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How Important is Operational Management in Warehouses?

Currently, there are over 20,000 warehousing and storage businesses across the US, each accounting for thousands upon thousands of cubic feet – and millions in business annually. Warehousing and fulfillment is becoming a key aspect of industry both nationally and internationally, as the e-commerce explosion has dramatically increased demand for warehousing services. But operating a warehouse is not a simple matter; operational management, particularly from a maintenance perspective, is key. Why?

Enhanced Safety

Warehouses and fulfillment centers make regular use of sophisticated and heavyweight machinery to move or otherwise manage stock and materials. Forklifts are the most common of these machines, allowing workers to safely transport and lift heavy loads; there are also conveyor systems and automated pickers in use at larger facilities.

All of these machines have the potential for failure, whether mechanical, electrical or hydraulic. Any equipment failure has the potential to endanger human life. Regular and comprehensive equipment maintenance minimizes the risk to workers, in so doing improving morale and productivity.

Improved Equipment Reliability

Equipment maintenance, then, is not about fixing problems as they arise. ‘Preventive maintenance’ is the regular evaluation of equipment functions, and the replacement or servicing of parts prior to their breakage. Having an in-house engineering team capable of repairing machinery in this way, furnished with a long-term agreement with reliable wholesale suppliers like RS Americas, ensures that equipment can be maintained on site and at lower cost – with long-term reliability the payoff.

Cost Savings

The above considerations, coupled with a robust safety and health system that tracks incidents and protects workers, can make for a significant level of medium-to-long term cost savings. Equipment downtime directly impacts the pace at which work can be completed, while injuries resulting from equipment failures can result in heavy civil settlements – and potential negative PR implications to boot. A little investment in operational management can go a long way.

Regulatory Compliance

Finally, but perhaps most importantly of all, a comprehensive approach to operational management and maintenance can ensure that a warehouse remains regulatorily compliant – and hence above the law with regard to worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act describes the vast majority of guidelines for employers to follow, warehousing businesses included.

This is the final point here because it should not be the first incentive for a warehouse to institute proper maintenance and safety systems. Warehouses and fulfillment centers have an ethical obligation to their workers, above and beyond any legal obligations; regulations and legal guidelines, then, should form a framework for businesses to follow, to ensure a minimum level of worker safety and highlight the areas that a business might need to consider the most.

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