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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If…Ice Is Your Stopgap Solution

By Kate Vitasek | 06/13/2011 | 5:00 AM

Here’s a warehouse “you’ve got to be kidding” situation that a logistics expert who I’ll call “Fritz” shared.

Fritz relates that a few years ago, he picked up responsibility for a -20 degree facility in the Atlanta metro area.

“My first visit was a shock,” he writes. “I was in the freezer less than one minute when I walked up to a block of ice on the wall that was over 10 inches thick. I asked the warehouse manager how often they chipped ice.


Ice Block

"He said that they don't because the ice patches holes and keeps the heat out!”

Fritz then asked what the temperature in the freezer was and the manager said maybe -5 degrees on a good day but above zero in the summer. 

Keep in mind that that requirements were for the facility to be at -20 degrees. But wait it gets even better… or worse.

“I then noticed ice on the ceiling,” Fritz says. “Again, I inquired how often that ice was removed. I was told: ‘When it gets warm out it usually falls so we don't bother. That’s why we wear hard hats.’”

Unbelievable!!!!!  So much for Fritz’s first five minutes at a facility he was responsible for.

That is a shocking example on several fronts and a cold lesson in how not to handle a cold storage warehouse, from an operational, efficiency, training and safety perspective. 

As the WERC Best Practices Guide notes, storage and warehouse layout must be constantly assessed and upgraded—and not just when ice forms and melts on the walls and ceiling!

A best practice inventory control system includes requirements and procedures for “well-documented and defined processes,” addressing compliance issues (see the -20 degree requirement above), and proper storage practices that include good housekeeping and organization. In addition there has to be the “right company mindset,” which most certainly does not include solving the dangerous problem of falling ice blocks by wearing a hardhat.

So what happened? Fritz tells me he was able to build a new facility within six months after he came onboard. Whew!

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 maybe what to do if you’re not 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 WERC Warehouse Certification Assessment by 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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