Warehousing is big business in its own right.
Indeed, in the US, it’s an industry worth an impressive $22 billion that employs more than 600,000 people. According to the same source, warehouse fulfillment processes contributes another $9 billion and 60,000 employees.
Clearly, warehouses and warehouse workers are ubiquitous in this country.
Of course, not all warehouses are the same. They vary in size, space, functionality and the number of people employed therein.
Yet there are definitely shared characteristics too. For instance, certain equipment is essential to effective operations, regardless of size and function.
Looking for advice on what gear you need to get your warehouse up and running?
Keep reading to discover a complete checklist of essential warehouse supplies and equipment.
Warehouses are full of hazards.
There’s heavy equipment, moving vehicles, inventory stored in high places, and so on. The potential for harm is high. It’s essential that safety precautions are taken in line with regulations. The following safety equipment will help prevent accidents from happening.
Every business needs to prepare for the chance of fire.
The same applies to warehouses. Where machinery is at work, the chance of fire is always there. Be sure to prepare a fire safety protocol and an evacuation procedure. Likewise, have sufficient supply of fire extinguishers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It’s now a legal essential to provide adequate PPE to all employees.
This is a relatively straight forward means of reducing the chance of accidents. High visibility clothing, hard hats, eye goggles, ear muffs, and steel toe-capped boots are all typical examples.
However, the PPE must be appropriate for the particular dangers in the environment. Risk assess the potential dangers and provide PPE accordingly.
Safety barriers come in all shapes and sizes.
But their function remains the same. They’re required to protect warehouse employees and visitors from the various hazards in the environment. They prevent collisions, regulate access to dangerous places and channel people through safe walking routes.
All told, the barriers create a safe space to work within. They provide protection from machinery, forklifts, and delivery vehicles to name a few.
All warehouses need adequate storage capabilities.
Without it, raw materials and products will be left strewn around the space. This is a recipe for inefficient operations, for one. But it’s a safety hazard as well.
The following storage options are all commonly put to use. It’s for you to decide which would best suit your particular needs.
Pallet racks are your classic go-to warehouse shelving option for products stored on pallets.
They’re robust frame-like units with no base to the shelving itself. The absence of base is immaterial given the use of pallets. The dimensions of the pallet extend beyond the frame, ensuring they rest comfortably upon it.
Check out this guide for more on the best pallet racks.
Got stock or materials that wouldn’t fit on standard pallet racks?
Cantilever racks are the answer to your problems. They’re designed to hold longer items, such as wooden beams, metal bars, aluminum extrusions and so on. Likewise, they cater for bulkier options that would be unsuitable for pallets too.
Any oversized, irregularly shapes items tend to suit cantilever racks.
Flow racks lead to easy picking.
Imagine downward sloping racks with roller tracks fixed along the base. Inventory is placed on the higher end and gravity pulls it (helped by the rollers) to the exit aisle at the lower end. Here’s it’s ready to be picked.
This increases speed in the preparation of orders. They’re ideal solutions for warehouses with large picking volumes.
Will your warehouse need to store non-pallet loaded inventory?
Then industrial shelving options will be important. They are exactly like ordinary shelving units. However, they tend to be heavier duty and capable of holding larger loads.
All warehouses are likely to have heavy equipment to transport.
Employees can’t be expected to transport it without necessary lifting equipment. The following are basic lifting tools to own.
Pallet jacks are wheeled devices with two extended prongs and a levered handle at the rear.
The prongs slide through the underside of the pallet. The lever is used to raise the prongs off the ground, lifting the pallet. This can then be easily maneuvered around the warehouse. They’re essential for transporting pallet-stored goods without a forklift.
Forklifts enable easy transportation of heavy pallet-stored goods.
Loads can be lifted on and off pallet racks and moved to new locations as required. A qualified driver is needed to operate them. However, it’s worth the investment. Forklifts serve an essential warehouse function. They minimize the chance of both injury and damage to goods.
Hand trucks enable easier transportation of non-pallet items.
Products are placed onto the bottom metal panel and wheeled from place to place.
Using hand trucks means employees don’t have to carry loads by hand. This speeds the process of transportation and limits the potential for injuries.
Any warehouses that handle the fulfillment process will need packing stations.
The following packaging equipment facilitates this process:
Industrial scales ensure accurate weighing of items ready for shipment.
Stretch wrap machines make it easier to wrap goods in protective stretch wrap. This is important when items are going into storage.
Packing tables provide a solid platform from which to perform fulfillment processes.
Time to Purchase Essential Warehouse Supplies
There you have it: the warehouse supplies and equipment required for your new business.
The United States is a country full of warehouses and warehouse employees. The industry contributes billions of dollars to the US economy and employs hundreds of thousands of people.
Warehouses vary in terms of scale and functionality. However, certain equipment is essential to almost all of them. To lack the necessary supplies is to sacrifice efficiency, risk employee wellbeing, and limit warehouse operations.
Hopefully, this post has highlighted everything you need to get your business’ warehouse up and running.
Like this article? Looking for more business management-related articles? Just search ‘business’ on the blog to get started!