Consultants in Logistics

Lockdown Warehouse Closures: Actions to Take Now

Lockdown Warehouse Closures: Actions to Take Now

Does the lockdown extension put your operation at risk of temporary closure? Follow our guide of actions to take now:

The Government has extended the ‘lockdown’ for another 3 weeks. Consequently, we anticipate more B2B warehouses will temporarily close, as demand for non-essential products declines and inbound supplies are disrupted. Whilst UKWA (United Kingdom Warehousing Association) members, surveyed a fortnight ago, reported that only 4% had ceased all warehouse operations, we now expect this percentage to increase before restrictions are lifted.

There is, however, plenty that can be achieved while warehouses are closed, to prepare for re-opening operations and to implement new ways of working in readiness to face the ongoing threat from COVID-19.

To meet their future needs, Davies & Robson recommend that organisations appoint an operational ‘Task Force’ to remain at work and prepare for getting back to business when restrictions start to lift.

Our list of activities is designed to prevent disruption when you get back to business and prepare for the challenges of living with COVID-19:

Inventory Management

  • Perform stock counts now as it may be necessary to dispense with PI checks to ease pressure on the operation when operations resume. Having undertaken a full stock check should help meet audit requirements.
  • Complete ABC analysis of all SKUs; prepare a revised pick-face and bulk stock layout based on product velocities and family groups. Investigate and address redundant stock.
  • Conduct a master data audit; cleanse and update key planning information such as product dimensions, weights, and carton / pallet quantities. Review minimum and maximum pickface levels and replenishment triggers.

Housekeeping / Maintenance

  • Review all equipment maintenance schedules; identify actions due and bring forward any planned servicing and preventative maintenance. 
  • Complete racking inspections; isolate damaged areas and replace or arrange for repairs to be carried out.  Replace damaged or missing location labels. 
  • Act on outstanding building and yard repairs while the weather is fair and high-use areas are easy to access. 
  • Deep clean the warehouse and offices; utilise your existing cleaning contractors if available or do it yourselves. 
  • Repaint floor markings in the warehouse and yard.  Let’s hope there will never be a more convenient time to do so!  

Improvement Activities

  • Upgrade IT systems; update server and PC operating systems, apply WMS / ERP software updates, complete thorough user acceptance testing.
  • Cleanse and archive data (database and office files). Scan documents to be stored digitally. 
  • Act on improvement suggestions, especially where actions have already been approved.  Complete low-cost ‘kaizen burst’ activities to reduce in-process waste such as waiting or over-processing. 
  • Review and amend standard operating procedures, especially where adaptions may be required to get back to business. 
  • Bring forward refresher training where digital training media is available, e.g. code of conduct, health and safety and safe systems of work. 

Prepare For A New Era

Until a vaccination is developed and COVID-19 is eliminated, it is highly likely that we will have to live with this virus for many months to come.  Even if we succeed in eliminating the virus in the UK, as this is a global pandemic and the UK is a trading nation, we are likely to remain under ongoing threat. 

This means organisations will need to protect colleagues and customers, and pay particular attention to shielding the most vulnerable in society, whilst sustaining a profitable operation.

Key tasks include within a warehouse environment include:

  • Continually review the latest information from the Government and World Health Organisation
  • Read our detailed guide to social distancing in the warehouse.  Identify the recommendations that apply to your organisation and act on them. 
  • Complete risk assessments and form a plan to adapt the warehouse environment and operations to comply with the latest guidance. We anticipate that best practise will be to maintain contamination reducing measures even after restrictions on movement and work are eased, to protect colleagues, customers and operational resilience. 
  • In conjunction with customers and suppliers, forecast demand based on best, worst and most likely scenarios. Identify the major influencing factors and monitor these closely. Draft and continually revise fulfilment plans. 
  • Continually scrutinise the financial viability of the draft fulfilment plans.  Take steps to protect margins, for example introduce minimum order quantities, limited product ranges, and/or named-day deliveries. 
  • Develop and revise draft shift and supervisory plans in conjunction with the draft fulfilment plans and adapted warehouse environment and operations. Plan support or redeployment for colleagues who need to be shielded.

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