Spring Cleaning the Warehouse

When maintaining warehouse operations, sometimes the simplest tasks often get overlooked. Allowing these to fester and accumulate can create havoc and limit the efficiency of your output. More importantly, it can be a safety issue for your employees. Trip hazards, mess, dirt - all of these things can increase the risk of accidents and decrease morale. With the first quarter of the year out of the way, now’s the time to consider spring cleaning your warehouse. Below, we’ve created a hand strategy to get you started.

Assess your current warehouse situation

  • Observe and record the current condition of the warehouse

What are the main sticking points for your team? What seems to be creating the most inefficiencies? An audit of your current warehouse condition and environment allows you to spot key problems, identify them, create a solution, and implement a change. Make sure you gain feedback from the floor team too. These are the individuals who will have the best overview of how the warehouse is run and what issues are creating the biggest problems.

  • Identify potential hazards or safety concerns

Your warehouse team keeps your business moving. Without them, you can’t effectively ship your products. And if your team is at risk from potential hazards or safety issues, it can leave them feeling less than valued and unsafe, even pushing them to look elsewhere for work. During your spring clean and throughout the year, you should identify potential hazards, not only to comply with safety regulations and rules, but to protect your staff and maintain a safe working environment.

  • Evaluate the layout and flow of the warehouse

At the start of any warehouse project, your focus should be on organising the space for optimum process flow. But as your warehouse grows and changes over time, this process might look different. Evaluating the layout and flow of your warehouse periodically can spot any potential inefficiencies, as well as gain feedback from the floor team on what they’re experiencing on a day-to-day basis. It should be safe, organised, and highly efficient, keeping orders moving and limiting waste.

  • Analyse the storage and inventory system

Has your business grown over the past year? Are you producing different products? Has demand increased? Reviewing storage capacity can be a great place to start when it comes to a spring clean. A busy, hectic warehouse, with limited storage space, can easily become overcrowded and unsafe. It can also be a risk to your products. As dust and dirt accumulate over time, it has to live somewhere - and unfortunately, your shelving areas are a prime spot for debris to fall and hide.

Develop a plan of action

Before you can begin your warehouse spring cleaning, you need a solid action plan. This is important for the rest of the year too, giving you a measurable routine, and one that can be easily tracked.

  • Prioritise tasks based on the level of urgency

What’s causing a lot of problems that could be easily rectified? Maybe it’s a pile-up of cardboard boxes or multiple trip hazards. These tasks can not only cause harm to your employees, but they’re also a fire hazard. Issues that can cause injury or harm should be addressed first - and ultimately avoided in the future. Taking note of tasks can allow for this to happen. It might feel like extra admin, but it’s worth it in the long run.

  • Determine the resources needed

In order to complete these urgent tasks, as well as any less urgent cleaning tasks that follow, take a look at whether you have the resource or not. Although team members will be able to complete regular tasks, such as clearing areas and sweeping debris, for larger jobs, such as deep cleaning the floors and walls, you might want to consider bringing in the professionals. With powerful tools and machines (even robots), these cleaning companies are able to thoroughly scrub your warehouse and bring it back to its former glory.

  • Delegate responsibilities among staff members

Once you’ve outlined the resource needed, it’s time to delegate. Cleaning is certainly not always high on employees’ lists when it comes to work-fulfilment - but a team effort and incentive programme can offer an element of - dare we say it? - fun.

  • Establish a timeline for completion

Although this is a spring cleaning plan of action, you still need to set a deadline. Work back from the date you’d like the warehouse cleaned by. Perhaps it’s just before a new shipment comes in or before a sale begins. A timeline is essential for ensuring that all tasks are complete and nothing is missed. It’s easy to put things off until next year; a timeline stops that.

Put that plan into action

Your timeline is ready, your employees have been briefed, and now all that’s left to do is put the spring cleaning plan into action. Your POA might look something like this, with individual tasks broken down into the relevant group:

- Clean and declutter the warehouse
- Organise the inventory
- Streamline the storage system
- Re-evaluate the layout and flow
- Employee training

Some tasks, such as re-evaluation of layout and flow, will take longer than others and might need a helping hand from an external source. But during a big clean, it’s vital to dissect how well your warehouse is working so you can a) create a more efficient process and b) keep on top of your cleaning schedule.

Making use of technology

Autonomous floor scrubbers or robots are ideal if you want to stay on top of your warehouse cleaning schedule (not just during the spring). These clever machines are able to clean your floor space, without damaging your inventory - or your employees. It also means your staff have one less cleaning task to think about, focusing more on shipping products and managing the packaging line. This means more attention is paid to higher-value work, so employees feel more valued and likely to stick around.

Shipping software is able to create bespoke rules, automating your shipping process further and reducing the number of mistakes. This ultimately creates less waste in terms of boxes and labels, keeping your warehouse cleaner and tidier - and improving efficiency.

Best practices for keeping your warehouse clean

Below is a handy spring cleaning checklist to keep your warehouse clean:

Daily warehouse cleaning jobs

- Sweep floors and walkways
- Mop floors (or set your autonomous floor scrubber to do the work)
- Empty waste bins and recycling vestibules
- Check shelf and pallet safety
- Sanitise surfaces, such as light switches, door handles, shelves, and trollies

Weekly warehouse cleaning jobs

- Organise shelving areas
- Check equipment and maintain it properly
- Full dust of warehouse, including inventory and shelves
- Check fire extinguishers and other safety equipment

Monthly warehouse cleaning jobs

- Deep clean floors and walls
- Check for signs of damp or mould
- Check for signs of pests
- Clean windows and doors.