I’m sure most of us have been told by our parents, grandparents, or even bosses to “work with the tools you have, not the tools you want.” While this is sound practical advice to encourage us to persevere through difficult tasks and deliver results in spite of limited resources, there are tools and equipment that are essential to work safely and efficiently. When it comes to warehousing, safe and efficient work often requires specific equipment. The equipment may vary slightly depending on what industry your warehouse is involved in, but there are five pieces of equipment that every warehouse should have.
A Stretch Wrap Pole
Warehouses often need to put cartons on a pallet to move inventory around the warehouse floor or to ship it out on a truck. Unfortunately, no matter how perfectly a pallet is built, no matter how carefully it is moved, there is a substantial risk of the stack toppling over. To help avoid this, it is vital to wrap loaded pallets with plastic stretch wrap.
A major reason for wrapping pallets is to enhance load stability. A pallet that has been wrapped is less likely to collapse and cause injury to workers or damage to inventory. This is a very important part of the palletization process and there are a few different ways to do this manually. The way most warehouses do this is to simply grip both ends of the stretch wrap roll and go round and round the pallet. If all else fails, you can fall back to this method. This method however, risks hand and back injury, and lacks efficiency.
An essential piece of equipment that every warehouse should have on hand to combat this problem is a stretch wrap application tool. There are a few handheld options, but the best kind of application tool is the long pole-type. It is an essential piece of equipment because it reduces workers’ injury risk while also making manual pallet wrapping a more efficient process.
Pallet Jack (or pallet truck)
So you have wrapped your newly built pallet with a handy stretch wrap pole, how do you move that pallet to where it needs to be? Palletized inventory can easily weigh hundreds of pounds. The only real option here is to use the second essential piece of equipment every warehouse should have: a pallet jack. Also called a “pallet truck,” this equipment operates on a basic level by sliding the forks under slots on one side of the pallet. Then the operator uses the handle to lift the pallet (kind of like an old water pump handle). Once raised off the floor, the operator can easily pull the pallet to its new destination.
Plastic Organization Bins
An organized warehouse is a safe and efficient warehouse. There just is not any way to run a warehouse well without good organization. Systems, processes, and routines all contribute to maintaining an organized warehouse. But, something essential that every warehouse should have are simple plastic bins to store various supplies on shelves. These bins are often colored blue, yellow, green, or black and come in various sizes. This is essential equipment to keep hand tools, box cutters, tape, and other supplies in designated locations so that staff know exactly where to get the materials they need to work.
It is a good idea to label these bins according to what they contain to maximize their usefulness.
First Aid Kits
Even while following best practices when safety is concerned, accidents may happen. Injuries can and do occur. So, an essential piece of equipment that every warehouse needs is a first aid kit. Depending on the size and layout of your warehouse, it’s a good idea to keep at least two first aid kits on the warehouse floor in clearly marked locations that all staff can identify in case of emergencies. A basic first aid kit should include items such as an assortment of adhesive bandages, rubbing alcohol pads, medical tape, and gauze. Well-stocked first aid kits should also include common over-the-counter medications for pain relief. An unused first aid kit is better to keep around than to not have one when you need it. Always be prepared!
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
An important part of preventing injuries in the first place is to have appropriate personal protective equipment suitable for each person’s role in your warehouse. Commonly referred to as PPE, personal protective equipment is essential to have on site at any warehouse operation. There is a wide range of PPE available for all industry types, but most warehouses would need to rely on PPE that guards against physical hazards.
For light warehouse duties, simple work gloves (either disposable or reusable) with a nitrile coating will protect workers’ hands from minor abrasions and cuts. These light duty work gloves preserve hand dexterity by being made from flexible material and the nitrile coating on the palm and fingers provides grip support.
Another necessary item of PPE is a high visibility vest (or hi-vis vest). Such vests are typically brightly colored orange or yellow and made of reflective material. These vests do exactly what the name says: a wearer is going to be highly visible, even in low-light conditions. These vests signal to others that there is a worker present, so proceed with caution. You can see workers wearing these vests everyday while repairing roads or doing general construction.
In a warehouse, these vests should be worn by all workers operating powered industrial trucks (PIT) such as a forklift, as well as workers who are in loading and unloading areas with high truck traffic.
Of course you can provide all of these essential pieces of equipment to your warehouse, but that is no substitute for appropriate training to use the equipment. All staff should be trained on safe and effective use of the equipment they will need to use to perform their job to the best of their abilities.