5 Tips To Maintain A Healthy Warehouse In 2021
Five steps can now be taken by warehouse managers to sustain high working times in the coming year so that they are prepared for the next peak.
The peak holiday season for warehouse staff and equipment can be stressful. In many industries, meeting high demands, automation equipment needs full power, even without routine system maintenance. This tendance to delay maintenance because of high demand was even more prominent in 2020 when many companies saw above-normal demand for prolonged pandemic times.
Now that demand has ebbed, it’s a good time to review the previous year and fix possible vulnerabilities. Five steps can be taken by warehouse managers to maintain high uptime throughout the coming year and to ensure that they are ready for the next peak.
Get back on track with continuous maintenance
The first consideration is always to minimize downtime. Like any mechanical device, material handling systems need routine maintenance to remain highly running and minimize the risk of unexpected failures. Maintenance during peak times is not always realistic, but it is critical that we do not wait too long to come back on time as demand falls to manageable levels. This makes the beginning of the year a perfect time for routine and preventive maintenance.
The same theory applies to software and IT structures. The start of a new year is a perfect time to review IT systems’ health and conduct basic maintenance, for example defragmenting databases and ensuring that the program is up to date with the latest updates. If these activities are an ongoing challenge for your company, the transition to a managed services partnership with your automation provider is also an excellent time.
Managed services can release internal capital by maintaining a complex software framework and supporting IT properties. With Swisslog IT Managed Services, our specialists are responsible for managing all the IT systems and software necessary to ensure optimum output for your equipment. You can customize the support level to the company’s needs with services ranging from patch management to full “black box” infrastructure management with validation of disaster recovery.
Identify ways to unlock value
Although the peak season is still fresh in your mind, take time to evaluate what went well and where changes are possible. Have you had higher incidents than expected in the peak season? Have there been bottlenecks as volumes have increased?
For multi-year systems, it might be time to extend the systems, exploit the modularity of your automation system to add more robots, select stations, or storage space. For new installations, problems which have to do with legacy processes that are not completely integrated with the automation framework. Starting conversations with your automation provider early in the year on these matters will ensure that they are resolved before the next peak season.
Identify essential components and obsolete components
The worst time to find out if you have the right replacement parts is when you use them. That is why the start of the year is a perfect time to review your stock and ensure that you have everything you need when cleaning up dead stocks.
Key components within the automation infrastructure can also be obsolete or outdated. Manufacturers of control systems are actively updating their systems and launching new models to replace existing components. Make sure that your CMMS is modified with new components and that variations can be found between new and alternative components that may need engineering modifications.
Evaluation of emerging technology for maintenance
With technology, maintenance activities continue to change. For example, business intelligence tools may make system maintenance more efficient and productive. The Availability Manager of Swisslog, which forms part of the SynQ Network, measures device availability through various flows, such as a picture or inbound and provides an overview of availability. The Event Planner, which also forms part of SynQ, provides fast and automated troubleshooting warnings to detect events that can lead to downtime early.
Another relatively recent trend is the use of increased facts to support maintenance. On-site engineers can open preconfigured self-service tutorials using special headsets for AR, and receive remote, hands-free guidance and technical support from experts. The use of AR also allows problems to be handled more easily and removes the need for a technician to visit your site. Now is a good time to invest in AR technology and collaborate with your provider to make it easy to use.
With today’s high turnover rates in warehouses, the need for training is constant. Ask your automation provider about the availability of learning management systems that simplify the job of keeping maintenance workers up to date with best practices and new operators.
For warehouse management, battery recharge will start at the beginning of the year, and some essential rest and relaxation can be achieved. For automation systems, it is a time to restore health by upgrading the necessary maintenance and resolving key performance-restricting issues.