3 Surprising Warehouse Management Facts

Meagan Douglas
Wed, Jul 10, 2013

 

Proper warehouse management is critical to continued profitability for many businesses, but too often companies do not account for the unforeseen variables that can impact warehouse logistics. In particular, organizations that fail to take these three facts into consideration are likely running inefficient operations that could be significantly limiting revenue.

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1. Reusable Packaging is Best

By using greener packaging instead of disposable containers, companies can more effectively ship, store and protect their inventory. A study from Germany-based Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg in particular looked at how packaging affects fruit and vegetable shipments, finding that 4 percent of all produce shipped in disposable containers sustained damage while on route to consumers. In contrast, 0.1 percent of all fruit and vegetables shipped in reusable packaging was damaged in transit.

According to researchers, these findings could yield enormous cost savings for businesses. If food was only shipped in disposable packaging, firms would incur €68 million in losses each year, which roughly equates to more than $87 million. However, the exclusive use of reusable containers would lead to €2 million, which is equal to approximately $2.57 million.

2. Temperature Matters

Warehouses that store items such as produce and medical supplies need to keep facilities cool in order to maintain the integrity of goods. However, all warehouse managers may want to keep buildings cool in the summer regardless of what is being stored.

In a recent article in the Union-Bulletin, human resources professional Virginia Detweiler wrote that warehouse employees will be far more efficient during warmer months when the temperature of their surroundings is taken into consideration. For example, one Southwestern U.S. facility was able to dramatically boost the efficacy of its warehouse operations by shortening the amount of time staff spent outside and by allowing workers to clock in earlier in the day, before the sun fully rose.

"There are many people who think they are tough, 'I can handle it,'" Detweiler wrote. "And there are many business managers who think employee discomfort isn't something they should have to think about. That's a mistake for both the employee and the business. When it's hot, productivity and profits can drop."

3. Manual Processes are Costlier than Expected

In many warehouses, manual tasks reign supreme because the warehouse has never used automated data collection and may not think it is necessary. Although facilities can get by using only manual workflows, not effectively utilizing automated data collection can lead to lost revenue.

Take invoice processing for example. According to Business Finance contributor Ted Ardelean, a typical enterprise will spend $20 manually processing an invoice. In comparison, automated invoice processing costs around $4. Considering that pickers spend 20 percent of their time dealing with paperwork and other related activities, warehouse manager Omar Youssef noted that automation can lead to significant short-term and long-term savings.

"Automation can be used to change supplier behavior and standardize invoice data while simultaneously improving the invoice process workflow," Ardelean wrote.

Of course, this is just one of the many ways that automated data collection and similar technology can yield multitudinous benefits for warehouses.

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