Top tips for reducing warehouse maintenance costs
Warehouses take a lot of wear and tear and require vigilance to ensure they continue to stay in optimum condition. Taking proactive steps at addressing maintenance issues can help keep the site operating at full capacity, avoid production delays, protect product inventory, reduce operating costs and minimize accidents.
Consider maintenance issues in the building design phase
Ensuring the longevity of the warehouse structure and reducing maintenance costs starts with the building design phase. According to a report by the university Politecnico di Torino about strategic factors influencing warehouse maintenance costs, "maintenance cost reduction can only be achieved by making appropriate design decisions on the strategic characteristics of warehouse facilities. In particular, the location and age of the building are relevant factors of breakdown maintenance, while the monthly volume of freight transiting the warehouse is a significant cost factor of maintenance due to damage…To create cost savings, it is important to design and build maintenance cost-efficient workplaces or to select constructed facilities that were designed for this objective."
You can achieve substantial maintenance cost reductions by proactively addressing issues that influence building efficiency. Here are several ways to do so:
- Carefully assess the aisle width. In general, wide aisles allow you to get to product faster, but having the aisles too wide will reduce storage space. Determine what will work best both from a productivity standpoint and from space usage for racking.
- Choose low-profile, durable concrete slabs. When choosing materials, keep maintenance costs in mind. DUCTILCRETE® engineered slab systems significantly reduce control joints and curling. This helps eliminate the cracks that commonly occur in concrete slabs and alleviates the associated wear and tear on forklifts going over uneven flooring.
- Verify that the HVAC systems are sited properly. It’s not uncommon for warehouses to have rooftop HVAC units, but this leaves the equipment exposed to extreme temperatures and weather. Consult with an HVAC professional to determine the appropriate location for HVAC units and to have the systems routinely inspected and tuned.
- Consider lighting needs. Install sufficient windows to allow for as much natural light as possible in order to reduce energy bills and heating costs. Invest in clear, bright lighting to help prevent accidents.
Invest in preventative maintenance
All buildings deteriorate over time and preventative maintenance can help to avoid costly problems. Deferred maintenance can lead to delays in order fulfillment or an increase in man hours for dealing with problems in the facility. Or even worse, safety issues could impact the property and staff. The following tips will help protect your facility, equipment and inventory.
- As appropriate, make sure all new staff is certified to operate warehouse equipment such as forklifts and cranes.
- Create a maintenance plan for all machinery used at the warehouse. Keep track of all warranties and certificates of compliance.
- Follow manufacturers’ recommendations for individual building components, including roofing, doors and windows, cladding, electrical systems, HVAC systems and flooring.
- Have your environmental, health and safety team identify any hazardous materials used in the warehouse and how they should be managed.
- Verify that sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers are installed in the right locations and that staff is trained to use fire extinguishers.
- Keep warehouse floors free of trip hazards. This means not only keeping the floor free of stray cords, but also fixing cracks and dips in the floor as quickly as possible.
- Hire a professional pest control company for proactive maintenance and be sure they monitor the site periodically to identify and resolve any issues.
- Have routine site inspections to assess the condition of the roof, floor, windows and other elements of the warehouse.
- Encourage warehouse staff to alert you if they notice an area in need of maintenance.
- Keep an eye on drainage areas to make sure there aren't any wet floors and slip hazards.
- Plan for periodic/proactive site inspections by the facilities manager as well as inspections if a significant problem or failure occurs. Additional inspections may be needed, for example, by a licensed electrician to ensure the electric service is operating safely and efficiently.
- Be sure that racks are in good shape. Promptly fix bent, rusty or rickety racking, which can be a safety hazard.
- If you store perishable items, create a plan to identify expired inventory, to help keep people safe and help deter pests.
- Be sure the warehouse is cleaned/swept daily or at the end of every shift and that any debris such as scrap pallets are swiftly removed.
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