Store Products, Not Pests: Best practices for product storage to help prevent pests

Materials handling, like any business, relies heavily on numbers. Numerical insights often hold the key to smoother operations and increased productivity. There are some numbers, though, that many materials handlers don’t know that they should: 0.08, 0.06 and 0.05. These are the sizes in inches of openings that rats, cockroaches and mice can fit in, respectively. These measurements can translate to money, literally: a rat can fit through a hole the size of a nickel; a cockroach the thickness of a penny; and a mouse the size of a dime. And the cost of these pests in your facility can certainly add up.

With so many cracks and crevices, storage areas offer the perfect place for these pests to take shelter. And as shipments move in and out of your facility 24/7, the risk of letting in unwanted pests runs high. Plus, each of these pests brings their own consequences:

  • Rodents can cause serious structural and electrical damage by gnawing through walls and electrical wires. Their powerful bite makes them able to chew their way through almost any food container. Rats and mice are known to directly or indirectly transmit 35 diseases, including Hantavirus, salmonellosis and typhus. This combination makes them a big problem for facilities. And they may be “delivered in” from trucks idling at dock doors.
  • Cockroaches enjoy eating their way through carboard and glue, putting your storage materials at risk. Once these pests make their way into your facility, they can easily find a new home among your storage. And unfortunately, these pests multiply quickly. While species like the German cockroach may only live 100 days, they can produce up to 400 offspring in their lifetime.
  • Flies can cause more than just a buzzing annoyance. Flies pick up germs from the surfaces they land on and transfer them every time they land. The bacteria they leave behind can transmit dangerous diseases such as coli, Salmonella typhi, Shigella and Staphylococcus. Flies can also signify a larger sanitation issue that needs to be addressed.

Not to mention, signs of pest activity among products can make for unsatisfied customers, or worse, a soiled reputation. That and the above are just some of reasons that pest prevention is a necessity. From keeping your operations focused on maximizing profits to prioritizing the safety of your employees and customers, your pest prevention efforts can help save an extensive amount of money, time, and cause for headache. Check out these pest management tips:

  • Address the outside of your facility. Eliminating possible entry points helps keep pests from entering your facility in the first place. Pay careful attention to the perimeter of your building. Inspect doorways and windows for gaps, installing new screens or door sweeps where necessary. Be sure attractants like landscaping and dumpsters aren’t touching the outside walls of your facility.
  • Store your product with care. Between stacks of product and the walls, maintain an “inspection aisle” wide enough to enable your service technician to inspect behind and between storage areas. Split food storage up into sections, to protect one area with pest activity from quickly spreading throughout all items. Space products to provide cushion, allowing you to act if you find out that an area is compromised.
  • Rotate your product. The longer product sits, the more vulnerable it is to rodent activity. Reduce the chance of your products offering harborage by regularly moving products within the warehouse. Products that enter your warehouse first should be shipped out first, meaning the oldest item should always be sent out first.
  • Train your employees. Your employees are your facility’s first line of pest control defense. Establish a process on how to report and record pest activity, so no potential issue goes overlooked. Ask your pest management provider if they offer resources or training sessions to help inform your employees about their imperative role in pest prevention.
  • Inspect incoming shipments. Even if your warehouse protocols are on par, there’s no guarantee that the same can be said of your suppliers. That’s why it’s critical to inspect every skid, every time. As soon as your facility receives a shipment, you should inspect for signs of pest activity. Don’t let a pest-carrying shipment enter your warehouse.

Insects and rodents can easily be transferred into storage facilities on pallets of goods or when “trapped” in shrink wrap at the point of origin. From your warehouse, they can then be shipped out in the same pallets, or in re-palletized and re-wrapped items. That’s why it’s important to inspect inbound shipments. This includes floor packs, as they are being stacked on pallets at the loading dock doors.

Protect your facility from the effects of pests, using these tips as a guide. And remember to call your pest management provider at the first sign of pest activity. They can help create a customized solution for your facility and help ensure the problem doesn’t grow out of hand. Afterall, the last thing your customers want is to find a surprise guest when they open their latest product shipment.


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