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Maintaining warehouse equipment to cope with the peak season

The peak trading season is almost upon us, now is the time to ensure that all handling and other vital equipment is in top working order. Ideally, you should be conducting preventative maintenance regularly throughout the year. In the last quarter, the pressure on delivery times will rise and you can’t afford to have breakdowns.  Equipment failures have a greater chance of happening when volumes are high: order fulfilment suffers.

What can you do now?

It’s not too late to do preventative maintenance in key areas:
  • materials handling equipment: conveyors, forklifts, drones, and robotics
  • loading and storage kits such as racking systems, pallets and wrapping machines
  • workstation equipment especially in receiving and dispatching including electronic media and wearables.
  • lighting and heating equipment
Efficient multi-channel order fulfilment covers a whole range of systems and tasks from receiving inventory to delivering items to customers.  Warehouse logistics operations must be agile enough to cope with the unexpected. Diverting technicians and skilled labour to work on machinery that is inoperable and on broken parts negatively impacts order processing and customer service.

Maintenance Strategies

1.

Have a back-up plan

Automate routine tasks within the warehouse to ease the need for sourcing additional equipment and labour during the peak season.  Build a cushion for the type and number of items of equipment you think will be needed based on historical data and expected seasonal growth. Procure or reserve additional or backup equipment in advance, e.g., consider purchasing or renting reconditioned machines such as forklifts. Track down the equipment you may need using other suppliers or non-traditional sourcing routes.

2.

Harness available technology

Manual methods of managing maintenance using checklists, clipboards, and spreadsheets are no longer efficient or effective: technology is the new enabler. Digital maintenance management tools improve decision-making. Using out-of-date methods to track equipment maintenance adds complexity for your employees and can delay response times for urgent fixes that result in equipment failure and downtime. Digital maintenance solutions offer an easy way to log work orders, schedule maintenance and plan downtime.  Computerised maintenance management systems (CMMS) combine several maintenance processes in one system, improving productivity and equipment performance. There are stand-alone tools that can be integrated into your existing systems, but many WMS systems already include maintenance modules. WMS focus on integrating data to get the best results from physical assets and automation tools. The costs of a WMS are continuing to decrease due to new entrants in the marketplace and increased competition.

3.

How do maintenance technology tools work?

Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology uses electronic media such as tablets, RFID barcoding and mobile handsets to scan, and transmit data. Open communication features allow teams to collaborate to maintain assets efficiently. Most maintenance management cloud-based solutions:
  • provide a dashboard with full visibility into teams’ schedules and assignments.
  • allow scheduled maintenance according to date, time, meter or given event.
  • can generate work orders based on real-time equipment conditions with notifications and alarms.
  • schedule routine inspections
  • store and submit photos, images, files, and notes.
  • provide a library for manuals and standardised procedures.
  • store the history of maintenance events with an audit trail.
  • can coordinate work at sites globally and across time zones.

4.

The benefits of maintenance technology tools

Maintenance technology solutions drive down operational costs, reduce risk, and streamline scheduling. Information on the status of maintenance projects is available online and in real-time.  Updates on work orders are instantly available across multiple locations.  Collaboration is seamless and delays are highlighted for corrective action.  Reactive maintenance is expensive and impacts supply chain performance. Replace, repair, or recondition?  Decisions on actions to be taken related to any piece of equipment are data driven. Advanced analytics use real-time data and maintenance history to optimise asset performance.  With effort and forward planning, you can keep your facilities running smoothly through the demanding peak season. Keep downtime at a minimum throughout the busiest time of year. A warehouse plays a crucial role in the storage and distribution of goods. Managing a warehouse effectively in the peak season can be a complex and challenging task.  Our team of experienced Warehouse Consultants provides expert support and guidance to help businesses ensure smooth and optimised warehouse operations in seasonal peaks. Talk to our warehouse consultants

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