A warehouse with an overflow of boxes

How To Deal With Warehouse Overflow During COVID-19

September 2, 2020


How can you deal with warehouse overflow?

  1. Properly manage inventory
  2. Designate areas for overflow
  3. Invest in a tracking system
  4. Improve picking processes


Not knowing how to deal with warehouse overflow can make your business exposed to many vulnerabilities. Without proper management, you might find yourself unable to create solutions to make your warehouse more efficient. There are many reasons why warehouse overflowing occurs and it can be attributed to problems in the supply chain.

For example, it’s far too often the case that packages can be left sitting unattended in pallets. Storage systems that are already full in capacity won’t be able to support any more extra weight. Fortunately, there are a range of simple and complex modifications that you can employ to make the job easier for you. Continue reading to learn more.


Properly Manage Inventory

Boxes arriving at a warehouse

Inventory is just one of the many crucial aspects of warehousing and logistics. This is the part of the supply chain that deals with packages, storage, tracking, organization, shipping, and more. More often than not, one can easily trace the root of overflow problems to the warehouse’s inventory. If it’s not functioning as optimally as it should, then you can expect a slew of issues.

With this in mind, you’d want to make sure that your inventory is well-managed. For whatever system you’re using, it’s important that each item in the inventory has been accounted for using a reliable automated system. Parcels that are going in and out of your facility should be immediately reflected in the inventory. On the other hand, making sure that the quantity stored in your inventory is just enough is another critical factor.

Take a look at this situation: you’re ordering stocks of particular merchandise from a supplier. But as the weeks and months pass, you realize only very few of these stocks have exited your facility due to the low demand. Avoiding this situation from taking place is as simple as basing your decisions on real-time data and analytics. Make sure that you place an order for just the right amount of a particular item.


Designate Areas For Overflow

A designated area in a warehouse for overflow

Since not all warehouses are equipped with designated areas for overflowed goods, it’s fairly common to just have these items scattered around. This can be made worse in the absence of an adequate storage system to support stocks of these items.

With objects lying around randomly in your warehouse, you can expect your employees’ productivity to significantly dip. Why? You’ll be greatly diminishing your site’s navigability. The response time between picking up a package and properly storing it in another location can be significantly extended. Though you cannot completely eliminate overflow, what you can do is to determine a fixed location where these goods should be placed.

The overflow location should be spacious and accessible enough for picking and packing processes to remain efficient. As much as possible, you’d want to situate this location away from the other parcels already due for delivery. This is to avoid misplacements and damage that may occur during the sifting process.

Within your overflow storage, it’s also best to implement a system that prioritizes every item. Categorize which products are of high or low-priority and make your decisions based on that. It’s also best that every employee that’s responsible for the inventory be trained on the protocols that would be implemented in the overflow location.


Invest In A Tracking System

A man scanning a package for a tracking system

Outdated inventory management systems typically rely on pen-and-paper modes to determine the status of a particular passage. This is wholly inefficient as it can take a much longer time to locate the necessary information before a transaction is even made. Every warehouse, including yours, would do better to invest in a dedicated tracking system that can meet your overflow mitigation requirements.

If you’ve already automated your tracking process in the past, then maybe you don’t need to conduct a complete overhaul of already-existing practices. Instead, identify certain choke points that you think can still be improved. Maybe there are other ways of speeding up the shelving or racking systems of your warehouse. On the other hand, you might need to organize the way information is inputted into the tracking software.

When your tracking systems have been fully optimized, it won’t be long before you see an improvement in the way overflow situations are dealt with. Dealing with large volumes of returned items would become more convenient — in much the same way, shipping out long-overdue items would become much faster.


Improve Picking Process

A woman picking a box out of a warehouse

End-customers are always expecting their orders to arrive in pristine condition. The most common customer complaints can be attributed to delayed deliveries, damaged goods, or incorrect SKUs. Many of these problems also occur in the warehouse picking stage, where the stock-keeping units are arranged in such a way to fulfill a customer order.

Varying SKUs can often pile up in an overflow situation. This easily creates disorganization in the merchandise picking before the packing stage. If you find that your picking process is slowing down your operations, then it might be time to think about new ways to solve the problem. It’s always useful to constantly experiment with different picking techniques. Maybe it’s time to make use of multi-item picking or something simpler like discrete picking — it’s all up to your existing methods.


Key Takeaway

With the predominance of online shopping over other platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can expect that your warehouse would be operating at a higher capacity. Eventually, you’ll find yourself wondering about how to deal with warehouse overflow by improving your process while at the same time retaining those that still work.

It’s simple, really — all you need is to identify the choke points of your warehouse organization and come up with improvements. Does it have something to do with your picking process? How about your inventory tracking system? Once you have identified these, then your warehouse can easily improve its handling of overflows.

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