Winter always creates challenges with running the supply chain. Icy roads make it hard for trucks to transport cargo safely, and blizzards can force planes and ships to delay their delivery schedules until the skies are clear. The rough weather can even cause challenges before the cargo goes out for shipment.
Find out how you can protect your inventory in storage this winter.
Your inventory may be temperature sensitive — particularly to the cold. The cold can damage a wide variety of products, from electronics to glassware. During the winter, you’ll want to make sure that the frigid air doesn’t get inside your storage facility and ruin your inventory.
The best protection against the outside cold in your storage facility is insulation. Without insulation, the cold can easily penetrate your walls and affect the inventory you’re keeping inside.
If you’re planning on using a shipping container for storage, you’ll notice that there is nothing behind the corrugated walls to act as a protective barrier from cold. Before the temperatures drop, add insulation along the walls and ceiling. It’s important to learn how to set up a shipping container for storage — it’s not enough to use the shipping container as-is. Otherwise, you could risk damaging your inventory and hurting your profits.
Install a basic heating system inside the storage facility. This can help the interior maintain a moderate temperature at all times, no matter what the weather is like outside.
The floor will be the coldest part of your storage facility, especially in the winter months. This is true for all types of storage facilities, whether you have a brick-and-mortar warehouse or a shipping container storage unit. Do not place inventory directly on the ground — it will absorb the chill. Place your inventory on a sturdy shelving unit or wooden pallet.
The winter weather doesn’t just bring cold temperatures, it can bring condensation, too. If the air in the storage unit is warmer than the exterior walls, condensation can happen. The moisture could potentially damage your inventory by making it damp, creating mold and mildew or causing rust.
Condensation is trickier to manage in the winter since you’ll want the interior of your storage facility to be warmer than the exterior walls. Turning down the temperature will do more harm than good.
So, how can you minimize condensation?
- Place vapor barriers behind the insulation.
- Add desiccant bags or poles around the facility to absorb moisture out of the air.
- Use dehumidifiers.
The winter can increase the risk of inventory damage (along with worker injury) due to slips and falls. You should take steps to make sure that workers don’t slip on a slick strip of ice or on a floor covered in melted snow.
Entrances to the storage facility should be carefully shoveled whenever it snows. If ice appears on the ground, add salt or other natural de-icers to make it safer to walk over. Add industrial floor mats with tread to the interior.
Your inventory isn’t the only thing that requires extra protection in the winter. Workers need that extra protection, too! Any workers moving in and out of the storage facility will need to wear protective clothing to avoid health problems from cold exposure — like frostbite on fingers. If you want to see how you can safely prepare workers during the season, you should consult the OSHA winter weather guide.
Winterize your storage facility as soon as possible. You don’t want to wait for the temperatures to drop before you take action.