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Simple Tips for Preventing Lost Items in the Warehouse


For people who have a career in logistics, especially in Warehousing (warehouses) will be quite familiar with the term lost goods. Lost goods in the warehouse is roughly defined as a discrepancy between the stock of goods recorded and the physical goods in the warehouse, in the event that the warehouse is lost, the term loss of goods does not always mean the goods in the warehouse are lost in real terms.

Preventing lost items in the warehouse does not have to go through high-cost project improvement. Of course, it would be very easy to say that project improvement such as implementing the use of barcodes, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or even outsourcing the warehouse to 3rd parties will reduce or even eliminate the risk of losing goods in the warehouse.

Some basic questions that need to be considered to prevent loss of goods in the warehouse are as follows:

  • Does the warehouse have and apply Standard Operating & Procedure (SOP) correctly?
  • Are there continuous improvement steps for lost goods in the warehouse?
  • Is there a problem with the Human Resources (HR) in the Warehouse?

The three basic questions I chose above outline some simple tips / steps to prevent losing goods in the warehouse.

1. Does the Warehouse have and apply Standard Operating & Procedure (SOP) correctly?

The SOP that is currently in the Warehouse may be originally created by the Quality Assurance / Control division / department, although of course with the approval of the Warehouse department / division. 

With the dynamic development of Warehouse operational activities, it is very possible that the SOP is no longer relevant to the needs of the company. As a result, of course, Warehouse employees run with their own creativity.

Never expect that Warehouse level helper employees or even supervisors will propose improvements to existing SOPs, because reading SOPs is only done once a year, namely when carrying out an audit. Thus, Warehouses that run with their own creativity will create a gap for them to make some kind of profit (either economically or reduce workload).

In a certain period it is necessary to conduct an assessment or review of all SOPs to ensure that the gaps have been covered by the correct SOPs. 

It is necessary to underline that if the SOP is continuously reviewed, it will cause operational instability in the Warehouse itself, it is advisable to focus on SOPs that are directly related to the occurrence of loss of goods. For example, SOP for packing goods, SOP for loading – unloading process, SOP for using truck seals, etc.

2. Are there continuous improvement step for lost goods in the warehouse?

Every Warehouse certainly records and records every incident of lost goods, some may also apply in-depth investigations of every incident of lost goods (depending on the value and amount). 

However, perhaps there are still a few who investigate the root of the problem and follow up with operational improvements, most of the lost goods investigations only lead to 'who is at fault' rather than producing 'what will happen in the future'.

One example that I have encountered is a case of loss of cigarette products. Day after day it shows the difference between the number of cigarettes in data and the physical ones in the warehouse. As a result, of course, adjustments are made to lost goods on the cigarette products. 

When I did an investigation I found it quite difficult to find the 'perpetrator' responsible for the loss of this item, so slowly I made small changes whose ultimate goal was to prevent the loss of Cigarette products.

Some examples of small changes made:

  • Implementing stock cards / recording of goods in and out of a special manual for Cigarettes
  • Changing the warehouseman responsible for Cigarettes
  • Changing the location of Cigarette items in the warehouse once every 1-2 weeks, as well as continuously monitoring the stock data of Cigarette items
  • Repair - These small repairs then produce significant results, only approximately 2-3 weeks after these repairs were carried out, the loss of Cigarette products is practically gone

3. Is there a problem with the Human Resources (HR) in the Warehouse?

One of my bosses once assumed that the Warehouse, from what was originally a good place to store goods, had been converted into a place to store used goods and even a place for 'outcasts' who relatively didn't perform anywhere else.

If indeed the HR in the warehouse is true (a place for exiles), then it is certain that the Warehouse will become a warehouse full of problems, where loss of goods is only the result of inadequate human resources.

Determining the qualifications of the needs of an employee in the warehouse is actually the same as determining the qualifications of employees in other departments and it cannot be said that the qualifications of employees in the warehouse are lower than other departments. 

If currently the warehouse that you manage is filled with problematic human resources, the incident of lost goods is not only difficult to solve but will continue to increase from time to time.

It's easy to see these problematic HR, generally they work at a different level with their colleagues who have 'average' performance. 

The difficulty is to identify or separate which HR is 'problematic' and which HR works are 'average' needed to work directly with them on a daily basis and at least have a lot of contact and communication regarding jobs that are more or less equal in weight. .

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