What are the most important questions a shipper should ask when looking for a warehouse location? (Dawit Habte - President/CEO Afar Logistics)

  1. How many loading docks do you have available?

    • Why it's important: The number of loading docks can significantly affect the efficiency of goods being received and dispatched from the warehouse.
    • Further Questions:
      • How many trucks can be accommodated at once?
      • Are the docks equipped to handle different sizes and types of vehicles?
      • What is the turnaround time per truck on an average day?
  2. What types of handling equipment do you have available?

    • Why it's important: Different products require varied handling equipment. Having the right equipment ensures that products can be moved efficiently and safely within the warehouse.
    • Further Questions:
      • Is the equipment regularly maintained?
      • How is equipment availability managed during peak times?
  3. What do you offer for security & safety?

    • Why it's important: Ensuring the safety of products, as well as the employees, is paramount. Adequate security measures prevent theft, damage, and other potential losses.
    • Further Questions:
      • What security measures are in place (cameras, guards, access controls)?
      • Are there fire safety systems and evacuation procedures?
      • Is there a protocol for regular safety audits?
  4. What type of software do you use?

    • Why it's important: Modern warehouses often rely on software for inventory management, tracking, and logistics planning. The right software can greatly improve efficiency and accuracy.
    • Further Questions:
      • What warehouse management system (WMS) is used?
      • Is the software scalable and can it integrate with other systems (like the shipper's ERP)?
      • How often is the software updated, and what's the protocol for data backups?
  5. What is your forklift & other lifting capacity?

    • Why it's important: Depending on the weight and dimensions of the products, different lifting capacities might be required. It ensures goods can be moved and stored without damage.
    • Further Questions:
      • What are the maximum weight limits of the lifting equipment?
      • How many of each type of lifting equipment are available?
      • Are operators trained and certified?
  6. What does your staffing look like?

    • Why it's important: Adequate staffing ensures operations run smoothly. Experienced and well-trained staff can improve operational efficiency and reduce errors.
    • Further Questions:
      • How many staff members are present per shift?
      • What is the training protocol for new hires?
      • Are there specialized teams for tasks like inventory management, quality checks, or equipment maintenance?

For a shipper, understanding these details about a prospective warehouse location can provide insights into how well the warehouse can handle its specific needs and ensure a smooth and efficient workflow.

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