There comes a time in the lifespan of many warehouses where they find themselves needing to expand their ability to receive new products and process more shipments at once, due to busy seasons or simply an uptick in business.

While the increased flow of products is always a good sign for business health, it can wreak havoc on your current methods of taking in products and handling distribution. An easy way to help prevent some of these issues is to expand your loading dock and reorganize your shipping and receiving areas.

In many cases, an expanded loading dock will allow for improved flow of incoming and outgoing goods and provide for fewer hassles when taking in product. Read on to see what you can do to make things easier for your inbound/outbound department:

 

Consider truck safety: A big part of shipping & receiving is how easily the trucks can deliver the goods in the first place, and in too many cases warehouse owners are content to simply provide a space for trucks to pull in without giving it much consideration. The Material Transfer Zone (MTZ) where most trucks do their work needs additional safety considerations to prevent injury, stop inventory loss, and make sure everyone can work as quickly and productively as possible. Make sure you provide vehicle restraints, set all dock levelers at the appropriate height, and provide barrier gates and bay doors where possible to keep your trucks, inventory, and staff as safe as possible.

 

Plan for onsite traffic patterns: Shipping and receiving is the site of many a traffic jam in the warehouse, both figuratively and literally, and planning out the best route for everyone can go a long way towards reducing congestion and maintaining productivity. Lay out a route for trucks to pull into your warehouse as easy as possible (factoring in major cross streets, routes to your warehouse, etc) and then create an easy path for workers to get back to the docks. You’ll have plenty of space for warehouse shelving elsewhere in the building; it’s important to focus on creating free space for product to come in and out as quickly as possible.

 

Outfit your receiving area with extra storage: In a lot of cases, items will need to stay behind at the receiving dock while other things are unloaded or handled as needed. Provide wire shelving and pallet racks where space allows at your receiving dock to help keep products flowing where they have to be and free up some labor capacity.

 

Perform regular maintenance: A big part of keeping your work flowing smoothly is to make sure everything is working as designed. From the big things like truck bays and heavy doors to the shelves and forklifts your workers use to get things around, enforce a strict maintenance schedule on every part of the loading dock to make sure everything is fixed or replaced as needed and keep it all in good working order.

 

Keep workers up-to-date on processes: Your workers are surely pretty well-versed in loading and unloading procedures by this point, but refresher courses never hurt anyone. Make sure your workers know what kind of product you expect, how to handle any fragile or sensitive materials you might be taking in, and keep them informed on the different processes when it comes to things like unloading a refrigerated truck versus a container truck and the like.

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