Welcome to our first look of the year at the warehouse, taking in warehousing and logistics for cash & carries and delivered wholesalers, with stories from the leading equipment and services suppliers.

bill-new-greyMultiple grocers like Tesco have been delivering outstanding service levels for years, and with the recent drive into omnichannel and local convenience format stores, they’ve raised their game even further. If Tesco’s proposed takeover of Booker goes ahead and Tesco offer Booker and its depots access to their supply chain, it will be a shot in the arm for the wholesaler, and will raise the game for wholesale chains in general, whose logistics operations have lagged behind the supermarkets because they haven’t needed to deliver the same service levels and speed of replenishment.

Cash & carries and delivered wholesalers’ depots are not cosy places at the best of times, but when there’s frost outside the warehouse area it is seriously exposed. At this time of year the focus is on keeping the elements out and the heat in and lightening the winter gloom for people working there and of course the customers, in the case of cash & carries, with the ideal lighting solution. That’s in addition to all the usual concerns about keeping the warehouse in good working order.

The components of the warehouse needing attention all year round are readily identifiable – racking and shelving, forklift trucks and pallet trucks. Of these, one stands out most of all, the forklifts. The faster your trucks work and the more productive you try to be, the bigger the possible risks become. And so do the consequences.

Forklift trucks need great respect because they are the single biggest safety hazard in a wholesale warehouse, and particularly in a cash & carry depot. Your doors get checked periodically: the racking and shelving are inspected at intervals: lights get changed when they fail. But none of these move at the speed of your forklift trucks, or have the same potential for serious injuries, especially to pedestrian visitors! Whether your forklifts are loading and unloading lorries, moving pallets around or working in racking areas, these activities demand the maximum care and attention from forklift operators and supervisors.

We’ll say it again for sure but you need to take a critical look at the way your staff use forklifts and impose strictly observed speed limits, backed up by clearly visible signage. All staff operating forklifts should be given adequate training by accredited trainers as part of a safe working culture, with particular emphasis on customer care.

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