In most of the world, the holidays feel far away. Not so for warehousing.

Fall is here and the holidays are right around the corner which means that warehouses are gearing up for the full swing of peak shopping season.

While the traditional approach to managing peak season was to hire and train temporary or extra labor, that option is becoming increasingly harder to find. The labor shortage, while easing slightly, remains a big challenge. That makes advanced equipment solutions your best option, because they can remove the need for at least some of your labor force.

Your scanning, labeling, applying and manifesting operations (SLAM) represents the last 100 feet of your warehouse, and is one of the most critical during peak season. It should be one of your key areas of focus, then, when getting ready to ramp up operations.

The first step you should take in preparing is to do a thorough assessment of your layout and operations flow. Is your current design working for you, especially in the last 100 feet? Take a good look at the area during current operations, looking for bottlenecks and places to improve. Maybe your labeling equipment is dated and could use an upgrade, or perhaps scanning is your choke point. Anything that currently serves to slow down operations will be amplified during your busiest season and you must address it now.

Part of this assessment should include a meeting with your critical stakeholders to understand what they are anticipating for the upcoming busy season. What are their unique needs during peak season? What changes do they expect from last year to this year? What are your existing inventory levels and how does this need to change for the holidays? This information needs to be incorporated into any changes or upgrades you make to your SLAM area.

Once you’ve identified your pain points from a thorough assessment, you need to start thinking about solutions. For instance, would a thorough maintenance procedure work for some of your equipment to get it into top working order? Preventative maintenance is a good idea no matter what, but especially so during the holidays. Or does your equipment need replacing or upgrading entirely? Automating your SLAM line or upgrading to the latest versions of SLAM equipment can be a game changer.

Another place to turn some attention is your systems—do your WMS and WES solutions work seamlessly with your SLAM equipment? Make sure they do for optimal results at this busy time.

While it’s never too late to improve your SLAM operations, with peak season approaching, it’s also never too early.

The MHI SLAM Industry Group is conducting a survey to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the ecommerce fulfillment operations. As a practitioner in this field, your insight and experiences are of utmost importance to us. We would be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to share your thoughts and opinions through this survey. Your participation will contribute to shaping the future of the industry.

Note—not every business operates with the holidays as its busy season. If you’re in the lawn and garden business, for instance, spring is your peak. The advice contained here applies to every busy season, however, no matter where that falls on the calendar.

To learn more about MHI’s SLAM industry group:

More information about Scanning, Labeling, Applying, Manifesting:

Podcast: Elevating Order Fulfillment: VRCs & SLAM Efficiency in the Modern Warehouse

Right-Size Your Packaging

How SLAM Saves on Shipping Costs

Starting a SLAM Journey

Prevent Chargebacks Via SLAM Equipment

Why SLAM Should Include Dimensioning Equipment

Know Your Barcode Scanners

Why A Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor Can Play A Critical Role …