Inventory damage is a huge issue in the warehouse business. Product damage accounts for significant revenue loss for everyone involved in the storage and transportation industry. Each year, American business all across the supply chain suffer untold losses resulting from crushed, broken, bent and defective goods. Much of it can be prevented.
Unnecessary loss is frustrating for owners and managers who compete in tight markets. They’re responsible for bottom lines and the financial health of their companies. You might think damaged products are inevitable and part of the cost of doing business. Unfortunately, no matter how well-managed a company is, that statement is somewhat true. Accidents happen, but you can greatly reduce the rate and severity of workplace mishaps that damage inventory and sometimes injure workers.
Damage prevention in the supply chain is a high priority for warehouse managers and transportation operators. They strive to reduce their cost of doing business by looking at the root cause of incidents where products are devalued or destroyed. As part of the industry, you look for best practices on how to prevent shipping damage. You also know that to reduce product damage, you’ll have to make improvements in your business model. There’s always room for improvement.
Although product damage feels inevitable, there are several controllable factors that contribute to inventory damage reduction. Identifying these factors and taking positive action plays a large role in reducing product loss and raising business profits. A functional freight damage prevention program can make an enormous impact on your company’s financial statement. Even small steps can pay off significantly.
Small Improvements to Reduce Product Damage
According to a study on how damaged goods impact business profits, a damage percentage of 1/100 in your business is unacceptably high. Achieving a fraction of 1/1,000 is closer to what warehouse and shipping businesses should accept. However, achieving a ratio of 1:10,000 is realistic and can be done by taking proactive measures and implementing excellent warehouse loss prevention tips.
Many businesses operate at a 1 percent gross volume loss from goods being damaged while in their care and control. To put this in perspective, if your business conducts $10,000,000 in annual product handling, losing 1 percent of it due to damage would mean $100,000 being lost every year. That’s a lot of money. Think of the savings if you invested in a concentrated effort to reduce inventory damage. Reducing your loss to 0.5 percent would return $50,000, never mind what achieving a 0.01 percent loss would save.
Taking small steps toward reducing product damage in your warehouse is easily achievable. It starts with identifying the causes of warehouse inventory damage and making a concentrated plan for eliminating the hazards that created your loss. Almost all damage to valuable stock happens during movement in the supply chain.
Loss by damage occurs for two main reasons. One is that goods are improperly packaged and stored. The other is they’re mishandled by workers or equipment used in transit.
Although these are the two primary surface factors that cause product damage, there are many underlying contributors to the problem. This is where you need to drill deep and find the issues. You need to take a specific aim to eliminate risks and return financial rewards. It takes time, energy and some investment in financial and human resource capital. Your profits will go up and so will your customer approval rating. The end results are definitely worth the effort.
Throughout the material handling points of contact, there are different tools you can use to protect your inventory. Here are five ideas for preventing product damage throughout the inventory supply chain:
- Secure loaded pallets
- Contain and protect bulk items
- Organize and store loaded pallets
- Move products safely
- Maintain a safe warehouse
Let’s review each of these warehouse loss prevention tips to get a better idea of the potential for product damage throughout the supply chain. We’ll suggest the top material-handling and storage solutions from Cherry’s Industrial Equipment so you can prevent product damage in your warehouse.
1. Secure Loaded Pallets by Using Stretch Wrappers and Loading Correctly
Pallets are a mainstay in your warehouse. For decades, the lowly and overlooked pallet has served and reserved in protecting products during storage and shipment.
But pallets themselves can be a source of problems. They can also be a place of protection when properly selected and secured with the right loading procedures. Here are some tips for preventing damage when using pallets:
- Select the proper pallet. This is vital, as the pallet has to be suitable for the weight and individual characteristics of the load. No matter what type of inventory you carry, you need to make sure that your pallets are durable enough to keep your products safe. Selecting the right pallet will prevent incidental damage from impact or contamination as well as support heavy weights and preventing load collapse. Cherry’s Industrial offers an extensive selection of pallets made from materials like plastic, aluminum, wire mesh, pressboard and even corrugated cardboard. If you need further guidance in selecting the right pallet for your application you can reach one of our product specialists at 877-350-2729.
- Inspect the pallet. Faulty pallets are leading causes of product damage in a warehouse. Before loading, make sure the pallet is serviceable. If not, set it aside for repair or discard it. Watch for stress fractures, loose boards, exposed nails, slivers and signs of contamination that can transfer through and damage your goods.
- Load the pallet correctly. This may seem elementary, but many perfectly good products are damaged or destroyed when pallet loads fail by toppling over or collapsing under the unsupported weight. Load the pallet with the heaviest items at the bottom and go up with lighter lifts that taper inward. Never let items hang over the edge of a pallet. This is a high risk to snag during transport. And never exceed the pallet’s load rating in gross weight.
- Secure the contents of the pallet. Failing to properly secure the contents of a loaded pallet is a major cause of product damage in warehouses and during transit. Nearly all pallet load accidents can be prevented by ensuring the products were properly secured using professional wrapping techniques.
Instead of taking your chances with hand-wrapping, opt for the consistency and durability that comes by using a stretch wrapping machine. Cherry’s Industrial offers stretch wrappers that are essential in freight damage prevention. Choose from our turntable, overhead or automatic stretch wrapping machines.
Even though your goods have been properly wrapped and secured to the correct pallet, they’re still vulnerable to other links in the storage and shipment chain. Another risky area is when products aren’t stored in proper, accessible containers. This is another area where you can reduce the risk of product damage.
2. Contain and Protect Bulk Items With the Help of Different Containers
No matter how fragile or durable a product is, properly packaging and storing it before shipment is highly important in ensuring it arrives safely at its final destination. Many companies like yours invest large sums of money toward warehouse space and equipment to pack, store and ship valuable goods. The key is having the proper facility design, the right equipment and properly trained workers to operate it.
Containers are a major protection point for packaged products. You must place goods in containers that are appropriate in size and durability. Goods need to have sufficient room to allow perimeter packing so they’re protected on all sides. This prevents shifting during transit and protects the top of products, or the “head space,” where they are vulnerable to crushing damage from a lack of support when other containers are stacked on top.
Here are three container solutions to keep your bulk items and other product SKUs safe from potential damage:
- Collapsible containers: Collapsible containers are an absolute necessity in warehouse product storage. Collapsible containers from Cherry’s Industrial come in a wide range of durability levels from all purpose to heavy duty to meet your product containing requirements. Different container sizes and capacities ensure you have more options for keeping your products safe and your warehouse organized.
- Metal containers: Metal containers for storing bulk products are becoming increasingly popular. Metal storage containers, such as those offered by Cherry’s Industrial, are great when you need extra durability. They’re also important solutions for addressing contamination and hygiene. The aluminum containers, for example, are easy to clean and will protect your precious inventory.
- Bins and boxes: Don’t let your miscellaneous bulk items become susceptible to product damage and misplacement. Having enough assorted bins and boxes on hand is one of the simplest loss prevention tips you can follow. Part bins and shelf bins help keep small items organized so they don’t go missing. Cherry’s Industrial Equipment can supply you with a variety of bins or boxes in multiple capacities for storing and protecting your inventory.
Containers, bins and boxes are ultimately ways to declutter and organize your warehouse. Clutter creates unnecessary risks to workers through tripping hazards and collisions when trying to avoid items left carelessly lying about.
“A place for everything and everything in its place” should be your warehouse motto. Your workforce will quickly adopt this line of thinking, which results in improved efficiency and protected products. For further efficiency, and to avoid workers hurting themselves when trying to reach in containers, you can utilize container tilters to make parts more accessible.
3. Organize and Store Loaded Pallets With Effective Racking Solutions
Prevent loaded pallets from damage caused by busy warehouse activity by ensuring they’re contained on designated racking units. “Racking” is the warehouse term for shelving. You’ll have a lot of rack in your warehouse even if it’s a smaller facility. Racking is indispensable in warehousing, and it’s extremely important that you invest in the right racking equipment. That’s not just metal side bars and supports. It includes the wire decking and all the various types of containers used in supporting packaged goods and loaded pallets.
As with pallets and containers, racks come in different configurations and weight capacities. It’s extremely important that you have the proper load strength in racking equipment. Failure in any of the rack system’s components could have drastic results in product damage or worker injury. When choosing rack sizes, designs and capacities, it is always good to consult with experts in this field. We at Cherry’s Industrial would be glad to answer any questions you may have regarding your warehouse storage needs. We have years of experience in providing racks and rack protectors that secure goods and reduce product damage in your facility.
Here are some of the racking solutions that we at Cherry’s Industrial offer:
- Step beams: Step beams are one of the critical components that make up the selective racks. The beams come in various lengths, heights, capacities, and styles. Always seek professional advice when selecting step beams. They are the essential parallel platforms upon which all of the products you store will rest.
- Tear drop frames and uprights: Build the safest and strongest pallet rack possible with Cherry’s Industrial’s tear drop racking frames. Tear drop frames can come in heights ranging from 96”- 192” and also come with depths from 36” to 48”. Pallet racks need special care and attention. Spacing is critical, as front-loaded pallets need precise widths to allow setting. By selecting the right racking design you insure safety and productivity for your facility.
- Pallet support bars: Pallet “cross” bars are yet another precaution to take when preventing product damage in your warehouse. These reinforcements act as an extra line of defense. Pallet support bars stop your pallets from accidentally falling when they’re placed on shelves by workers operating pallet trucks or stackers.
- Wire decking: Wire decking is a rack accessory that requires careful consideration. Wire gauge that’s too thin won’t be able to support significant loads. Your Cherry’s Industrial Equipment specialist can recommend exactly what type and size of decking your warehouse requires. This important detail may save you plenty by protecting your racked products.
- Rack protectors: Rack protectors prevent forklift run-ins, which can not only damage the rack itself but can also damage nearby pallets and containers. Ensure additional product care by installing rack protectors on your pallet racking units. Rack protectors are highly visible and help guide forklifts so the drivers can safely maneuver your pallets. Choose from our supply of rack protectors from Cherry’s Industrial Equipment.
Secured pallets, versatile containers and durable racking are part of the static storage strategies you can review when planning a proactive approach to reducing product damage in your warehouse. But what about solutions for protecting products when being moved and handled?
Almost all damage occurs while products are being handled. You can decrease the risk by reducing travel time occurring in your facility. With the right material handling machinery, you can increase efficiency, lessen the number of touch points and safely place your inventory in its home. Cherry’s Industrial has solutions for that, too.
4. Move Products Safely With the Help of Pallet Trucks and Stackers
Nowhere does warehouse equipment investment pay off better than in increasing efficiency while moving loaded pallets. When you need to safely and quickly move loaded pallets from the dock to the racks, then you need reliable pallet movers that will make that happen.
Pallet movers come in all different capacities and function. These material-handling machines are essential in preventing product damage. There are two broad types of machinery that can help — pallet trucks and pallet stackers.
- Pallet trucks: By using a pallet truck, you can easily lift and transport loaded pallets throughout your warehouse without fear of pallets falling or colliding. Additionally, pallet trucks and their properly trained operators place loads squarely and firmly onto pallet racking units.
This ensures the even distribution of pallet loads, which prevents accidents and collapse. You can safely move and lift your pallets with pallet trucks from Cherry’s Industrial. We offer several solutions, including manual, electric, specialty and all-terrain pallet truck options.
- Pallet stackers: If you need to maneuver your inventory into tight spaces and narrow aisles, then certain forklift trucks may do more harm than good. That’s when you’ll need a secondary material-handling solution for added versatility.
Pallet stackers are smaller but durable lifting equipment that can assist your workers in safely and quickly stacking your loaded pallets onto warehouse racking. This helps ensure pallets get put away immediately and without risk of damage by falling or collision. Pallet stackers from Cherry’s Industrial come in manual, semi-electric and full-power functionality to meet your pallet transportation needs.
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment supplies a wide variety of material-handling solutions to safely move, lift and place your loaded pallets. These pieces of quality equipment make warehouse work safer and also help prevent product damage. Material-handling machinery like pallet trucks and stackers ultimately reduce touch points, which are an important part of your damage reduction program. Once you have them moved, use pallet racking to keep the material safe.
Equally important is improving your ability to manage workers and your equipment that transport products about your packaging, storage and loading dock areas. The key is providing your workforce with the right safety guidelines and protocols and making sure they understand how cautious behavior reduces product loss. Cherry’s Industrial has plenty of sound advice to offer when it comes to safety.
5. Maintain a Safe Warehouse Using Signage and Visual Aids
Most warehouses are divided into three areas. One is packaging. The second is storage. And the third section is shipping/receiving or the loading dock. All three warehouse departments have traffic flow, and this is where proper design and appointment can have a terrific impact on lowering product damage incidents.
At Cherry’s Industrial Equipment, we know that a safe warehouse is a productive one. Warehouse safety and conscious warehouse design prevent collisions, accidents and other incidents that lead to product damage and loss. By creating a workplace culture of safety, workers are more careful and they take their actions more seriously. When workers take their behaviors seriously, they can be excellent resources for loss prevention. Being cautious, using the appropriate equipment and thinking safety first means that your warehouse staff will lower the risk of personal damage as well as damage to your inventory.
Overall, a well-designed warehouse is one that will have the least amount of risk of product damage. This also includes having the right safety standards in place. Safety standards not only remind workers to be careful but also cultivate a safety mindset over time.
Cherry’s Industrial offers several safety solutions for reducing the risk of product damage. Here are some product loss prevention solutions from Cherry’s Industrial:
- Aisles and pathways: Tight spaces are notoriously troublesome for lifting equipment. Pallet trucks and stackers all require space to operate safely. Aisles that are too narrow make it difficult for operators to turn and navigate in. This often results in unintentional contact between the equipment and the packaged goods being transported or adjacent products statically stored. To prevent this scenario, it’s imperative to use aisle markings and floor safety tape to indicate pathways and aisles. Check out Cherry’s Industrials inventory of aisle marking and floor safety tape options.
- Safety and warehouse signage: All areas of your warehouse should be appointed with proper signage so there is no mistake in directions and divisions. Signs should clearly state direction of travel for equipment and operators. You should post maximum weight capacities on racks. It’s also helpful if you can identify hazards such as low ceilings or exposed cables. All this contributes to efficiency, worker safety and ultimately to product protection. Cherry’s Industrial offers a wide variety of safety signage solutions as well as directional signage for workflow.
- Visual aids: Visual aids help workers stay alert. They’re a reminder of safety protocols and can drastically cut back on accidents. Additionally, visual aids can give your workers directions by alerting them to pallet truck access points and areas. Remember that common sense is not always common practice, so it’s important to mitigate risk as much as possible by having these important visual aids. Cherry’s Industrial has visual aid solutions for every scenario to keep your warehouse safe and your products intact.
The best form of prevention is training workers so they are familiar with their tasks, how their equipment operates as well as safety policies and procedures. Proper training also includes instilling an overall situational awareness in employees so they instinctively recognize potential hazards and react to avoid them.
All of these core tips go a long way toward helping you identify weakness in your supply chain that are costing you large amounts in loss from damaged goods. Fortunately, much of your loss can be cut by being aware of the root causes and reducing or eliminating pain points with the right material-handling equipment.
Let Cherry’s Industrial Equipment Partner With You
Cherry’s Industrial Equipment is pleased to partner with you in providing advice on other fine warehouse equipment. Check out our online catalog for the latest listings on racking systems and wire decking accessories. We carry a wide line of plastic and wire mesh containers to protect your products in storage and as they’re being readied for shipment.
Don’t forget our excellent line of pallets that both stabilize and protect your products. Cherry’s supplies plastic and aluminum pallets in addition to our line of pallet protection solutions. We also have an excellent stock of safety supplies to keep your workers and products accident-free.
And make sure you look into some of the best product protection equipment we handle — our line of stretch-wrapping machines. Cherry’s is your one-stop shop for all your product protection needs. Contact a Cherry’s Industrial Equipment representative today to learn more about the best safety and storage options for your business.