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Why Cleaning is More Essential to Your Supply Chain than You Realize

April 10, 2019 8:30 AM by Tennant Company

Posted in Productivity Best Practices

A clean warehouse is more than just one that is free of dust, dirt, grime and other debris. The effort you invest in cleaning can pay big dividends in a wide range of areas. In fact, a well regimented cleaning schedule can not only improve the productivity and collaboration of your employees, it can have a major (and immediate) positive impact all across your supply chain, too.

The Ripple Effect of Cleaning

When a warehouse is clean and organized, employees can move around and utilize the space more efficiently. This makes it far easier for them to do their jobs, which means increased productivity across the board. If it's easier for someone to locate and navigate to the items needed for orders, they'll be able to get a higher volume of orders out the door and on the way to customers more quickly - which has a direct impact on your revenue opportunities.

That concept also makes it easier for your workers to engage with your company, too. Keep in mind that according to The McKinsey Global Institute, productivity tends to improve by between 20 and 25% in organizations with highly engaged, connected employees.

Prioritizing a clean warehouse also helps relieve certain common problems that supervisors and staff may face. Storing things in a very logical and straightforward way gives everyone involved a new level of visibility into where everything is and what is going on. You may even see fewer late orders (or orders that have been lost entirely), both scenarios that would cost you money.

That visibility will continue to prove valuable over the long-term, too. If you have better control over the physical makeup of your inventory, implementing additional improvements like a warehouse management system is far easier. It will also be easier to manage accountability in your supply chain. Chaotic environments can lead to mistakes, so maintaining an orderly space can have a positive impact on accuracy. In a busy fulfillment center, for instance, the cost to send out an order to a customer a second time is usually more than double that of the first - further illustrating how something as seemingly simple as cleaning can have massive implications across the board.

Additional Considerations

But to actually act on this insight, you need to make sure you've selected the appropriate cleaning equipment. There are a number of essential factors you must consider to that end.

Maybe the most immediate of those considerations has to do with the type of floor you're working with. You should always make sure to seal coated surfaces to help prevent stains from spilled liquids, and to keep any dirt particles that may be present in the environment under control. Likewise, square footage will directly impact the type of equipment you should purchase for cleaning your warehouse. Larger machines are typically needed for open, expansive spaces for the sake of efficiency, whereas aisles and smaller spaces will require assets that are far more compact. 

In the end, the efficiency improvements alone are often enough to make regimented cleaning worth the effort for most warehouse management professionals. But when you also consider the fact that you're creating a safer facility for your employees, and that you may reduce errors and logistical issues, it's easy to see why this is the right step to take in your warehouse.

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