One of the largest threats to a warehouse business is downtime. Proper planning and prevention can help your warehouse or distribution center reduce annual downtime and improve overall operations with added efficiency. 

Before we get into the ways you can reduce warehouse downtime, let’s define what it is. Downtime is any unplanned event that prevents your business from producing or shipping normally. Some causes of downtime include errors in hardware or software, operator error, or failure of a key asset due to poor maintenance.

Some cases of downtime are planned for upgrades, which makes this time not count toward downtime costs or operational losses in the same way as unplanned downtime.

Source: Finances Online, 2020


Here are the ways you can avoid unplanned downtime in your warehouse or distribution center to minimize costs and maximize efficiency:

  1. Begin tracking and reporting downtime causes

To fully understand your downtime and what’s causing it, you need to start documenting what is happening. Data can tell you a clearer story than going off of memory. When your warehouse experiences downtime, record the cause, how long your facility is down, and any circumstances that led up to the incident. Armed with this information, you can begin to work toward preventing such an incident again.

  1. Eliminate human error through automation

Human error accounts for a great deal of warehouse downtime. Manual sorting and packing can cause issues. Instead, automate these processes for added efficiency and fewer errors. The cost of implementing such a process could be enormous. That’s why you’ll need to track your downtime and what it costs your business to prove the business case for making this change. 

  1. Improve workflows

Most warehouses are enormous, which means going from one end to the other could consume large amounts of time for your staff. Consider reviewing your warehouse setup to place similar items together and centralize workstations. Wireless handheld devices can help improve inventory management and maximize your time.

  1. Update employee training processes

Your staff needs proper training to work efficiently. If you’re not devoting time to training, it could be costing you a lot of money. Take the time to review your employee training manual and process. Ensure you’re devoting enough time to training before having new team members work independently. Throughout their first several months, have regular check-ins and test their effectiveness of using the various tools required for their job function. This will reduce human error downtime and ensure your warehouse operates efficiently.

  1. Incentivize your management team

Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on downtime, spend tens of thousands of dollars on management incentives. Set benchmarks for reduced downtime each quarter. And when your team meets those benchmarks, provide a bonus. This will motivate your staff to work effectively and efficiently to maximize your bottom line.

  1. Create an effective preventative maintenance schedule

When your team is working hard to complete their daily activities, it’s easy to neglect preventative maintenance. However, an effective maintenance schedule can help you plan your downtime around slower times in your warehouse. And scheduled downtime tends to take less time than unplanned because it removes the time to assess the problem.

Managing preventative maintenance is automated when you use a computerized maintenance management solution (CMMS). Artificial intelligence helps your maintenance team know when to make updates and avoid costly downtime at your facility.

Call Eagle at 262-241-3845, or send us an email or schedule a demo to see how the tool could help you.