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Minimizing product damage is a critical job for all warehouses, but in food warehousing it can take on new levels of importance and significance.

Due to the frequently fragile nature of the packages that food comes in – cardboard cereal boxes, glass jars full of strawberry jam, plastic squeeze bottles for ketchup – food warehouses need to be more careful than most when it comes to transporting goods, storing items, or even just taking them off the pallet.

Proper damage control in your food warehouse can prevent product loss and stop a giant mess from getting made, but with the variety of products out there it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a few of our favorite tips for preventing damage and loss in food warehousing:

Block off your pallets: Pallet racks are still the most common form of storage for most food goods, aside from more sensitive items that need specialized food shelving to prevent the spread of germs. As most pallet racks still stretch fairly high vertically, you’ll want to make sure all of your pallet racking uses pallet rack safety nets to prevent things from falling off the side or getting damaged by aisle way traffic.

Proper item classification: A big part of warehouse damage control is knowing what items are most susceptible to breakage. Track down these items (by reviewing a regularly-generated loss report if need be) and flag them both in your WMS and physically using stickers or other visual indicators as needed. This will make sure your employees know to handle these items with kid gloves and follow specialized procedures for stocking and picking these items when the time comes.

Create an exception handling plan: Speaking of procedures for picking fragile items, you should take the time to create an exception plan for your goods that need to be handled more carefully. Create a plan that covers the different types of fragile goods and containers (glass jars, pallets of frozen foods, and the like) and provide a comprehensive handling guide to each one to ensure nothing gets broken or damaged along the way in transit. This plan should also be clearly communicated to every employee that may be affected by it, even management staff that doesn’t come into frequent contact with goods on the floor.

Avoid stacking: Above all else, most food packaging and their associated pallets aren’t strong enough to withstand a lot of weight, and stacking most food products should be avoided whenever possible. Make sure to carefully label your most fragile goods and pallets to avoid stacking, and provide additional shelving wherever possible to provide storage options that go horizontally and not vertically.

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