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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If…The Beeps Go Eerily Silent

By Kate Vitasek | 07/11/2011 | 5:00 AM

This week's bad warehouse story is courtesy of Dr. Karl Manrodt. Karl is my friend, colleague and a co-author of my book, Vested Outsourcing: Five Rules That Will Transform Outsourcing. He provides a good reason why companies that are not experts in warehousing should consider outsourcing.


Karl's story reveals that throwing people and equipment at the work during busy periods is not an effective way to manage a warehouse. But the more important lesson is the lack of safety. Disconnecting forklift backup beepers is flawed thinking of the highest order and is an accident waiting to happen.

The WERC Best Practices Guide notes that lift truck accidents result in dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries each year. The guide continues: “Educating employees about how to behave around lift truck traffic is a minimum safety requirement, as are forklift training and certification programs.” I seriously doubt there is any training and certification program in existence that would accept the beeper practice that Karl saw.

The guide also says that technology can help make the workplace environment more productive as well as safe. “Warning devices that alert workers and lift truck operators that an area is occupied or that a lift truck is moving into or out of an area are common on today’s lift trucks.” Disabling those devices borders on the criminal.

WERC says better wasy to handle peak congestion areas include "no pedestrian" zones and well-marked traffic areas. Also, designing traffic flows that separate lift trucks from each other and from personnel “reduces accidents and increases fork truck efficiencies.”

And keep the backup beepers operational!

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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