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Identifying Warehouse Waste: a How-To Guide

10.06.2017 | By Todd LaFond | min. read


How do you identify warehouse waste? First, you have to build and maintain reliable inventory data. Second, you have to streamline storage and product flow. Third, you need to focus on warehouse safety. Keep reading to learn more!

Identifying and Eliminating Warehouse Waste

Warehouse waste consists of any material that unnecessarily occupies storage space or results in higher overhead costs.

Warehouse waste can result from:

  • Overproduction
    Making too much product ties up money and warehouse space.
  • Excess Inventory
    I.E., having too much product on site. This can happen if you order too much inventory or if you store products for customers who prefer not to maintain their own inventory.
  • Waiting for Storage
    When your space is full, you can’t add any more inventory. This can happen if you’re waiting for space to be organized or are waiting for products to be palletized before shipping.
  • Unnecessary and Inefficient Movements
    Essentially, this is mismanagement of people during delivery times. If resources are tied up in inefficient processes, and you’re paying for labor, it’s considered warehouse waste.
  • Redundant Transportation
    Waste of motion – for example, unnecessary distance between products or inefficient shipment processing.
  • Re-work
    Duplication of effort, which can result from packaging or invoicing errors, shipping damaged products, etc.
  • Over-processing
    Doing things in a complicated rather than a streamlined fashion. Keep it simple!

Spotting Waste Due to Warehouse Safety Issues

According to OSHA, the fatal injury rate for warehouse workers is higher than the national average for all other industries combined. Inappropriate methods of stacking and moving warehouse products are potential hazards. When accidents occur, people can be hurt, and products can be damaged or destroyed. That means you could lose money on workman’s compensation and damaged product.

OSHA identified the following safety hazards and provided tips on how to avoid issues that cause warehouse waste:

  • Hazard
    Forklifts run off docks, and products fall on employees or break open.
  • Solution
    Operators should stay clear of dock edges, drive slowly on docks, and never engage in horseplay.
  • Hazard
    Forklift injuries, including turnovers, regularly result in employee injuries and even death.
  • Solution
    Ensure operators know and follow safe procedures for putting down and stacking warehouse loads, never exceed five mph, and slow down in congested and slippery surface areas. Workers should also never handle warehouse product loads heavier than the weight capacity of the forklift.
  • Hazard
    Conveyor pinch points can snag workers, which can result in falling products and injured personnel.
  • Solution
    Inspect conveyors regularly, and adequately guard pinch points. Also, devise ways to lock out conveyors and train employees accordingly.
  • Hazard
    Improperly stored warehouse products can fall, which could injure workers and damage product.
  • Solution
    Make sure load stacks are straight and that heavier loads are evenly distributed on lower shelves. Train employees to remove one object at a time, and keep warehouse aisles and passageways clear and in good repair.

Identify and cut down on warehouse waste by following the tips above, implementing good operational practices, and focusing on worker safety.