As warehouses increasingly rely on technology, the potential for downtime due to a tech failure or system problem is on the rise as well.
While downtime may be unavoidable, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Here are some ways to reduce warehouse downtime, recover more quickly, and minimize the impact of downtime on your operation.
Survey your site with heat maps, identifying the highest-trafficked areas in your warehouse. Identifying the places where you need the most coverage will help you plan ahead and make sure you have the capacity to handle influxes. Distribution of work is key to avoiding a crunch that may cause downtime due to overloading the system. Setting up a wireless network design with built-in monitoring, alerts and reporting will ensure that turnbacks are being reported immediately. Read more about the importance of reporting turnbacks in our article, “Warehouse Optimization: The Problem with Having No Problems.”
Technology in supply chains is advancing at a rapid pace, and often warehouse staff might not be aware of how it works—often times, outside of the IT manager, there are very few others who truly understand how to run the technology. Robust end-user training is key. Make sure employees are trained on the functions and features of the technology that they are using every day—and the stations that they are cross-trained on.
Technology that is web-based tends to have backups and redundant servers built in, which can go a long way towards minimizing downtime. Find out if your WMS has a web-based option, or comes with built-in redundant servers or other backup solutions.
It can take a long time to diagnose a problem if you do not have a dedicated support desk. If you have an in-house IT team, the response time will obviously be faster than if you have to wait for an outside team to get back to you. If you do outsource your IT, make sure that they still offer 24/7 support desk that you can access in the case of a problem. A single point of contact is another must-have when it comes to a third-party IT support desk. Remote technical support is essential, and a single point of contact will be able to stay on top of your case and respond faster.
Make sure that you have a pool of spare devices and parts that you can access. In addition to keeping new parts in supply in your warehouse, make sure that once you replace a faulty part, you get the malfunctioning parts repaired if possible so that you’ll replenish your supply of spare parts to have on hand the next time your team needs it.
Today’s WMS technology is great – the ways it can streamline process, optimize labor usage and shave costs from an operation are many. But sometimes, good old fashioned manual process is the only answer when downtime is unavoidable. Make sure your warehouse risk mitigation plan includes SOPs to process orders manually, as well as manual inventory and transportation forms to keep your operation running in the event of an unforeseen issue.
With these best practices, you’ll significantly reduce warehouse downtime, and recover quickly when unavoidable downtime occurs.
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