Warehouse management is a balance of activities that begins from the moment goods arrive until they’re issued out.
Several crucial tasks control the operations within a warehouse. They revolve mostly around materials and assets on one hand, and employee management and maintenance oversight on the other.
Although such tasks have been performed manually in the past, these days most if not all are automated. This has become possible through the use of technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), standalone warehouse management system (WMS) software, and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS).
Let’s look at CMMS specifically, and consider how it improves various aspects of warehouse management, resulting in smoother and more efficient processes.
CMMS yields two major benefits in maintaining warehouse equipment: reduction in equipment downtime, and prolonged asset lifespan.
The inconvenience of equipment downtime is evident in the many processes that are disrupted every time there’s an unplanned shutdown. There are several reasons why a machine would fail, but in this context let’s assume it’s due to delayed maintenance.
Imagine that a forklift has shut down unexpectedly, causing packing activities to ground to a halt. Immediate repair is the priority, but the situation is aggravated by the unavailability of spare parts. Corporate managers estimate that problems with forklift maintenance can cost a facility thousands of dollars per minute.
CMMS can eliminate this problem by generating low-spare-parts alerts, recording equipment repair history, and even tracking asset condition trends if the facility were to implement condition-based maintenance. The result is reduced downtime, prolonged asset lifespans and monetary savings.
Warehouses can achieve higher efficiency by automating the collation, organization and distribution of relevant information from one central location. (The CMMS can be accessed from anywhere, as long as there is internet connectivity.) Managers can attend to issues at the warehouse and make informed decisions without being physically present. In addition, a mobile-enabled CMMS can boost communication among staff, who can check the status of work orders, monitor the progress of repairs, and receive alerts on the go.
Spare Parts Management
CMMS allows for better control of the entire process of spare parts procurement, from vendor management to purchasing, stocking and issuing of parts. It provides a concise picture of what’s happening with all kinds of replaceable components. It helps managers to generate purchase requests, track specific information about items, note their location in real time, and monitor storeroom levels.
Because CMMS tracks data over time, it enables insights that form the basis for short- and long-term stock planning. By identifying a pattern of parts consumption over time, it helps to prevent situations where, for example, a component is needed for an urgent repair but is out of stock. The system issues alerts when parts-inventory stock falls below predefined thresholds.
CMMS is a cloud-based system, allowing all users to access the same information no matter where they’re located. As a result, they can more easily coordinate maintenance activities that are dependent on the availability of a particular spare part.
When it comes to effective equipment maintenance, the best bet is to take a proactive approach.
There are a number of proactive maintenance strategies to choose from today, with preventive and predictive maintenance being the most dominant. In all cases, a CMMS eliminates the need to spend time manually plotting and scheduling maintenance activities. Attempting to manage maintenance manually in a large, modern-day warehouse is a surefire recipe for chaos. Activities will clash, important tasks will be overlooked, and downtime will increase as the maintenance team struggles to address one emergency after the other.
Warehouse owners face strict requirements for routine regulatory inspections, as well as safety and compliance audits. (That’s especially the case for the food and health sectors.) OSHA maintains stringent safety regulations and guidelines for warehouses. The most common audits are for quality assurance, meter readings, safety and hazard inspections.
CMMS software can be used to create, schedule, perform, and record a wide variety of inspections. The records also serve as evidence of compliance, because of the system’s ability to upload related documents such as checklists, images, and step-by-step procedures to validate that interventions were correctly executed.
When all is said and done, warehouse management is a demanding venture with little tolerance for mistakes and inefficiencies. Instead of wasting valuable time trying to manage everything manually, consider a tool like CMMS to keep chaos at bay. It will help to eliminate many warehouse-management headaches.
Bryan Christiansen is founder and CEO of Limble CMMS.