Selecting the Right Warehouse Equipment
While human capital is a warehouse’s most valuable resource, even the most talented and dedicated workers cannot reach their maximum potential without access to the right equipment. That being said, warehouse equipment – like any other business asset – should be thought of as an investment rather than a one-time purchase, and making an unwise investment could end up doing more harm than good.
There are several factors to consider when it comes to selecting the right warehouse equipment for your business and getting better results out of both the equipment you buy and the workers who will use it every day.
Consider both Available Space and Necessary Tasks
Before breaking out the business credit card and paying for expensive new equipment, it’s worth considering what equipment your business really needs and examining where reorganization at the procedural level could change those needs. Picking the right warehouse equipment is not about making sure everything in the warehouse is shiny and new, but rather about identifying problems in your daily operations and getting equipment specifically to address them.
Warehouse managers looking to upgrade their equipment should analyze how their business is currently set up and determine whether there are any discrepancies in their storage, picking, packing, and shipping processes. Once those problem areas are identified, you can prioritize equipment that could immediately help improve them. If a business is going to front the cost for a new forklift, for instance, it should be because the new machine would noticeably increase picking and packing efficiency – not just because the old one has some scuff marks on it.
Upfront Costs vs Long-Term Losses
The true “cost” of good equipment can be difficult to ascertain in the moment, as the number on the monthly balance sheet does not take into account what amount could be saved or lost as a direct result of the purchase. It is almost always better to pay for long-term quality than to save on a short-term solution, since low-quality equipment that has to be replaced more frequently can be pricier over time than the single, high-quality purchase would have been.
However, warehouse managers looking to select the right equipment for their long-term needs should also consider return on investment. In other words, for every dollar you spend on a new piece of equipment, you should try to determine how much more you will get back in net income. If a $5,000 purchase ends up producing $10,000 in profit over the course of its lifetime, that’s a good financial decision. Alternatively, if it only ends up producing $6,000 in profit, the smaller net gain may not be worth the upfront cost. Since this is a simplified example of what is often a very complex financial decision, working closely with financial planning teams is often an essential part of the equipment shopping process.
Prepare for an Adjustment Period
Even if it makes sense financially to buy new equipment for your warehouse, it is still critical to think about the practicalities of working that equipment into your business’s daily workflow. Existing employees may need to be trained or licensed with the new equipment, and there might need to be infrastructural changes made to the warehouse floor.
In some cases, managers may need to bring in new hires specifically to operate new equipment or simply to help keep up with the increased rate of productivity that the equipment allows for. HapiGig allows employers to bring on flex labor whenever new equipment is implemented to make the adjustment period for existing workers more manageable. Ultimately, selecting the right warehouse equipment requires forethought and financial consideration to make the right call for your warehouse’s unique needs.