It’s not just the end of another year, but of another decade, taking us into ‘20s and an exciting age of technological developments. A lot has changed in the past 10 years, and by the time we reach the end of this decade we will probably look back with similar amazement.  In this article we are going to take it one step at a time and look at 2020 warehouse trends and what is in-store for the year ahead.

Use of regional warehouses

Centralised warehousing has many advantages, but as customer demands continue to increase and firms look to stay ahead of competition, reducing delivery times will be close to the top of the agenda. Regional warehouses allow larger companies to deliver items to customers on the same day, removing the need to wait even 24 hours before a product can be delivered. Smaller regional warehouses will become needed here, which will place restrictions on the type of products that can be fast-tracked on a same day delivery, but on key sellers could prove to be vital.

Voice-based technology

It is estimated that it takes a new employee over 60 hours of training to reach full productivity. In an attempt to reduce this time period, some warehouses are looking to migrate from voice-only systems to technology that combines voice picking and screen-directing picking, which can be controlled through mobile devices.

Another method set to be on the increase is task interleaving. This involves tracking the location of employees and data linked to device usage to maximise productivity. Not only will it save on time but allow them to carry out more tasks. Cross-docking is another function that will be on the rise in  the coming years as it will allow warehouses to minimise manual handling of materials.

Carbon footprint reduction

The need for warehouses to reduce their impact on the environment has been a hot topic for a number of years and is set to become even more prominent over the next 12 months. That will drive the introduction of a number of new eco-conscious initiatives, which could be anything from recycling packaging materials to high-efficiency equipment to reduce energy consumption. Other areas of consideration will be things such as optimising use of vehicles by reviewing their associated data and the introduction of biodegradable packaging.

Improved warehouse visibility

The Internet of Things will play an ever more centralised role in the day-to-day activities in many warehouses, linking together various devices used across the supply chain. The information produced will offer invaluable insight right across the business, supporting activities such as order picking and inventory tracking.

RFID technology will be key to enabling this, especially as it is now a far more affordable option for smaller businesses. Due to the plethora of cost-effective options now available on the market, it is expected that a larger number of warehouses will invest in RFID solutions this year than ever before.

The benefits of using the system make it easier to track the location of stock, making for a far more efficient distribution chain. Not only will warehouses look to make full use of RFID technology, but also retailers, logistics companies and manufacturers.

More focus on reverse logistics

It is estimated that as many as 34% of consumers make impulse buys through social media sites, as the platforms make it easier to purchase goods directly. Since May 2019 Instagram users have been able to use the site to shop and checkout via built-in tools. This will mean that the percentage of impulse buys will only increase, which will lead to more returns for a growing number of retailers. Experts predict that a fifth of all returns made by online shoppers will be accounted for by consumers buying via social media.

Labour shortage solutions

With Brexit set in stone and an already tight labour market already in place, firms will have to work smart to overcome the issues that will arise from leaving the EU. In particular, attracting and retaining qualified hourly workforce employees has proven to be a growing problem for some time. The way forward may involve a number of solutions ranging from higher pay to enhancing the training and benefits that are made available. In order for companies to remain competitive and achieve their planned expansion goals, opportunities to improve personal development and specialised training will be key.

Warehouse management systems

The use of warehouse management systems (WMS) and automation will increase through 2020 and beyond, be it through implementation of partially automated conveyors or sorting systems to maintain and improve efficiency. With these relied upon as fundamentals, other supporting technology predicted to be invested in includes AGVs, transport management systems and palletisers. In order to meet the expectations of customers who have access to an ever-growing choice of providers, this is an area that warehouses cannot afford to overlook.

 

 

Push Back Racking

 

Push back racking may be a relatively new storage solution but an increasing amount of companies are beginning to enjoy the benefits they provide to their facilities. This is especially true for organisations that consistently need to store large and/or heavy loads. If you are considering installing push back racking, here are 10 benefits of using the system to help you make a more informed decision.

  1. Larger capacity

The ideal scenario for any storage facility is being able to increase capacity without significantly using up valuable floor space. Push back racking is used by an increasing amount of businesses for that reason, thanks to the unique design that offers more storage space without impacting on layout. They are ideal for items that cannot be stored on racks or pallets for whatever specific reason. It also means less work for the forklift, while also keeping floors and aisles clearer and safer too.

  1. Easier access

The open design of push back racking makes it much easier for forklifts to get to the items they need quickly and effectively. This is because when new products are put in place, the existing items are moved up the incline to create space for a fresh load to arrive. The efficiency this adds to the process is significant, as there is no need to reorganise or remove items to make space. Travel time for the forklift driver is also cut down, speeding up product retrieval.

  1. Improved inventory control

Push back racking allows you to use a ‘last in, first out’ (LIFO) system that also improves inventory control. The ability to rotate stock efficiently means sell-by dates on time sensitive products are not missed and costly losses can be avoided. Every vertical pick is also able to face a different item type or SKU, allowing for great selectivity. This broadens the product type being chosen and prevents the same products being relied on consistently.

  1. Lower maintenance

A key consideration that must be given before the installation of a new storage unit are the levels of repair and maintenance potentially required. Installing push back racking will usually mean less money has to be spent on repairs and maintenance when compared to roller racking. There are no concerns about rollers becoming stuck or products getting trapped in the system. Drive in racking also tends to suffer from a high amount of collision-related repairs – an issue push back racking rarely has to be concerned about.

  1. Diverse compatibility

If you are using a specific pallet dimension this cannot be overlooked when shopping around for a new storage system. The last thing you need after installation is to find the system is not fit for purpose. Another great benefit of push back racking is that it can be configured to suit any number of pallet sizes, given you more flexibility as a business and allowing you to take on a wider range of pallet sizes if required.

  1. Easy installation

Of course, much will depend on the size and overall dimensions of the facility, along with any complexities involved with getting the materials into position. However, in general terms, the installation of push back racking is considered to be relatively straightforward compared to many other storage systems. This results in less interruption to your daily schedule and means the new system can be in place without negatively impacting the business in the short term.

  1. Lower costs

With less floor space being used up to store more items, the business will enjoy more benefits on its bottom line. Less expenditure is required for repairs and maintenance and heavy duty rollers are also not needed. Combined with better performance and reliability, there should be a knock-on effect that tangibly lowers operational costs.

  1. Easy integration

Installing push back racking into your facility doesn’t mean you have to replace all the existing systems you have in place. The adaptability of the system means they can easily co-exist with other styles, which gives you more control over how quickly you introduce them into your processes. You can scale up to suit your requirements, without losing efficiency and impacting on your current procedures.

  1. Better productivity

As pallets automatically reposition themselves within the lane when one is removed, it cuts down the amount of time spent in the picking area. The aim of every business is to constantly improve efficiency and the faster you can retrieve items from the storage area, the faster they can be packed and prepared for dispatch and received by the customer.

  1. Lower risk factor

Because staff members do not have to enter into storage channels to retrieve goods, the risk of accidents occurring is significantly lowered. That also has a positive effect on the bottom line and productivity. Fewer accidents means less time is taken off work, which sustains strong efficiency levels within the facility to maintain high standards for the end customer.

The use of powered mobile shelving continues to grow in businesses across the UK. These unique and innovative solutions bring with them a great number of benefits that improve both the efficiency and the space saving options in almost any working environment. When searching for new storage space it must be able to integrate with your current operations and the dimensions of your workspace. Find out how mobile shelving systems can benefit businesses below.

Placement flexibility

Just because you position a piece of furniture in one place in the office, it doesn’t mean it has to stay there forever. There are a number of reasons why you may need to reconfigure the office space: perhaps you have new staff members joining, or want to maximise the space available, or simply just want to refresh the atmosphere.

Powered mobile shelving can be relocated to a new spot in the workplace or office whenever you need, so you are always in control of the layout. Mobile shelving is a highly adaptable system that can be moved without it becoming unstable or damaged in the process.

Moving to new premises

Every business wants to continue growing and expanding wherever possible. At some point this will hopefully lead to seeking out new, larger premises that will be able to sustain your growth. In-turn you will then have more room to employ extra staff and a workspace that serves as a foundation for your continued success.

When you purchase powered mobile shelving you do not have to leave it behind when you relocate the business. It can be transported and reassembled once you arrive in your new location. This makes it a long-term investment, rather than a short-term stop-gap that only works for your current set-up.

Office partitioning

Open plan offices are becoming more common place, especially in newly constructed buildings. While it has its advantages, it does make it more difficult to separate divisions and teams as you can do with physical walls and partitions. Powered mobile shelving can also be used as a solution in this instance, acting as a divider between work areas, while also providing functional storage space.

For businesses that use in-house sales teams this can be of huge benefit. As they are on the phone throughout the day they tend to create more noise, and mobile shelving works as an acoustic barrier of sorts to absorb and keep the conversations restricted to their area of the office.

Modular shelving system

Not every business can afford to move to a new location, even if their business is undergoing a sustained period of growth. This creates a conundrum of needing to find more space, but not having the funding to support it. Installing powered mobile shelving is a great way to solve this issue.

The systems can be up and running in a very short space of time and enable you to increase your storage space without having to spend a fortune. And because these are modular systems, you can add, or remove, extra parts as and when you need.

Make the most of office space

To become a more efficient business you will want to make the most of the space you have available. Work processes can then become more streamlined and with better organisation comes improved work practises and more successful outcomes.

Using powered mobile shelving means you do not have to dramatically change the layout of the office so it negatively affects important areas. These flexible system remove the need for large access aisles, while increasing storage capacity and maximising the space in your business.

Investing in pallet racking will offer huge benefits for your business. But like any other form of storage system there are some important mistakes that can be avoided before, during and after they are installed. Here are 8 important pallet racking mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Using the wrong design

Picking the wrong pallet racking system for your warehouse will seriously impact the workflow efficiency. Every system offers different benefits and advantages based on the type of product and processes you use. If you are unsure which one to invest in, it pays to take advice from an expert company who can ensure you optimise your spend and get the most from your pallet racking.

  1. Lack of future proofing

When you purchase a pallet racking system you must also consider where the business may be in 5 to 10 years’ time. Your natural aim as a business is to grow and your racking system has to allow room for this to occur. By planning ahead you can accommodate your current needs, while also allowing for expansion plans that won’t limit your throughout or workflow.

  1. Poor structural planning

It’s vitally important you know the exact load requirements needed for your pallet racking system. Either over- or underestimating the load requirements can have a negative impact on the safety and cost implications involved. You should also take into consideration the width and height capabilities of any forklifts you own. If you cannot reach the pallet racking system to load and unload goods, it won’t be of much use to you.

  1. Equipment considerations

Check that the material handling equipment you currently own works with the pallet racking system you intend to purchase. It may mean not having to invest in any new equipment at all. However, if left unchecked, the new system could be installed and left unusable until you spend more money on updating your material handling equipment. Some pallet racking systems do require specialist machines so you should always ask this question at the beginning.

  1. Incorrect usage

Placing too much strain onto a pallet racking system will inevitably lead to it being damaged at some point. All staff members should be aware of its load capacity to avoid this happening. An easy way to do this is to display the load capacity on each shelf. You should also have the racking system audited on an annual basis to ensure the units are safe, not above load capacity, while also featuring clear signage.

  1. Incorrect reporting procedures

When damage is caused to one part of a pallet racking system, it can eventually lead to the entire unit becoming compromised. Staff should be aware of how to report any damage so it can be attended to quickly and efficiently. Regular inspections should also be carried out by a nominated member of staff to check for any damage. When it is spotted, repairs must be conducted right away. If this is not possible, the affected section has to be removed or cordoned off to keep staff safe.

  1. Installing the system yourself

Purchasing and installing a pallet racking system may seem straightforward and a great way to save money but you need to have a strong understanding of what it entails. Qualified installers undergo specific training to ensure the systems they install are structurally safe for anyone who uses it. Non-experts can easily miss a few small pieces of information that are vital to completing the installation safely and successfully. Not only can this be dangerous for staff, but also extremely costly if the system fails and damages good and the units themselves.

  1. Investing in used racking

While you can purchase strong and reliable used racking, you need to ensure the supplier is reputable and the system itself is up to the task at hand. Used racking is a good way to save money but you should find out more about its history and durability before making a purchase. A good supplier will not just let you buy anything. They will offer advice on the best system to use for your operations so your staff and goods remain safe at all times.

Safety in any warehouse facility should be of paramount importance for every business. Cutting corners and not following correct procedures can lead to serious accidents and costly consequences for the company as a whole.

In an environment that has a lot of risks and movement of objects and machinery, staff will only feel secure if they know clear safety guidelines are being used. And it goes without saying that with so much money invested into stock, poor safety also means a higher risk of losing valuable goods.

In this article we go into more detail about how to avoid accidents in the warehouse by following some simple steps.

Pallet Racking Safety Inspections

By law your pallet racking system should be regularly checked for stability and safety. The pallet system will be one of busiest areas in the warehouse on a daily basis, which means it should be thoroughly checked for safety. It must be installed by a qualified and experienced shelving installation company and staff should undergo full training on how to stack and retrieve items correctly.

Falls from high places

Falling from a ladder or platform can lead to serious or even fatal outcomes. Staff must be aware of how to use ladders, not only in terms of going up and down safely, but ensuring they are stable and strong enough to bear the weight. Guardrails are good way of reducing risks as well as consistent training for staff about the shelving units they are working with at height.

Bad posture when lifting

There is a lot of lifting involved for staff in warehouses and while bending over to quickly pick up a heavy object can save time, it can also lead to bad injuries and long layoffs for staff. Not only is this bad news for the individual employee, it also means you are a work person short while still paying out a monthly wage. A back injury can occur straight away or develop over time. All staff should be trained on the correct posture to use when lifting and how to assess a situation to know when it is too heavy to lift by themselves.

Accidents with forklifts

Forklifts are constantly on the move in the warehouse and these large, heavy machines can cause accidents if not driven carefully. Only trained employees should ever be driving a forklift and other members must always be aware of where they are and machinery working around them. Forklift drivers should have regular training to ensure they are aware of the safety guidelines in the warehouse and their responsibilities of using the machinery.

Slips and falls

With so much movement going on in the warehouse, the danger of slipping and falling is quite high. There can be any number of items or debris left lying around, which can to dangerous falls. Make sure staff are aware that walkways should be kept clear and that any spillages need to be cordoned off and cleared up quickly. Good lighting in the warehouse is also essential as it ensures no accidents can occur in areas with poor visibility.

Fire Hazards

To keep the warehouse staff safe in the event of a fire, you should have clearly marked fire exits and locations identified in the facility. Fire extinguishers should be available for small, localised fires and training should be provided so staff know what to do if a fire breaks out. Ensure any exposed wires in the warehouse are fixed and covered, while also paying attention to any spills or leakages that can possibly be flammable. The area must be shut down immediately if something is noticed and the management or fire officer notified straight away.


A video appeared in the news recently that showed one of the worst accidents imaginable taking place within a warehouse. We see a forklift driver travel down a narrow aisle and accidentally brush against one of the racking units. In a matter of seconds, he is buried under a mountain of pallets, products and metal shelving as the three-quarters of the warehouse collapses.

It is not known if the driver was injured or where this warehouse is located. The video which was posted on social media and has had thousands of views and shares and lots of people’s comments.  Many blaming the driver, others blaming the racking.

The fact is that the warehouse was an accident waiting to happen. For such a tragedy to occur the fault can only lie with the company running the warehouse who clearly had not installed the storage system correctly, or conducted any subsequent inspections. Had there been sufficient safety barriers this accident wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened.  Below we cover some of the basic elements you must cover by law to ensure you warehouse meets the required health and safety standards.

Racking legislation

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 state that all pallet racking and shelving must meet the standards it sets out. This also includes carrying out regular inspections to ensure the safety of the people working in the facility.

The latest Health and Safety guide HSG76 also confirms that inspections must be carried out on a frequent basis, ensuring the system is being properly maintained and repaired where needed.

SEMA guidelines

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines recommend that you use a racking supplier who is either a Storage Equipment Manufacturing Association (SEMA) member, or one that rigidly follows their guidance. They regularly update their guidelines every year, so ensure you keep up-to-date with the latest practices as they change.

Rack inspection regularity

While there is no fixed schedule for how often racking should be inspected, each warehouse should assess their requirements based on the following:

  • The dimensions of the racking system being used and the size of the warehouse.
  • How much activity occurs on a daily basis in the storage area.
  • The type of operational equipment being used in the warehouse (forklifts etc.).
  • What sort of ambient conditions are present in the facility.
  • The skill level of the staff employed to work there.

A Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) should be nominated within every warehouse. Their responsibility will be to look at the above factors and then determine how frequently the racking inspections should occur.

At least one racking inspection should take place every 12 months, according to the law. This will require a report to be completed and handed to the PRRS to allow them to address any concerns. While this is the minimum requirement, regular checks should be conducted throughout the course of the year.

Levels of inspection

The HSE racking inspection document lays out a number of different levels of inspection as follows:

Level 1: Immediate reporting

This means any damaged or defective racking must be reported through an established procedure. Any changes to safety procedures must be passed on to staff so they can use the storage systems correctly and safely.

Level 2: Visual inspections

HSE guidelines recommend that racking is inspected weekly, or at regular intervals by the PRRS. After a risk assessment for the site has been completed then an inspection schedule can be organised.

Level 3: Expert inspections

A SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI) must carry out this level of inspection at least once a year. A report must then be passed onto the PRRS and any issue discussed and addressed.

Damage categories

If any damage is discovered during the inspection these are placed into three different categories:

Green Level: The system is safe and in good condition. The load capacity can remain and no immediate repairs are required.

Amber Level: Part of the installation has been damaged and will require attention immediately. Only the damaged section has to be removed and repaired.

Red Risk: Serious damage has occurred which requires immediate action. All racking in the immediate area must be removed. While repairs are ongoing, the racking and affected area must be kept off limits to staff members.

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Pallet racking systems remain some of the most reliable storage systems found in almost any warehouse. They allow for easy access to goods, efficient order fulfilment and acceptable material handling times, serving as the backbone to countless operations around the country.

However, the cost of purchasing and installing a brand new pallet racking system can prove prohibitive to some businesses. This opens up questions about whether you should install a new system, or purchase used pallet racking instead. Here are some tips that can help make your mind up.

Advantages of used pallet racking

For companies working in smaller facilities who need basic components such as beams for vertical storage or upright frames, these can often be purchased for relatively low prices. If you are aware of any warehouses closing down their operations or downsizing, you may be able to get good deals here.

Purchasing used pallet racking also works well as a short term measure if you cannot afford to relocate to a larger premises. This allows you to expand where possible in your current premises without spending too much or eating into your relocation budget.

Before any investment is made on purchasing used pallet racking, always check its condition and enquire about its age. This is important not only for the value you’ll get but also for potential replacements down the line. If the manufacturer no longer produces placements or you cannot source them from any other supplier, this will probably not be a good choice.

Disadvantages of used pallet racking

The most obvious concern when buying used pallet racking is knowing how long it will remain in good working order. You are very unlikely to receive a manufacturer’s warranty as that would have expired under the previous owner. Higher levels of maintenance may be required which could mean spending more money in the long run.

Before spending money on used pallet racking check it will still allow you to meet building and fire regulations. If you are unable to meet the required standard, and the manufacturer is no longer in business, your company may struggle to find a way to resolve this issue.

Used pallet racking won’t be designed to fit specifically into your operations or warehouse space. New racking allows you to identify exactly what you need to optimise your supply chain. Your buying options are smaller with used pallet racking, which could negatively impact your work processes.

Buying new pallet racking systems

Investing in new pallet racking will allow you to easily expand to meet your growing operations in years to come. Any repairs or maintenance required can also be handled by the supplier quickly and effectively. This gives you peace of mind that issues can be resolved promptly without affecting your daily throughput.

You will also get a brand new warranty with a new racking system. This will save money should anything go wrong as replacements can be quickly sourced and installed. The extra you pay for a new pallet racking system upfront will invariably save you a lot more money in the long run.

Safety in the warehouse is always of paramount importance. New racking will be clearly labelled with maximum weight thresholds and can even be properly installed by the supplier. This will help avoid any safety issues so workers are completely safe while using it every day.

Lastly, a new pallet racking system can be designed and customised exactly to the specifications of your warehouse, if required. It ensures you get the best use out of the space available to you. This is particularly important for businesses who want to consolidate without having to spend more money on moving to a larger facility.

Whether you are opening your first warehouse, or moving to a larger facility, finding the right racking system will be crucial to its success. Get it wrong and it can create all sorts of issues that affect the success of your operations.

Below we have outlined the most important criteria to pay attention to when selecting racking systems, so all of the key areas are covered.

Find the right budget

Not only do you have to consider the cost of the racking but also how much needs to be spent on installing it. It’s easy to be tempted by cheap prices but it needs to meet your requirements and last for years to come. Weight up all the pros and cons of the systems you are looking at rather than just the price.

Understand your storage needs

Certain types of racking systems are designed for use with particular types of product. Pallet racking systems will only hold pallets, while cantilever systems are suited for long, slim items. Look at the products you will be storing and search for racking that maximises space and is easy to use.

Think ahead

Every business aims to continue growing and expanding their operations. The racking system you buy today may not be suitable for your needs in 12-24 months. Keep this in mind while shopping around. Investing in modular racking systems will make it easier to expand in line with the growth of your business. This will allow you to react quickly to the higher demands being placed on your supply chain.

Maximise vertical space

Many warehouse operators think to expand outwards rather than upwards. Misuse of the space can lead to wasted time, energy and money. But installing systems such as high bay racking will allow you make the most of the vertical space in your facility. Rather than taking up valuable floor space with more racking, using the height of the building is one of the smartest investments you can make.

Utilise the floor room

No matter how large or small your storage space, the key to running an efficient warehouse operation is maximising what you have available. A balance has to be struck between the type of racking you need, the available floor space and how it will be accessed. One particular type of racking may not help you get the most out of the available space. Using a combination based on your products could increase the capacity by quite some distance.

Reconfiguration

It’s very rare that a business remains static, especially when it comes to the products being manufactured and stored. This means you will want a racking system that is responsive and can be adjusted where required. New packaging, or the discontinuation of product lines, usually mean the racking systems have to be altered in accordance. Some are easier to change than others, so consider this before making an investment.

Ease of installation

Many racking suppliers will also provide an installation service which most businesses tend to use. The costs involved with this must be factored into the budget. However, if you plan on assembling and installing the racking system yourself, get a clear idea on the task involved in doing so. Some systems, such as cantilever racking, is relatively quick and easy to assemble. But most racking requires specialist training and equipment to install them. Rather than cut corners, paying for them to be installed correctly could save a lot of problems in the long run.

Durability

Once installed, the racking system will pick up knocks and scrapes from other equipment such as pallet trucks, forklifts and pallets. It needs to be able to stand up to the daily routine of a warehouse environment to ensure you aren’t constantly paying out for repairs to damages that a robust system wouldn’t experience.

Accessibility

Products need to be stored well but it also has to be easy to access so the throughput can remain efficient, goods can be rotated and stock levels can be easily replenished. Access to the racking system is a fundamental part of any warehouse design. If the movement of stock is not as efficient as it could be, in most cases it will be because not enough access space has been provided.

Cloud ERP Software is software stored on the internet also known as the cloud. Users access the software via the internet. All of the processing power, memory, and data is server side (stored on the internet) at dedicated data centers. Cloud-based computing is also called Software as a Service, or SaaS and offers access to business-critical applications at any time from any location. The main difference between Cloud ERP and on-premises ERP is where the software is psychically located.

Small to medium sized businesses (SME’s) can benefit from Cloud ERP software as it enables them to quickly scale their business productivity at a lower cost. Cloud applications are flexible enough to adapt to any businesses changing goals. By finding the right cloud provider, businesses can access applications at a reasonable fixed monthly price without a substantial upfront expenditure for hardware and software.

Reverse logistics is the optimisation of the flow of returned goods. This includes commercial returns whether faulty or simply goods that do not meet expectations, returns where products need repairing and overstock returns from retail and distributors.

With the rise in ecommerce and the variety of ways and reasons in which products can be returned it is more difficult to organise and plan manageable routes of return. There needs to be procedures implemented that make management of reverse logistics much easier.

Today reverse logistics is playing a larger role in the supply chain of a successful business. With so many routes to market increasing all the time and with the mass personalisation of products and services, business owners are looking for ways to create more efficient and streamlined reverse logistics operations.

2H Storage Solutions are warehouse and distribution experts and can help you find the right reverse logistic strategy for your business. Give our team a call today on 01937 585057