentioned, booking training for your team or need help optimising your warehouse or facility, why not give us a call? You can reach us on 01933 228127, by emailing [email protected] or by visiting our contact us page.