Preventing overcrowding in the warehouse environment is an on-going struggle for most warehouse managers. Our warehouse consultants are contacted by warehouses all across the United States every day who are seeking solutions to their overcrowding issues. It’s a common problem in the warehouse and one that causes all too many accidents each year. Overcrowding in the warehouse can lead to a variety of safety issues, such as:
- Overloaded pallet racking. This can lead to racking collapse, which can cause damage to your inventory, downtime in your warehouse, and could even lead to injuries or worse for your workers.
- Not enough floor space. Warehouses need to make the most out of every square foot of space, but that doesn’t mean you can use all of it for storage. Crowding on the floor can lead to more injuries and accidents from tripping hazards and line of sight issues.
- More forklift accidents. When overcrowding begins to happen in a warehouse, there often isn’t enough room to safely maneuver a forklift. That means more accidents with workers as well as damage to your pallet racking.
- Lost time and slow production. When accidents are frequent, stock is hard to get to, and forklifts can’t be used, it’s going to slow down your warehouse operations. Slowly productivity is a major hit to your bottom line.
That’s just the beginning of the issues you could be facing with overcrowding. So what can you do to prevent it or rectify it in your warehouse? Our warehouse consultants have some suggestions.
- Create a smooth flow: Ironing out how orders come into your warehouse, how they are picked, and how they go out the door can create a smoother order flow through your warehouse. This can increase productivity, sure, but it can help your congestion, too. By carefully planning out each area, you may be able to scale down some areas (picking) while scaling up other areas (receiving) that need it more.
- Keep some locations open and available: It’s not easy to do and you won’t be able to do it 100% of the time. However, if you can manage to keep 10% of your storage open, you’ll have a lot more wiggle room when big orders come in or you have a major push, for instance around the holidays. Think about how much more storage you’d need in order to achieve having 10% of it free, then look for solutions that help you achieve that. That might include putting in a mezzanine or changing the kind of storage racking you use.
- Slot your most-ordered items: Slotting your most frequently ordered items can help your pickers move orders out the door a lot faster. You’ll also know what items should be getting the most time, attention, and space in your warehouse. That leaves you with the items that aren’t big sellers; you may want to scale down inventory on those items to start relieving some overcrowding issues.
- Rethink your warehouse layout: Warehouses shouldn’t evolve naturally over time. They need to be carefully planned so you get the most out of every inch of space that you have. That might require you to occasionally rethink your warehouse layout or revisit it in order to optimize it. Working with experienced warehouse consultants on this task can help you get the most out of it.
- Get the right storage: If overcrowding is a consistent issue in your warehouse, the fault may lie with the kind of storage you are using. It might be worth looking at other racking systems to see if they can offer you more compact, higher-density storage solutions than the ones that you are currently using. The DAK Equipment & Engineering team can help you make the right storage racking choice.