Any supply chain for any organization knows that risk is profound. Inventory is the number one asset for most organizations so protecting it always takes precedence but of course risk to inventory is not the only risk factor. When you look at the numbers concerning compensable injuries in the workplace, especially in warehouses, it is alarming. As the cost of loss goes up, revenue steadily goes down.
The cost of work place injuries combined with the cost of loss of inventory can easily bankrupt an organization so reducing risk along the supply chain is very important. There are tried and true methods of reducing risk but none more important than using the right storage solutions although it is largely overlooked.
Finding the balance between reducing risk yet making inventory easily accessible when necessary has been a long fought battle in logistics. There are few options that can reduce risk substantially enough to really make it count. Many organizations spend a lot of time reviewing the equipment that they use in the warehouse.
They spend a lot of time on training and a lot of money on signage, reminders and other programs to help employees move in a positive direction through-out the work day but only pay minimal attention to storage solutions that reduce risk.
In many cases it is the simplest answer that is the right answer. Storage solutions that can help reduce risk are easy answers that are often overlooked. There are different reasons why storage solutions are overlooked as a way to reduce risk.
- Tradition rules
- Cost effectiveness
- It seems too simple
For many organizations the way they store their inventory is just the way they always have so they do not take a second look. Sometimes the concern about budget restrictions prevents organizations from taking a second look. Other times it just seems that revamping storage is not really going to make a difference because it is so simple.
The following 5 ways to reduce risk are easy steps that you can take to improve your safety record and prevent inventory loss due to damage and theft.
Storage Solutions That Improve Security
One of the greatest losses of inventory happens because storage solutions are not meant to keep your inventory secure. It can be difficult to find secure storage solutions that are also easily accessible. Time is truly money and you cannot choose a solution that provides security but slows down the works in the warehouse so many of the traditional options are out.
Wooden crates offer a great deal of security but they are not ideal for safety reasons. Crates are bulky, hard to move and require tools to both construct and deconstruct. The more parties that are need to move the inventory the more likely there will be an incident. Of course the more people that are using tools the more likely there is to be issues.
Crates also take up more space than necessary but again they are an excellent source of security. Another excellent source of security that does not have all the other issues that wooden crates have are pallets with pallet collars. Pallets are easily moved by a single person on a forklift or even using a pallet jack.
Pallet collars combined with a pallet also take up only as much room as needed. There is no wasted space. They can be constructed without tools and deconstructed without tools. Pallet collars are a much more secure option than shrink wrap and other wrapping is AND it is much more durable for stacking purposes.
Storage Solutions that Reduce Risk of Injury
In many cases the way to reduce risk of injury is to limit the amount of contact and the number of people that have to be deployed to move the inventory around the warehouse. Limiting the number of people that are required to use tools and equipment to lift and move the inventory is also important. The fewer people that have to be deployed to move inventory greatly reduces the risk because there are less people involved to get injured.
This is where pallets make a huge difference. Palletizing inventory makes it a lot safer to move. Palletized goods can easily be moved around the warehouse, loaded and unloaded with just one person on a fork lift or using a pallet jack. Less interaction is always best to reduce risk of injury.
Further Risk Reduction
Of course pallets alone won’t keep everyone safe from spillage that requires pallet collars. Pallet collars will keep palletized inventory safe and secure and keep people in the supply chain that are responsible for storing, stacking, loading and unloading safe as well. The beauty of pallet collars is that they are completely height adjustable which helps to ensure that the goods are packed tightly to prevent shifting when the pallets are being moved around.
Many injuries both inside and outside of the warehouse are due to spillage incidents, avoiding these types of injuries are easy with the right storage solutions. Lost manpower hours are expensive. Damaged inventory is also expensive and they are both very avoidable.
Ensuring a safer work environment and improving inventory security and safety is easy to accomplish when you are using the right tools. Many company’s fail when it comes to keeping up with risk reduction and their storage capabilities. Pallet collars are often overlooked as a solution because of their simplicity. It almost seems to easy that something that does not require any real extra effort can reduce risks so easily.
Proper Packing and Storage Solutions
You can have the best storage solutions on board but if they are being used wrong than you are not reducing the risk as a matter of fact you could be increasing risks greatly. Risk of loss from damage, improper storage and increased of injury is all very possible when proper packaging techniques are not used.
For example palletizing goods is always an easy storage solution but palletizing goods AND not adding pallet collars and using shrink wrap instead only reduces risk minimally. Using shrink wrap instead of pallet collars can help reduce the risk of spillage but it does nothing for stacking abilities.
A good example is the recent story about a mid size organization that reported high 3rd quarter losses that were largely blamed on inventory issues. They had an increase loss of inventory due to improper packing and storage. They also had more than usual employee absenteeism due to reported on the job injury.
The problem was perplexing because they had adopted a palletized system but they were utilizing a shrink wrapping system which was not really protecting their inventory at the level that they assumed it would. The shrink wrapping system was great for shipping but not so great for the long term storage solutions that they needed.
They had seen a 4% increase in warehouse injuries during that quarter as well as 14% increase in losses. Switching the system to pallet collars helped them to lower their injury reports and decrease their inventor losses by 12%. Such a huge jump in increased safety and a reduction in loss is possible by adjusting the packing process.
Use Vertical Space Wisely
Another easy way to reduce risk is to use vertical storage space wisely. For example consider your storage solutions in your warehouse. How many of the boxes/crates/storage containers are partially full? How much actual space is being wasted by container systems that are only partially full? Why does this even matter?
The higher you stack the greater the risk. Of course you have to take advantage of the vertical space in your warehouse to get the most out of the storage space but you would likely be very surprised to find that many of those half full containers are just increasing the risk of an incident.
When you palletize with pallet collars you are consolidating your goods to make storage much more efficient. Pallet collars can be stacked to form different heights which means that if you have 2 feet of goods on the pallet you can cover it with a few collars if you have less you can remove some of the collars. Pallet collars allows you to really make the most of your vertical storage space.
You can more efficiently use your vertical space and will likely be able to reduce the height that you have to stack to store the same amount of goods.
Storage solutions are key in reducing risk to both workers and inventory. The cost of losses in both manpower hours and inventory are the two things that can affect a bottom line more than any other factors. Taking the steps to revaluate your organizations storage solutions will result in easy risk reduction.
Regular assessments can help to pinpoint any necessary change. Many times losses and injuries are a direct result of ignoring the need to change up the way a business uses their storage capabilities.