Ah, the holidays. The time when families come together, tons of food gets prepared on tables across the country, and the shipping industry gets hit with a massive rush of business.
With Christmas just around the corner, people are already ordering gifts for one another. And thanks to the wonders of e-commerce, a majority of the shopping is done online.
This means that warehouses all over the country light up with shipments that need to get fulfilled. Since the majority of these are either gifts or last minutes orders that are being placed before certain companies close up shop for the holidays, they need to get shipped out ASAP.
Needless to say, this is a very busy, and very stressful time for all involved.
So, we figured what better time to remind you of a few simple steps that can be taken to take some of the edges off this time of the year.
One of the very first things you should do a few weeks ahead of the holiday rush is perform a full test of your normal operating procedures. You will want to do this from start to finish.
From receiving to loading and everything in-between, you need to put it through the wringer. When it is happening in a real-life scenario it can all fall apart if your warehouse simply isn’t ready for the shipping rush the holidays generally bring with them.
While all of the roles being fulfilled in your warehouse are important to monitor and modify where needed, there are a couple of areas that need some special attention paid to them.
Let’s take a look at what these 2 main areas consist of…
The hardware in your warehouse consists mainly of heavy machinery such as forklifts, drum handling equipment, jib cranes, etc…
These pieces of equipment are a large part of what keeps your warehouse functioning. Even the best crane operators in the world cannot make up for every small problem that their crane may have. And if these machines stop moving, so does a lot of your freight.
Hire an engineer or mechanic (if you don’t already have one on the staff) to check out all of your heavy machinery about a week before the first big rush is scheduled to hit you. To figure out when you need to do this for your warehouse specifically, you will need to refer to some of the KPI data that you’ve collected over the past few years. This is something we will talk about toward the end of this article.
Paying attention to your hardware is a must, but don’t forget about your software.
Behind every good inventory management system is an even better computer program powering it.
Seriously, keeping a well-maintained inventory log is no easy task. There is a lot of math and organization involved and there is way too many real-time tracking issues to be effective for large-scale operations if it is performed completely manually. That’s why we let computer algorithms handle all of that.
But just like heavy machinery, our computer systems can, and do from time to time, crash for one reason or another. And when it happens, it can be so severe that warehouse operations may have to cease for a period of time.
Being able to fulfill orders in a timely and efficient manner is what the logistics industry is all about. Your hardware and software systems are only going to get you so far, however.
All of those tools are being operated and maintained by your warehouse employees. And during a large holiday rush such as when customers are making orders in the month or so leading up to Christmas, they need to be prepared for what all that entails.
This means dealing with a volume of shipments that might even double the usual workload that your staff is used to performing in a standard day. To account for this increased workload, they may need to approach things just a bit differently.
Analyze each of these roles and determine if there is a way that you can optimize their tasks to suit a heavier workload and then delegate these new procedures to their respective roles.
Lastly, you should seriously consider sourcing some help from a 3PL service.
Take a few days to analyze all of your KPIs, labor costs, and transportation needs to determine if hiring a third-party logistics provider might be of use to your operation.
(Any data that you may have collected over the last few years for around this time of the year is going to come in really helpful here.)
By hiring a 3PL, you can drastically cut your operating costs for fulfilling certain process in-house. Not only that, but you also reap the benefits of your chosen 3PL’s knowledge and predictions for the rush and utilization of their connections.
The holiday season is upon us. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have just passed, and we are headed into the Christmas season. That time of the year when businesses and consumers alike are scurrying to put in all those last minute orders.
Having your warehouse working at optimal levels is absolutely crucial and it is a rather complex procedure.
But by taking just a few preventative steps and getting your warehouse in order a month or two before you expect a big rush of orders, you will do just fine this season.