It’s Time for Manufacturers to Prepare for the Holiday Season
Yes, it’s that time again. The holiday season is around the corner and it is time for manufacturers to start preparing now.
Most holiday sales will come from online shopping, adding stress to supply chains and the warehousing industry. With proper management, it’s possible to plan to sustain efficient operations despite volume increases and demand.
Managers can analyze the warehouse itself and equip employees and equipment with the necessary tools to make it through the season. What techniques work and what should warehouse managers prioritize among their already lengthy to-do lists?
Preparing Warehouses for Increased Inventory
It’s time to walk the warehouse and analyze the state of everything. Is it already almost bursting with regular inventory, or is there clutter in the walkways? How much space could the warehouse reappropriate for enhanced storage solutions? What maintenance should be conducted to help bear the load of surplus inventory, spatially and financially?
Work with your logistics team on this walkthrough, which should happen long before the holidays hit, to allocate enough time to make renovations or install new structures. Rethinking the floor plan can reveal space optimizations and efficiency modifications, such as more efficient routes for workers and automated machines to pack expediently.
Countless systems and programs can help automate and streamline previously complicated inquiries and tasks, including:
- Implementing scheduling software to help employees trade shifts or sign up for overtime.
- Setting up cameras and other monitoring systems to check everything from maintenance to productivity.
- Choosing the optimal warehouse management system to keep tabs on inventory.
- Collaborating with relevant members of the supply chain with cloud-based blockchain tech, keeping communications open in case of delays or changes.
Your tech stack – the tech that synergizes to make your company run seamlessly – should receive adequate maintenance to ensure technology isn’t the reason for outages or stops in production. Suppose your warehouse does not have any or just a few of these technologies. In that case, this may be a time to invest, because they are long-term solutions that will continually provide benefits outside of the holiday season.
This is the prime time to reflect on the strategies that worked in the previous holiday seasons and what could be improved. Interview the workers to gather perspectives from those who were in the fray last time inventory demand was at its peak.
Readying Workers for Increased Demand
The topmost priority is ensuring the warehouse has enough staff to handle the holidays. It’s helpful to analyze analytics and demand forecasts from the past to make accurate assessments of staffing needs. This will ensure incoming and tenured staff feels supported by the company if they know management gives proper attention to employee well-being and workload distribution.
This doesn’t only include floor staff – extra hands in payroll and human resources to help with scheduling will probably be necessary. They must be equipped with the right resources to adjust for fluctuating employee numbers throughout the holiday season.
Do not resort to increasing hours to adjust for long days, as this will cause turnover and burnout, potentially leaving the success of your holiday season – and after – in jeopardy. It’s vital to prioritize retention during this time, as seasoned staff members can assist with helping seasonal entrants acclimate more quickly to the working environment.
Providing training beforehand will instill accurate expectations for work hours – which could extend past the holiday season due to potential returns – and holiday wages.
On top of having adequate staff is training existing and upcoming staff to mentally and physically prepare them for volume. This combines with informing staff of any changes made to the warehouse, including program updates and organizational shifts that will help efficiency. For mental preparation, ensure employees have access to resources to manage stress to help keep productivity level.
Equipping Shipping Fleets for Holiday Weather and Traffic
Safety is paramount when it comes to holiday shipping. Fleets must be ready to take on the climate shifts in the region while making deliveries on time.
There are plenty of ways to ensure the warehouse’s fleet can withstand holiday conditions. Vehicle maintenance will not only save money by keeping vehicles healthier, longer, but also save on potential injuries in the workplace by keeping employees safer. With hundreds of thousands of fleet vehicles preparing to travel for peak season, it’s also about keeping everyone else on the road safe.
Checking brake pads, tires, and windshield wipers are inexpensive and basic improvements on top of more complex modifications like stronger batteries.
Provide employees with training to know what precautions to take on the road. They must receive as much training as warehouse staff to communicate about and acclimate to unexpected holiday situations. Are they aware of alternate travel routes or how to react in a severe storm?
Warehouses must prep the fleet with insurance and real-time locating system (RTLS) technologies. Especially since the holidays provide the most intensive time crunch of the year, knowing how well your current shipping system is meeting expectations can help you make adjustments along the way to improve efficiency.
It also provides the warehouse and customers with peace of mind, knowing their packages will safely make it to their houses.
Warehouses Prepare for the Holiday Season
Though the holidays can feel overwhelming for anyone in consumer industries, it’s possible to deal with the work gracefully. These timeless strategies allow warehouse managers to find improvements and discover the tactics that genuinely make a difference.
Making necessary adjustments to your warehouses, training employees, and creating safe shipping environments will also reinforce strategies to use in subsequent seasons.
* This article is written by Devin Partida. Devin is a tech writer with an interest in the IIoT and manufacturing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.