The overall warehousing needs of a humanitarian organization organisation are generally specific to the needs of individual response activities and the overall objectives of the organization organisation itself. Organizations Organisations that deal with large volumes of non-perishable goods may need to have multiple warehouses in multiple locations, while organizations organisations that focus on targeted specialty special interventions – such as psychosocial programming – may have very limited need for a detailed warehousing strategy and may choose to procure and deliver directly from vendors as required by the project. Beyond just anticipated volumes of goods, specialty special storage needs will also dictate a warehousing strategy; managing medical commodities requires far more detailed stock management and possibly specialized specialised storage conditions, while durable non-food items (NFIs) may hardly need anything more than basic protection from the elements.
Many international humanitarian response organizations organisations have adopted a strategy of pre-positioning relief supplies in large warehouses not located in the countries of response operation, usually located in one or more strategic regional locations. The development of regional warehouses as lead to a general reduction in time required to respond to rapid-onset emergencies, as well as promotes a more reliable and consistent supply of physical relief items for countries of operation located around the region served by the warehouse.
An international or regional warehouse serves as consolidation point for items as they are received from vendors, donors or partners, enabling humanitarian response organizations organisations to inspect, kit, segregate, repackage, or otherwise prepare cargo for further onward movement. In doing so, regional and international warehouses function as both pre-positioning facilities – holding cargo in case of a rapid unforeseen emergency – and as a feeder facilities – warehouses that slowly resupply warehouses further down the supply chain.
- Readily available access to a high volume of intermodal international transport – Is the warehouse near seaports and airports of sufficient size and throughput capacity?
- Relative location to the area of response – Does the region have sufficient response activities and does the location match the overall area of planned intervention?
- The nature of planned interventions – Will the warehouse serve rapid response activities? Or will the warehouse only feed into longer ongoing activities?
- Political climate of the country – Is the government of the country in which the regional warehouse located stable and not prone to conflict, ouster or drastically changing policies?
- Economic feasibility – Is operating in the country cost effective? Are there incentives such as free trade zones or humanitarian exemptions that reduce costs of international operations?
- Access the correct amenities – Does the location have facilities of the right size and quality required? Is there need for climate controlled or bonded storage?
- Access to sufficient technical support – Are there skilled labourers/companies readily available on the market who can manage and conduct specialty special tasks like repairs?
Any of the above mentioned points can have adverse effects on the ability of a regional warehouse to perform its core functions.
Regional/international warehouses can be purpose built or purpose designed facilities operated by permanent staff that has been trained in all the areas necessary to run an efficient facility, or stock can be held utilising some version of a third-party logistics provider (3PL) staff and facilities. Ideally, any regional or international warehouse would use computer-based inventory management tools, with software to help in the planning and management of the warehouse. The operating environment of a primary regional or international warehouse used for pre-positioning should typically be relatively stable, and overall attention focused on the efficient and cost-effective warehouse operation. Numerous organizations organisations have centralized centralised pre-positioning facilities strategically located globally. Some of these offer extended services to other humanitarian organizations organisations on a cost-plus operating charges basis, such as the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) Network.
The need and number of warehouses required in an area of response depends on volume and type of activities undertaken and locations of operation. Many response organizations organisations prefer to keep at least one central warehouse in a country or area of response.
A central warehouse in the area of response is typically in either the capital city of the country of response, or in a major commercial hub within the country of response with sufficient infrastructure. The ultimate location of the central warehouse can be anywhere, insofar as it meets the needs of the organization organisation and the response objectives. In large areas of response, or in large activities, organizations organisations may want a large warehouse in more than one location. The general position of a large central warehouse usually includes its relative proximity to sea and airports, manufacturing facilities, highly skilled or specialized specialised labour or services, and readily available in-country transport services. Central warehouses can be directly managed by the agency, including staffing, rent and security, however in contexts with sufficient commercial activities, a central warehouse may be contracted out to a third-party provider.
The central warehouse serves as the primary reception point for goods flowing into a country, as well as a consolidation point for goods purchased locally. The size of a central warehouse depends on the anticipated volumes of goods themselves, the expected throughput of cargo, and the ancillary activities such as kitting that may occur on site. The overall purpose of a centralized centralised warehouse strategy would be to provide sufficient and controlled flow of relief items to more remote or harder to access locations, keeping enough on hand to meet demand at all times. Some organizations organisations may wish to forego a central warehouse strategy all together in lieu of arranging direct deliveries from vendors or international ports of entry to field warehouses or beneficiary distribution sites.
Field level warehouses are another strategy many response organizations organisations have adopted. A field level warehouse is usually towards the end of the supply chain, near the last point of distribution to the beneficiary. Field warehouses can come in a variety of formats, ranging from tents and mobile soft sided structures to small hard sided structures. Some field warehouses might be just as large as a central facility depending on need; what defines a field facility is its proximity to programmatic activities and its role as the last stop en route to beneficiaries.
Field level warehouses usually do not have same level of built up infrastructure as central or international warehouses. Storage conditions at the field level are usually limited at best, and significant improvement might be required for specialty special storage such as temperature-controlled requirements. Security in field level warehouses is also a primary concern, and additional infrastructure such as built up fences and additional guard services may be required. Cargo will likely be moved and stacked by hand with limited storage equipment such as shelving available.
- In and out charges per pallet or cubic meter.
- Storage rate per day/week/month, charged per pallet position occupied or cubic meter.
- Packaging and labeling labelling fees.
- Offloading/Loading charges per vehicle.
- Monthly/annual security and insurance charges.
Buying into a warehouse arrangement – especially one managed by a large international company is a good way of increasing covered storage space quickly, and is useful for storage sites in regional or international settings where permanent employees of the respective aid agencies are not based. Commercial warehouse solutions tend to only be useful in more developed contexts, or areas not prone to civil unrest. Commercial warehouse providers are also not humanitarians by nature, and may engage in activities that humanitarian organizations organisations disagree with, such as support to military activities. Each of these factors will need to be considered by agencies entering a commercial option.
Government or State Facilities – Government or state-run facilities include any storage situation in which a state or acting agent on behalf of as state manages part or all of a storage facility. Storage in customs facilities at ports, harbours, airports, and cross border transit depots will be government managed or run, and humanitarian cargo passing through such storage facilities is quite common. Some humanitarian organizations organisations may choose to partner with local and national governments in non-customs or security settings, utilizing utilising government storage and/or augmenting government capacity through equipment and training. When partnering with governments, agencies must balance the anticipated capacities of the government in question as well as the need for impartiality and neutrality. Such decisions are entirely up to the mandates and tolerance thresholds of the individual agencies who may choose to do so.
When planning a new warehouse space, organizations organisations should consider what the anticipated cargo needs will be. Cargo needs will at least include the maximum anticipated volume at any given time, however they should also factor for special handling requirements or special activities, such as kitting. Understanding the full scope of the warehouse may require consultations between program and logistics personnel, and a mapping of programmatic activities over the coming period of time. Even a relatively small volume of cargo may require a large area in which to operate.
The individual volume needs of different organizations organisations can vary. A generic list of volumes per common relief item can be found in the below table:
Irregular Shapes - Some irregular items, such as mechanical or farm equipment may have complex physical attributes that make space planning hard. When looking at highly irregular shapes, planners should consider the outside measurement of only the longest, widest and tallest parts of the item, as those are the parts that will come in contact with other stored items in a warehouse. To do this, planers should imagine an invisible box that is barely large enough to fit the irregular item, and use the “edges” of the “box” to calculate the total required space. In this way, the overall space requirement may actually be larger than they first appear.
Nested Cargo – Some cargo items can be neatly “nested,” meaning that they can rest inside of or occupy space inside of each other. Buckets – a common humanitarian item – can fit inside one another, taking up considerably less space when stored appropriately. When planning space, organizations organisations should account for nested storage by measuring the outer dimensions of the items while stacked/nested, and not the outer dimensions of the individual unit. In this way, overall space requirement may actually be less than they first appear.
Once the anticipated project and volume needs are established, organizations organisations planning storage should review and assess the physical aspects and amenities associated with a potential storage space. Though there may be enough interior space to accommodate purely volumetric calculation, warehouses and storage sites may be lacking key infrastructure, or require substantial improvement to meet operational needs. A non-comprehensive list of physical space needs might include:
- Location/Building has access to basic unities - electricity, water, communications.
- Location has bathroom facilities on site.
- If required, the storage space has separated compartments for different storage areas/different storage needs – climate controlled, secured areas, etc.
- A usable office space of appropriate size.
- The capacity to refuel trucks – does the site have existing refueling refuelling tanks, or do tanks need to be installed.
- Proposed site location is near the primary areas of intended use.
- If in a capital city, consider the need for the warehouse to be near the airport/seaport.
- If in a field setting, consider the need for the warehouse to near the intended distribution sites.
- Proposed storage site is near major arterial roads used for transport.
- Proposed location as easy access to transporters and casual laborlabour.
- Storage facility will be easily accessed by organization organisation personnel.
Safety and Security
Overall safety concerns should be included in planned warehouse and storage space. Safety measures might include the physical components of a warehouse, but also the prevailing security surrounding the proposed location. When considering safety needs of a proposed site, organizations organisations should also include security personnel in the planning process.
Once a warehouse or storage location has been selected meeting the needs of the humanitarian organizationorganisation, and the overall response plan, and the facility has been fully restored or renovated to match the storage requirements, agencies will have the opportunity to design the physical layout of the warehouse space and any associated MHE or storage aids. It is important to understand the basics of a warehouse layout upfront to avoid problems later.
Warehouses ideally follow the 70/30 rule – around 70% of the floor space of a warehouse will typically be used for storage of physical cargo, while around 30% will be open space for movement and work. The percentages are of used floor space are only guidelines, and space utilization utilisation can be slightly more as needed. A warehouse should never be so full that cargo cannot be accessed, or persons cannot walk around safely inside. All cargo storage should be clearly visible and easy to navigate, and any person in a warehouse should be able to quickly identify locations of items and conduct piece counts with minimum effort.
Warehouses are usually arranged in easy to navigate grid like patterns, with “lanes,” “aisles,” and “rows” - open spaces between racks, rows and stacks of items that enable the free flow of people cargo and MHE. The width of aisles and rows depends on context; lanes in small storage facilities utilizing utilising ground stacking and no MHE should be .5 – 1 meter wide to enable access to human movement, while lanes in a large warehouse with racking may be up to 4-5 meters wide to enable access to forklifts or hand trucks. Lanes and aisles should be free from debris or cargo that could block the movement of people or handling equipment. There should be what is known as a “fire lane” – a free and open space between cargo and walls of a suggested 40 cm or the safest available space through which an adult human can move to enable quick exit. Exits in a warehouse should never blocked, and in large commercial facilities exits should be clearly marked.
For smaller remote warehouses or mobile storage units (MSUs) - Small field warehouses are likely going to be stocked and managed completely by hand. Proper layout can help ease the hand management process. Heavy or bulky items may be stored closer to exits of storage units to minimize minimise efforts to manually move, while frequently used items should be moved closer to the front of the storage site to minimize minimise distance required for porters to manually load/offload.
Warehouse racking – sometimes referred to as pallet racking – is a heavy-duty metal superstructure that is specifically designed to hold large, pallet sized items. Each space where a pallet might fit is referred to as a pallet bay, and pallet bays are generally counted as “pallet positions” when counting warehouse space availability. Palletized Palletised cargo, bulky items stored on pallets, or oversized cargo of a specific size can be loaded onto pallet racking using a forklift. The bottom bay can usually be loaded with a pallet jack, or may kept open for hand stacking smaller items. Properly utilized utilised racks can dramatically increase the storage capacity of a warehouse, maximizing maximising three-dimensional space to the best of its ability.
Related to pallet racks, stacking frames are pre-made metal super structures that are designed to vertically stack cargo. Unlike pallet racks, stacking frames are free-standing, and are highly customizable customisable and modular.
A single stacking frame is typically cubic in shape, and around 1.5 x 1.5 meters at the base, though sizes vary. Most stacking frames can either be nested into each other when not being used, or even be taken apart, saving space. Stacking frames are useful for:
Shelving can easily be constructed in remote field warehouses from local materials, insofar as the local materials can physically support the required stored items. Shelving can also be installed anywhere inside a larger warehouse, however the location should make contextual sense. As an example, shelving may be used as an intermediary stage of order fulfillmentfulfilment; a warehouse may have pallets/large cartons of items small items, but only receive pick orders for low quantities. A reasonable quantity of stock may be moved to pre-defined shelf space to facilitate ease of fulfilling low or item level pick orders. Shelving may require a separated space physically separated from the main warehouse floor; high value items or controlled goods might be better suited stored on shelving in a separate lockable space.
Ground storage of loose items is quite common in humanitarian settings. Most remote field warehouses are usually too small to accommodate specialty special equipment installation, lack the sufficient infrastructure to properly support MHE, or are temporary structures in nature. A substantial portion of humanitarian relief supplies don’t necessarily require advanced handling either. There are several tricks to properly managing stacks of cargo, which are covered in the stock management section of this guide. Humanitarian agencies should resist the urge to use ground handling in all contexts despite its prevalent nature; commodities such as medication may benefit from not being stacked in a pile. Space planers should also resist the urge to fill up all available space when utilizing utilising ground storage; warehouses and storage facilities using ground storage and stacking should still observe the 70/30 rule, keeping lanes and aisles open for safety while making room for loading and offloading.
Pallets have become ubiquitous across transport and warehousing operations globally, however there is a wide variety of sizes, dimensions and physical construction of pallets. Though local warehouse managers may have very little control over the types of pallets that might arrive, an understanding of pallet differences can assist with both space planning, and safe utilization utilisation of racking and MHE.
Pallets generally come in a few standard dimensions. ISO Pallet Standard Dimensions are:
- Pallets come in either two-way entry or four-way entry, meaning forks can lift from only two side or all four sides.
- Pallets can be reversable reversible or nonreversiblenon-reversible. Non reversable reversible pallets mean only one side has a stable surface upon which cargo can be stored. Non reversable reversible pallets are sometimes called “skids.”
Material-Handling Equipment (MHE) is defined as any mechanized mechanised or manual machinery to assist with the movement of cargo, either around a warehouse or during the transport process.
MHE is designed to do heavy lifting; it can help warehouse personnel move heavy loads but can also be very dangerous. Forklifts can easily hurt or kill workers, while a pallet jack may enable workers to move pallets far heavier than they realizerealise, compromising the safety of others. While utilizing utilising MHE, warehouse staff should be properly trained and use proper safety equipment.
MHE typically involved in warehousing operations might include:
Forklifts – A mechanized mechanised power loader capable of lifting full pallets and heavy equipment. Forklifts come in a variety of sizes to meet a variety of load needs, but generally come with an enclosed cab and a four wheel base. All forklifts will have a hydraulic or chain powered “mast” capable of extending and lifting cargo vertically. The height and lift capacity of the mast depends on the rating of the forklift, and more information can be found from the manual or manufacture website.
Depending on the make, forklifts can be powered by either battery, compressed gas, or diesel/gasoline. Forklifts are generally designed for either use inside a warehouse with even surfaces, or for all terrain outdoor use.
Before obtaining a forklift, humanitarian agencies should consider:
Pallet Jacks – Sturdy, low centre push cart with forks capable of lifting a pallet a few centimetres off the ground. Pallet jacks are typically only powered by hand, using a hydraulic piston to gently lift and lower pallets. Pallet jacks generally require flat surfaces and only work indoors, but can assist with moving large loads quickly and with minimal effort.
Dollies – Occasionally referred to as hand trucks, dollies allow for moving of stacked cargo without the aid of a pallet. Dollies can be useful for moving relatively small loads, such as a stack of cartons, or a single large item, such as a large roll. Many dollies are designed with heavy duty inflatable ties to assist with operating outdoors.
Push Carts and Others – There are a variety of other simple tools to facilitate the movement of cargo around a warehouse or between mode of transits. A very common tool is a standard push cart, however there are many variations on sizes and components, and users should select the support tools most useful to them.
A warehouse working with large MHE and palletized palletised cargo will have some different needs than a small field level warehouse. Additionally, larger facilities may have contracts with professional cleaning or repair companies, while smaller facilities will be purely self-managed. The basic tools and equipment of a warehouse should reflect the daily needs of the operation, and the prevailing environmental conditions. Planners should think through their basic supply needs when establishing a warehouse; an overabundance of basic tools may cost more, but a lack of tools can stop an operation entirely.
Perimeter Security - Storage facilities should have in-tact perimeter walls or fences. The premiers should not have any gaps or holes, and be high enough and sturdy enough to sufficiently prevent casual thefts or easy access. The perimeter areas should be as shaped as regular as possible to avoid potential blind spots where unauthorized unauthorised access may occur. If possible, sufficient perimeter lights should be installed, and should function throughout the entire night.
- Be built with either the front or back facing prevailing winds to minimize minimise wind pressure.
- Should not be constructed in a low point, or in a location prone to flooding.
- (Ideally) MSUs Should be built on free standing slabs to elevate the MSU above waters caused by rains or flooding.
- MSUs must be properly secured, lockable from the outside and difficult for anyone to climb under the outer apron.
As cargo leaves the warehouse, waybills will also be generated. Agencies may wish to generate their own agency specific waybills to accompany cargo they pack and load. In other situations, third-party vehicles may generate their own waybills on the spot. In either case, warehouse workers loading cargo onto vehicles must ensure that the information contained on the waybill is accurate. Situations in which organizations organisations may choose to use self-generated waybills may include:
- A GRN may capture information on multiple consignments arriving at once.
- GRNs may take the place of waybills, which may show up with incomplete or incorrect information, or may not come at all.
- GRNs are a form of standardizing standardising incoming information in the format most useful to the organizationorganisation.
- With proper planning, a GRN can be generated prior to a shipment arrival so warehouse crews know what to expect at the point of offloading.
GRNs should capture dates, locations, persons involved in the transaction and the contents of the cargo entering the warehouse. The exact structure, contents and sequence of a GRN vary depending on needs – as an example, an organization organisation focused on medical interventions may need to track batch and lot numbers, while an organization organisation focused on food may choose to track items by the kilogram. Organizations Organisations should consider their own internal requirements when drafting a GRN.
Goods Release Note/Stock Release Order – A goods release note serves a similar function as a GRN, however a release note’s goal is to capture the information on items as they leave the warehouse. Many organizations organisations choose to use the release note the same as an official pick-order; the requesting party initiates the release note indicating which items are required, and obtains counter signature from the appropriate entity within the organizationorganisation. A completed release note will capture the final dates, quantities and persons involved with the loading all the way to the truck. A proper release note will tell a story of what was removed, why and by whom. Many agencies don’t actively use release notes, opting to only use waybills at the time of release or communicating pick-orders via email.
Anchor ReleaseOrder ReleaseOrder
There is no one standard for a inventory Ledger system. Historically, running inventory Ledgers were recorded by hand in a book, but modern systems may use computer-based spreadsheets, specially designed software, web-based tracking, and more. The important part is that a warehouse manager can quickly and on-demand find relevant information for any stock item contained in the warehouse through a single centralized centralised system.
In an ideal cargo reception process, incoming shipments should be arranged prior to the delivery vehicle arriving and information on incoming shipments should be communicated to the warehouse team in advance. Ideally, the consignment contents and volume, and possibly even a scanned copy of a packing list and/or waybill will be communicated in advance as well.
- If a single organization organisation is moving cargo between two warehouses/storage locations it directly manages, it should be relatively easy to provide advanced delivery information to the receiving location.
- If the warehouse in question is receiving cargo from outside sources such as a vendor, agencies should endeavor endeavour to obtain as much information as possible up front.
- In any situation, vehicles approaching the warehouse or storage facility should be instructed to call at least one hour in advance to ensure the warehouse can adequately receive and offload the vehicle. In storage facilities with busy operations, the vehicle will need to be scheduled for a specific time for offloading.
- The weights and volumes for each line item are recorded.
- Full count is conducted against the waybill. Discrepancies between the piece count and the waybill or damages should be noted on the waybill.
- A goods received note (GRN) for the received items is generated.
- Items are placed in appropriate, corresponding place in warehouse/stock room.
- Physical copies of the GRN and Waybill are backed up in a secure location in the office warehouse.
- As item are placed in the warehouse, stock cards should be updated. If no stock card yet exists, a new stock card should be generated.
- Shipments arriving without prior notification may be rejected, depending on security, warehouse capacity and policy of the organizationorganisation.
- If damaged items are received, they should be separated from the main consignment and placed in a well-marked location, to be repaired or disposed of later.
Much like planning cargo reception, there are steps that warehouses and organizations organisations can take to plan for cargo dispatch as well.
- Cargo dispatch should be planned in advance and communicated to the warehouse; pick orders should be clear, and warehouses given time to pull down cargo, compile shipments, and stage for pick up.
- Vehicles arriving for pick up should be known and scheduled in advance. Vehicles arriving for unplanned cargo pick-ups, or arriving announced for planned cargo pick-ups may be delayed or rejected based on the policy of the managing organizationorganisation.
At Cargo Dispatch
Steps to take at the point of releasing cargo from a warehouse facility:
Irrespective of the size of the warehouse/storage facility or nature of the storage arrangements, there are basic rules humanitarian organizations organisations can use to enhance their physical stock management processes.
In any situation where cargo is stored for any period of time, it is strongly advised that humanitarian warehouse managers utilize utilise both some form of inventory Ledger and a paper stock/stack/bin card system.
An ideal inventory Ledger will be electronically maintained, utilizing utilising some form of spreadsheet or special use software. The ledger should be constantly kept up to date, and should be easy to access and understand by any team member responsible for accounting for cargo on site.
Stock/stack/bin cards should be clearly visible from the floor of the warehouse, legible, easy to read, and utilize utilise the local language of operation. Stock/stack/bin cards should match the inventory Ledger.
Perishable items with expiration dates must be closely tracked. Items with expiration dates less than three months in the future or expired items should flagged and communicated to program staff to ensure they are properly utilizedutilised.
Stored cargo must always be separated from the ground, using pallets, tarpaulin, shelving, or racking. Warehouse managers should be constantly motoring the status and condition of stock on hand. All handling units should appear in good condition, and be free from avoidable damage of any kind, including water damage, punctures or rusting. If cartons or items appear to be crushed, punctured or experiencing damage from regular wear and tear, they must be separated, repaired (if possible), and returned to inventory in a manner that prevents future damage.
There are a variety of methods for conducting physical inventories. Agencies should review different inventory methods, and set up guidelines and time intervals for conducting inventories, including ad-hoc and regularly scheduled annual inventories.
As warehouses continue throughout their operations, they will inevitably need to dispose of damaged, expired, or no longer required goods. Disposition of any item must be done in an ethical, environmentally friendly and legal manner, all in compliance with the internal policies of the organization organisation managing the facility. Options for disposition:
- Donation/Resale – items still in usable condition can be sold or donated to other agencies or local populations in accordance with donor regulations and internal financial policies.
- Dispose – some items can be thrown directly into the trash without concern, such as small quantities of expired food stuffs or cardboard.
- Destroy – some items, such as expired medication, harmful chemicals, bulk foodstuffs, and specialty special “dual use” or military grade hardware, may need to be actively destroyed. Many local authorities have regulations on the destruction of these items, and there may even be authorized authorised companies certified in destroying key materials. Agencies should investigate local laws and seek out disposal companies whenever required.
- Re-export – some items, such as heavy machinery, may need to be re-exported from the country of operation. Re-exporting of key items may be required by donors and national authorities, or may be just more cost effective than local disposition.
In NFI operations, stacking can be challenging. An average humanitarian program can have dozens of individual SKUs to fulfill fulfil a variety of programmatic needs. With an increased number of SKUs, maintaining large piles of cargo can make identifying and managing individual cargo items difficult. There are several mitigation measures agencies can take when faced with generating cargo stacks in a warehouse.
- Spoiled or damaged items in the middle are difficult to spot or deal with
- Practicing Practising FIFO may be difficult of cargo in the middle of a large stack is inaccessible
- Visual counting may be difficult or impossible
- Excessive weight in a single area of the warehouse may lead to structural risks
Double stacked pallets are defined by one or more pallets placed on top of each other without the additional layer of a pallet rack or support structure. Double stacking is fairly common in transport, but should be avoided for any form of medium to long term storage in warehouses. A double stacked pallet can easily fall over and injure warehouse workers if any part of the bottom pallet is compromised, often without warning. A collapsed double stacked pallet can also easily destroy the contents of one or both of the individual pallets. With the inconsistent flows and constant changes of a humanitarian supply model, a double stacked pallet may end up being stored for much longer than originally planned, and managers may forget or simply not realize realise the dangers of double stacking.
Cargo stored on pallet racking has advantages and disadvantages. Though use of pallet racking affords the efficient use of vertical space and rapid movement of large volumes of cargo, users of pallet racking sacrifice the ability to manage cargo at the unit level, instead having to work mostly with palletized palletised cargo.
When managing cargo using pallet racking, pallets should be properly stacked and loaded. Ideally, only like items and/or items with the same SKU will be stored on the same pallet, and pallets containing the same SKUs will be stored next to each other on the same racks. Cartons and cargo on pallets should be uniform and even, with weight evenly distributed across the pallet to avoid accidents while moving using a forklift. Cartons or items on a pallet should also not stick out over the edge of the pallets to maximize maximise the use of space on the rack.
Ideally, pallets should also be well wrapped to prevent slumping or falling during movement and long-term storage. Pallet wrapping is cheap and widely used, and can be done by hand without the need for special equipment. Some products and warehouses also choose to utilized utilised binding – synthetic or organic ropes or straps - that keep palletized palletised cargo together. Properly wrapped or bound pallets will dramatically increase the longevity of the pallet.
Other general guidance points for utilizing utilising pallet racking systems:
- Pallets stored on racks for long periods of time may start to slump or display distress. Pallets appearing compromised must be pulled down, rebuilt/restacked and rewrappedre-stacked and re-wrapped.
- Racks should be numbered for easy reference, including the row number and the level of the racking.
- Items most frequently accessed should be stored in the lower level of pallet racks. More infrequently accessed items should be stored on higher racks.
- Extremely heavy, bulky or expensive items requiring rack storage should be stored on the ground floor of pallet racks to avoid injury while loading or damage to goods.
- Pallets should be clearly labelled denoting consignment information, and should be legible from the ground and at any angle.
- If stock cards are used, they should be kept at ground level in a safely accessible area.
- The rows between racks should be separated far enough to allow for maneuvering manoeuvring of handling equipment.
- Pallets should be adequate width to sit on the cross beams without risk of falling through.
- Pallets stored next to each other on pallet racks should not come into physical contact.
- Pallets should be evenly balanced across the beam; no pallet should be leaning over the edge of the frame, nor sticking out too far.
- Pallets should not exceed the weight limit of the racking.
- Loading and offloading of racks should only be conducted by a trained professional.
Warehoused items stored on shelving offers the quickest and most organized organised access to the lowest inventory unit. Where as ground stacking or pallet racking are meant for large scale storage of high volumes of items, shelving should be treated as a sorting point for individual items, much like items stored on the shelf a local store.
Reactive substances can cause quick and noticeable reactions, or slow and hard to immediately recognize recognise reactions. Both can be damaging to inventory, physical structures and pose hazards to humans. A notable example of a substance frequently used by humanitarian agencies is HTH Calcium Hypochlorite (Granulated Chlorine) used in health responses.
Other notable reactive compounds used by humanitarian agencies might include lead acid batteries, cleaning agents, and synthetic fertilizersfertilisers.
Reactive substances should be properly labelled on their exterior packaging, and warehouse workers should be aware of the nature of the reactive substance while handling them. Reactive substances must be stored in well ventilated spaces inside storage facilities. Any known reactive substance should be well inspected to ensure packing isn’t compromised, and there is no evidence of leakage. Warehouse managers should work with program staff to ensure reactive substances are stored for as short a time as possible, minimizing minimising hazards to the warehouse workers.
Some items may not be dangerous to handle, but are considered “regulated,” either due to their value or for legal reasons. Some governments may deem some medications, communications equipment, or other specialty special items as regulated items, resulting in a requirement for special handing. Controlled storage spaces might also be used for bonded or pre-cleared cargo.
The proper storage of mechanical equipment can be frequently overlooked in storage settings. Mechanical equipment, including generators, vehicles and pumping equipment, will still require routine inspection and maintenance. Equipment with engines will still have plastic and rubber components - including sealants, filters, valves and tubing – which will degrade over time and render the equipment useless. Equipment with liquids - such as motor oils, gear lubricants, or fuel – can evaporate, harden or even slowly corrode machine parts. Large external rubber surfaces – such as tires, water bladders or inflatable boats – are especially prone to damage in long term storage or excessive heat.
If organizations organisations choose to keep equipment in storage, there are several steps to keep equipment running well:
The longer equipment is stored for, the more likely it is to not be usable when the time comes. This is especially problematic in pre-positioning facilities, but should be observed in field warehouses as well. Where required, storage of specialty special mechanical equipment should be kept for as short a time as possible.