[Image Attribution: gorodenkoff via Getty Images]


As material handling returns to normal volumes, the post-holiday rush is the perfect time to revisit your maintenance to-do list.


For many teams, reduced staffing levels due to COVID-19 meant that maintenance had to be set aside or scaled back to preserve productivity. If this happened in your facility, then it’s likely several projects have piled up over the past year.


By creating a plan now—and getting ahead on a few tasks—your team can get caught up on routine maintenance and put schedules back on track. Here’s how you can make it happen.


Heading into winter: Top deferred maintenance issues to take on


Take these five steps before winter hits to enable your team to tackle its maintenance backlog without interruptions.


1. Upgrade facility lighting


Warehouse lighting is crucial to safety and productivity. It’s likely also one of the highest consumers of electricity in your facility.


By retrofitting fixtures, you can take advantage of energy-efficient LED lighting for lower utility bills and reduced maintenance costs. LED lamps don’t require ballasts, and they last much longer than halogen or CFLs, so routine maintenance and changeouts aren’t necessary.


Consider installing occupancy sensors and timers as well. They allow you to not only light up a space without having to flip a switch but also make sure lights are off when a space is vacant.


2. Repaint all lines in parking lots and shipping/receiving areas


Parking lots and shipping/receiving areas take a beating throughout the year—especially during peak season. Once traffic slows down again, revisit parking, shipping, and receiving areas and repaint lines to improve safety and navigation.


3. Restripe floors with tape or paint


Floors encounter heavy traffic during peak season, which can wear down floor markings and make them hard to see. Think about restriping floors using either tape or paint to make sure features such as traffic directions, PPE requirements, and warehouse storage/organization are clear for workers.


4. Replace wall and floor signage


Floor signs and wall signs only last for so long. As we head into winter, now is an ideal time to check all signs and replace any that are outdated or difficult to read—from social distancing and handwashing signs to exit and caution signs.


If you’re unclear about when and where signs are needed for safety purposes, then revisit OSHA’s signage requirements to make sure you comply with the latest regulations.


5. Conduct preventative equipment maintenance


Staying on top of preventative maintenance keeps your equipment running smoothly and prevents unplanned downtime due to failure. From forklifts to conveyors, your material handling equipment gets lots of use during the holidays. Dedicate time to performing inspections, cleaning, and replacing worn or broken components on your equipment.  



During winter: Top maintenance priorities to tackle


With those five tasks handled, get ready to cross bigger maintenance projects off your list. Doing these things extends equipment life, increases efficiency, reduces downtime risk, and creates a safer, more comfortable work environment.


1. Replace or remove obsolete equipment


If you’re no longer using a piece of equipment because it’s broken or worn out, decide whether it needs to be upgraded or replaced—or whether it can be removed from the building.


Take a survey of all the equipment in your warehouse or distribution area: Replace necessary components to get machines back into action, swap out outdated models for newer models if needed, and discard obsolete equipment that’s no longer being used.


2. Replace air filters throughout the facility


Air filtration is key to keeping warehouse and distribution areas clean—and workers healthy. If filters are left in an HVAC system too long, then they can become clogged. This reduces airflow and makes your system work harder to heat the space, increases utility bills, and negatively impacts air quality.


Because heating systems are in constant use during the winter, air filters need to be replaced more often during this time. Check your systems and replace air filters throughout the building.


3. Check all HVAC equipment


Your HVAC system is likely working overtime during the cold months, so a quick check of HVAC equipment is a good idea to make sure heat continues to function—and systems are prepared to cool as the weather warms up.


Inspect, clean, lubricate, and replace worn components, such as coils, drain pans, condensate lines, compressors, fan motor blades, and belts. If you notice potential problems, then you can get them resolved now before systems go down.


4. Check loading dock areas for proper lubrication and functionality


Conduct a complete inspection of loading dock areas and perform necessary cleaning, adjustments, and lubrication of equipment like vehicle restraints and dock levelers.


Also check the condition of features such as weather seals, dock bumpers, and ramp controls to make sure any worn-out components are replaced.


5. Verify that all exterior lighting fixtures work


Exterior lighting becomes especially important during the winter months when daylight is scarce: It can improve safety, reduce slips and falls, and illuminate clear walking paths.


Take a tour around the outside of your facility to check wall packs, flood lights, and pole-mounted lighting. Are all fixtures working? Do any lamps need to be replaced? Are motion sensors functioning? Address any areas that need attention.



Keeping up on maintenance during the pandemic


COVID-19 is still impacting operations in many parts of the country, making it difficult to prioritize and stay on top of routine preventative maintenance. If your team is struggling due to a labor gap or because of necessary safety protocols, then there are steps you can take to make sure maintenance doesn’t fall behind again.


First, create a schedule for preventative maintenance and share it with your team. Having all tasks written down in one place—along with specific dates and who will accomplish them—makes it easier to track projects, get through all items on the list, and see where you’re losing ground.


Second, follow the 5S Lean Management workplace organization methodology when completing preventative maintenance:


  1. Sort: Keep only what’s needed.
  2. Set: Arrange and label necessary items for easy access and storage.
  3. Shine: Keep things clean and maintained.
  4. Standardize: Complete the same tasks in the same ways.
  5. Sustain: Make these processes a habit.


This process helps your team maintain organization and orderliness, reduce waste, and eliminate downtime for the smooth, efficient flow of work.


Keeping up on routine maintenance increases the longevity of your facility and its equipment. Contact our product experts to learn more about how Global Industrial can help you tackle all your maintenance projects.




The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial® be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.


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