Welcome to our quarterly Back of Store feature. The average grocery shopper usually doesn’t see the back of store area during their visit. It’s a part of their local supermarket, Co-op or convenience store chain that consumers take for granted, generally speaking. But for multiple retailers this is a part of the business that keeps the store operation going all year round and needs to be kept in good shape.

bill-new-greyTake the time before the pre- Christmas rush to check your essential warehouse equipment is right for your needs, including warehouse IT, warehouse trucks and racking and shelving. Does your warehouse management system do everything it should?

Have you reviewed your voice picking system? Are your hand held barcode scanners and other devices up to scratch? These are all items of kit that you need to review at regular intervals.

The next priority is your materials handling equipment (MHE). Staff members need to be made aware of HSE regulations about manual handling, and the proper equipment used as appropriate. Warehouse trucks have regular service intervals, which must be adhered to. You should also take time now to assess whether you need more warehouse trucks, from pedestrian pallet trucks through to larger machines.

And what about related equipment such as batteries and battery changers? Assess your training requirements for your forklift operators. Are they all fully trained? Do your supervisors need refresher courses?

In the balmy days of summer, warehouse doors and loading bay areas don’t have to withstand the cold and rain in the same way they have to in the colder months. So it is easy for store managers to get complacent about them at this time of year. But in fact now is the right time to be maintaining and refurbishing them, before the Christmas rush.

Before the gloomy months of autumn and winter, take the opportunity while the lighter days are here to review your warehouse lighting. Lighting systems are often installed and then forgotten about until they go wrong and someone has to fix it. Most of the time the ‘fix’ is likely to be simply replacing a defective unit: lighting systems can remain in place as installed for many years. In the case of older grocery stores, the lighting needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. For workers of all ages, poor quality lighting causes eyestrain and errors and results in poor productivity. On top of that our population is ageing and older people are becoming more numerous in the workforce, with visual acuity reducing with age. Stand by for our next Back of Store feature in November.

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