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You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If... You Have to Stretch Wrap Your Forklift to Stay Dry

By Kate Vitasek | 11/23/2009 | 8:05 AM

If every picture tells a story then this one is an epic of bad warehousing. Joe Receiving, from last week's blog "You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If... You Think Cross Docking Means Crossing the Street," inspired Carlos Receiving from this bad warehouse to submit his story who - like Joe - needs to remain anonymous.

Carlos explained his bad warehouse also had an outside storage facility that was not attached to their primary warehouse and he - like Joe - had to go outside to do putaways. "We have two buildings, the main warehouse and an overflow building attached to the office area. The forklift drivers have to leave the main warehouse to putaway or replenish to the overflow warehouse. When they do - they are subject to the weather so when it rains or snows we have to go out in the elements. Our solution? Stretch wrap the overhead guard of the forklift truck so the operator can stay dry!"Carlos in the rain(Smudge)

Carlos goes on to explain "we are at 150% capacity and are busting at the seams... so we are constantly making the trip outside to our overflow warehouse in the weather."

I have to give Carlos's an A+ for ingenuity to stretch wrap his forklift to help him stay dry! Maybe if the company tried to keep Carlos dry - he might try to keep the cargo dry he is getting ready to move! Now if only the company would tap into Carlos's A+ ingenuity to help them solve their problem - overcapacity, which is what forced the company to use the overflow warehouse in the first place.

Obviously this is a (very) old-school operation and the only possible benefit here is that it's low-cost and works, in a kind of Rube Goldberg fashion. Small comfort; it's time for a new location and a refresher course on modern WMS techniques.

Safe, efficient and flexible use of space are hallmarks of modern warehouse management. Despite the best efforts of Carlos only one of those factors, flexibility, is in play. But even that flexibility is limited, because the overcapacity issue is forcing valuable product practically out of the door and into the rain and into Carlos's forklift maneuvering area. Forget about proper putaway and product identification procedures.

The Warehousing Education and Research Council Best Practice Guides, as always, offers invaluable and precise advice: "Best practice companies manage the putaway area by calculating resource and space requirements based on expected receipts and current backlogs. Product is also put away the same day, because not doing so impacts space, causes congestion, increases transaction errors and makes product more susceptible to damage. Optimal use of labor is when product is unloaded and immediately put away."

Is Carlos's labor optimal? I'll let you be the judge!

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and perhaps what to do if you're doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected].

If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free warehouse assessment from Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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