If your warehouse is dirty or cluttered, it’s going to say a lot about your business. Beyond being a bit disorganized, a warehouse that is grimy or has accumulated stuff everywhere is probably going to have a negative impact on your business. Here’s how and some of the best practices you can follow to keep a cleaner and less cluttered warehouse.
Why Cleaner Warehouses Outperform Cluttered Ones
One important item that should be on every warehouse’s list is regular decluttering and cleaning. Here are eight reasons why a cleaner warehouse will outperform a cluttered and dirty one.
1. Higher Productivity
It’s challenging to be productive when you work in a messy and cluttered warehouse. Workers also have little sense of pride in where they work, and this can subconsciously impact their performance.
According to research from ScienceDirect.com and the International Journal of Science and Research, there is a relationship between the physical work environment and employee productivity. A cleaner warehouse improves efficiency by lowering employee stress and allowing workers to complete tasks faster.
2. More Efficient Inventory Management
When your warehouse stays organized, it’s easier to process and manage inventory. Your business can improve the efficiency of its picking and packing operations, which may reduce errors and eliminate the need for costly overtime.
3. Eliminates Waste
A more efficient and tidy warehouse is naturally going to produce less waste in several areas. The first area is wasted time searching for inventory and other items among the clutter. If your workers can’t find things like inventory or packaging materials, you might have to order duplicates, which is a costly and wasteful practice.
4. Reduces Product Theft
Warehouses often house tons of high-value items. Sometimes, those products are simply stacked in the aisles or left too long in staging areas. Not only is this a safety issue, but it’s also a temptation for theft. When you declutter your warehouse, you can restrict access to certain areas and make sure everything is in its place, making it easier to track missing items.
5. Addresses Warehouse Space Issues
A substantial amount of your warehouse space is probably either going unused or is being misused if you aren’t organized. Maybe you have stacks of empty pallets and cartons lying around or unused shelf space that could house inventory. The right organizing system can get rid of unnecessary clutter and ensure you are using the space you have efficiently.
6. Lowers Maintenance Costs
Warehouses that rely on technology solutions for automation and materials handling need to remain free of debris to perform at peak efficiency. If there is too much clutter or dirt, smaller items like wearables can get misplaced. Larger items will experience undue wear and tear, requiring maintenance and replacement more frequently. A clean and well-run warehouse can cut down on these costs.
7. Improves Health and Safety
Clean and decluttered workspaces are such health and safety hazards that federal and state regulators have passed standards for compliance. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will penalize businesses that fail to maintain safe workspaces.
Regular cleaning and decluttering are essential to prevent accidents and injuries related to slippery surfaces, falling objects, and items left in aisles or walkways. OSHA reports that 25% of reported claims each year are due to slips, trips, and falls in the workplace.
8. Represents a Positive Company Image
No one wants to work in or work with a warehousing company that is disorganized and dirty. It gives the impression that the company and its workers don’t care about safety, customers, or attention to detail. Warehouse safety and cleanliness are a reflection of the company’s commitment to quality and its core values.
5 Best Practices for a Cleaner and More Organized Warehouse
Now that you know why you should make warehouse cleanliness and organization a priority, how do you accomplish this? Here are some of the consistent actions you can take to keep your facility cleaner and more organized.
1. Establish Cleaning Goals
Instead of doing a massive cleaning annually or semi-annually, it’s much simpler to just keep your warehouse keep on an ongoing basis. Creating a warehouse cleaning plan which includes a schedule - daily, weekly, or monthly - of tasks that must be accomplished. And make sure you include an inspection to ensure these items are getting done.
2. Require “Clean-as-You-Go”
One of your warehouse’s policies should be that a task isn’t complete until the mess associated with it is also cleaned up. If packing a shipment creates a mess, those materials should be discarded. Likewise, any debris created when servicing equipment needs to be removed from the area immediately.
3. Assign Cleaning Zones to Staff
Workers should never be permitted to leave messy areas for the next shift. The employees assigned to picking duties might also have a cleaning zone around certain shelving areas. Likewise, the workers who deal with receiving will also be in charge of getting rid of empty pallets when those items go to inventory.
4. Make Cleaning Equipment and Supplies Available
If you’re asking your employees to clean, it’s a good idea to give them easy access to cleaning supplies. If they have to walk halfway across the warehouse to get to a garbage can or find a broom, this isn’t a good use of anyone’s time or resources. Make sure these items are close at hand.
5. Regularly Turn Inventory
Few customers want to purchase outdated inventory, and they can tell when items have been sitting on the shelf for years. They’re covered in dust! When you turn over your inventory more regularly, you can avoid these issues and have a more efficient operation.
Regular cleaning of your warehouse should be a vital part of the company’s practices to ensure compliance with various regulations and the well-being of employees. An organized warehouse is also more productive with higher efficiency levels and more accurate inventory management. Your business can leverage various technology and automation solutions to help it get organized, reduce clutter, and instill more pride in the overall operations.