For any supply chain business, warehouses are extremely important as this is the place where all products are stored, packaged and prepared for shipment. Larger companies, like Amazon, that offer a vast range of products, have a more difficult time regulating the temperature of their warehouses because they are working with a much larger inventory. During the winter months, warehouses are easily susceptible to the cold, particularly because products are usually being moved from inside to outside all day long. However, there are many ways that you can combat this and help to protect your inventory, warehouse and workers by taking steps to increase the indoor temperature and streamlining your packaging operations to avoid workers’ exposure to the cold.
The Importance of Protecting Your Warehouse in the Winter
There are many reasons that you should be concerned about the temperature of your warehouse, particularly in the winter. In the summer, allowing the warehouse to get too hot can also have negative effects, but the way in which you address this problem differs a bit. During the winter, you are exposing both your equipment and products to the cold. This, in turn, can cause damage leading you to spend money on repairing or purchasing new equipment and/or replacing lost inventory. When inventory is damaged or lost, it can also impact the time it takes a product to reach the consumer, causing issues with brand trust and on-time shipping rates.
Not only are your products and machinery affected by the cold, but your employees who must work in these conditions every day need a way to stay warm. Of course, it’s important to teach new employees how to dress for the winter months, meaning they will likely want to wear heavy clothing, jackets and several layers as they will be moving items outside very often. But, the greater the level of comfort your employees have, the more satisfied they will be, leading to increased production rates.
How to Protect Your Warehouse from the Cold
Consider the Size of Your Warehouse
If you have not yet invested in a warehouse or you’re looking for a new inventory storage space, size is a huge factor in maintaining a regular temperature. The larger your warehouse, the more difficult it will be to heat or cool down. You need to find a space that can accommodate all of your offerings and potentially allow room for inventory growth, but you also don’t need to spend money on a space larger than necessary. Consider the size of your inventory and find a location that doesn’t offer more open space than you need.
When you’ve found the perfect warehouse location, there are some tips and tricks you can use to help increase airflow, allowing the area to cool and warm more easily. Try using wire racks and shelves to store shipping supplies and products as this type of organization system will allow the air to flow through the area more efficiently.
Take Advantage of Geothermal Heating Systems
Investing in a traditional heating system is often a waste of money for warehouses because the nature of the space means that doors are opening and closing constantly, allowing the cold outdoor air inside. If you tried to implement a gas heating system, it would cost an exorbitant amount of money to both install and maintain as the system would be working around the clock to keep the area warm. However, geothermal energy is a more environmentally friendly and affordable alternative type of heating system.
Geothermal energy uses heat from the ground to warm up a space, which is much more cost-effective and reduces the use of fossil fuels. If you have a very large warehouse space, it may not be worth the investment as, again, larger spaces are more difficult to heat and cool. But for smaller-scale warehouse operations, geothermal heating systems can be a great solution.
Avoid Letting Heat Escape when Possible
Although warehouses often need to leave their doors open, trying to keep heat inside as much as possible will help reduce the cold. Some warehouses need to keep the doors open all day, making it more difficult to retain heat, which is when you can consider using other tactics to move air around and keep the warmer air circulating. However, if you don’t need to leave the door open, make your best effort to close the doors right after using them as this will keep as much warm air inside as possible.
Increase Packaging Efficiency
For the employees, working in very cold conditions can be extremely uncomfortable and slow down their job performance. If you can streamline your packaging operations, making it quicker and easier for employees to get their job done, they won’t have to spend as much time exposed to cold air. To make the packaging process more efficient, you can add automated machines to help speed up the process and take away some of the more time-consuming manual labor aspects of packing products.
Provide Warm Areas for Employees
Even if you take steps to reduce cold air in your warehouse, it’s very difficult to ever get the space to a comfortably warm temperature in the winter. Because your employees’ well-being should be a top priority, you need to provide a warm place where they can escape to when they need to take a break and get out of the cold. This can be a moderate-sized office area or a break room that is heated to a normal indoor temperature and offers a place for people to sit down and eat lunch or a snack without having to keep their heavy winter jacket on.
Prepare Your Warehouse This Winter
Winter is just around the corner, which is why it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to protect your warehouse from the cold right now. Be sure to talk to your employees before the winter hits and review guidelines on how to retain body heat and dress for the warehouse during the coldest months. You can also take steps to streamline your packaging process, reduce cold air from getting inside and set up the warehouse to allow for greater airflow.