Archive for October, 2020

Posted on: October 24th, 2020 by admin No Comments

How to Prepare Your Warehouse for Winter

Whilst the logistics of running a warehouse is always a challenge, they can become even more complicated during the cold winter months. The darker, shorter days and adverse weather conditions in addition to Winter often being the busiest time of the year for many warehouses can lead to potential risks. Here we discuss how to prepare your warehouse for winter.

Monitor the temperature to protect the stock 

One of the biggest challenges for a warehouse manager is maintaining the temperature. Depending on the size of the warehouse, the temperature can vary significantly. As heat rises, it is not uncommon for the temperature at the top of the warehouse to be very different from the ground temperature. If pallet racking is being used, this must be taken into consideration, as the stock layout will have to be organised in the correct way to avoid any stock being damaged or spoiled. Installing High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) fans can help regulate the temperature. Ceiling fans can also be beneficial to drive the warmer air down.

Protect your warehouse staff 

The stock is not the only thing you need to protect. Your most important asset is your employees and you need to ensure their safety. Extremely cold weather can lead to members of staff getting ill and even suffering from frostbite or hyperthermia. Therefore, all members of staff need to be provided with a list of essential items. They need to wear heavy nonslip work gloves, insulated coats, thin layers to help ventilation, hats, and waterproof boots. This equipment will not only help them keep warm, they can help avoid any slips due to the adverse weather conditions.

Cold weather can also cause muscles and joints to tighten. Therefore staff need to stretch sufficiently before doing heavy lifting and try and avoid being stationary for long periods of time. Small measures such as stretching can help staff feel better and avoid injuries which will cause downtime and staff to potentially be absent in the future.

Protect your drivers  

It is not only employees that work within the warehouse itself that you must take extra precautions for. All your drivers must be trained and well prepared to deal with the adverse winter conditions. They should all have emergency supplies such as a snow scraper, first aid kit, blankets, food and water, an emergency phone, and a torch in case they get stuck in snow or have another emergency en route.

Protect your pallet racking  

Although pallet racking is sturdy, it is not indestructible and therefore should be repaired and inspected regularly. This is especially important just before Winter. This is often a busy time for warehouses and therefore the racking and storage systems need to be in top condition. If there is heavy snow, you should also be cautious of snow on the pallet racking as surplus weight from snow and ice could cause it to collapse if weight restrictions are exceeded.

Inspect doors and ceilings  

Another job for the Autumn is to thoroughly inspect the doors and ceilings. In the roof, check for leaks, stains, or cracks. For those warehouses with a flat roof, also inspect to see if the water is pooling and if so, ensure it can drain to avoid any roof damage or collapses. When the doors are closed, can you see any light or draft coming through? If you can, try and get these blocked up before the bad weather hits to help keep the warehouse temperature more regular whilst also ensuring no bugs or debris can enter the warehouse through gaps.

Consider installing air curtains or high-speed doors. These can regulate the temperature of the warehouse as they minimise the amount of heat that can escape.

Install skylights  

Strategically placed skylights can really benefit the warehouse. Not only does it provide natural light for employees and ensure you are not solely reliant on lighting fixtures, but they also allow the warmth from the sun to enter the warehouse. This has been shown to lower the energy costs of a warehouse during Winter. So they are perfect all year round, install them with retractable blinds to use during hot summer days.

Service forklifts and other equipment

All equipment such as forklifts should be inspected before the season starts. Any issues should be fixed to keep the equipment in the best shape. Cold temperatures can have an impact on machinery, so it needs to all be in the best condition before the cold weather arrives.

Avoid slips  

Warehouses are hectic places and involve walking in and out of the warehouse regularly. If it is raining or snowing, this can easily lead to wet floors and therefore slip hazards. It is always best to be cautious. Therefore, ensure there are mats at every door, any excess water is immediately mopped up and signs are used effectively to warn members of staff.

Be ready for shorter days  

Winter can be inconvenient to warehouses due to the loss of daylight hours. In some cases, the dark mornings and early evenings can adversely affect the loading times and operations. If this is the case, ensure a new routine and schedule are planned well in advance to avoid any delays or issues.

Winter can be an expensive and hectic time for warehouse managers. We cannot control the weather, yet there is still a lot that we do have control over. However, by taking the time to plan in advance and take the right steps, the risks and challenges can be tackled efficiently and a safer environment can be created. These actions can also significantly reduce the negative impact on your bottom line.