Effective pest control is a must for the warehouse and shipping industry. Because large inventories often come from different locations and are stored together on pallets, a comprehensive pest management system is a priority in logistics.
As a hub for incoming and outgoing shipments, the last thing professionals want in their facility is a pest infestation. In addition to common pest pressures, logistics outfits have a unique challenge in mitigating pests from global points of origin. It can be challenging to practice proper pest control in the logistics industry when dealing with consistent deliveries, but it’s critical to do so.
From damaging product packaging to causing customer rejections of your shipments due to pest activity, common warehouse pests — such as ants, cockroaches, and rodents — can wreak havoc on facilities and their profits. Pests can threaten your bottom line, endanger your employees, and jeopardize your reputation. And more serious pest cases can even lead to facility shutdowns.
Identifying potential areas for pest activity at your facility and implementing preventive measures is an essential first step to excluding pests before they intrude. This process of preventing pests from entering your logistics center starts with supply chain verification and includes your facility’s maintenance, pest prevention and sanitation programs. Attention to these details can significantly reduce your chances of a pest problem.
Pest Hot Spots in Your Facility
Warehouses and distribution centers provide shelter and access to food and water — all the necessities for pests to survive. Some areas are more prone to pest activity than others, so regular inspections should be conducted to check for signs of a pest problem. Potential hot spots include:
- Loading docks: This high-traffic area also provides access to the interior of your facility, welcoming pests with open arms; this is especially critical at inbound docks.
- Storage rooms: Dark, crowded packed storage rooms provide great quiet hiding places for pests. Plus, limited foot traffic in these areas allows pests to remain undisturbed.
- Pallets: In addition to providing more pest hideouts, pallets can offer a tasty snack to wood-eating pests.
- Dumpsters: While the scent might be off-putting to humans, it signals dinner to pests like cockroaches, ants, rats, mice and more.
- Employee break rooms: Unwashed dishes, dirty countertops, and food particles attract hungry warehouse pests.
Common Warehouse Pests
Understanding the type of pests affecting your warehouse facility will depend on the products being handled, packaged and stored. Below are some of the most common pests you should be prepared to handle.
- Rodents: Rodents have the ability to fit through gaps as small as a quarter inch and will chew on just about anything. Look for darkened grease marks on containers or along walls, as they are a tell-tale sign of rodent activity. You should also keep an eye out for any visible gnaw marks and droppings on incoming shipments.
- Cockroaches: They can enter your facility through shipments on boxes, containers, sewage lines, or crawlspaces below ground. Once cockroaches are in your facility, their cryptic lifestyle allows them to hide efficiently and multiply rapidly.
- Ants: Ants are one of the most common structural invaders, and the presence of a few ants usually indicates a larger infestation. These pests are typically located in window frames and inner walls or under hidden places like slab floors and appliances.
- Wood-Eating Pests: Wooden pallets attract termites and wood boring beetles, both of which require special treatment from your pest control provider. These pests can eat you out of the expensive pallets you need to keep your inventory stored properly and moving along the supply chain and often will spread to other wood sources in your facility quickly.
- Stored Product Pests: Stored product pests include beetles, weevils, and moths that often feed on stored goods, grains and animal-based fabrics. These pests will damage goods that are stored and transported with their eating habits. Damage to boxes and containers are the most common visual sign of their presence.
- Spiders: Spiders are found in subfloor air vents, upper corners of rooms and other dark areas of your facility. They normally enter through open, poorly screened windows and doors, as well as through cracks and gaps around door and window frames. They can also be an indicator of other pest problems, since they feed on other pests.
Pest Prevention Tactics
Now that you know where to look for pests, how can you prevent them from interfering with your business? Fortunately, there are many steps warehouses can take to reduce pest problems. Here are some of the preventive measures that can be taken and how to incorporate pest management as a functional part of your overall integrated pest prevention program.
- Secure your exterior: It’s important to understand that pests need very little space to get into a building. Therefore, sealing holes and cracks can make a big difference in stopping pests from entering different areas of your facility. Have maintenance staff conduct routine inspections for gaps that need repairing. Examine walls and floors for cracks and fill them regularly with rodent-proof sealant. Ensure intake vents are sealed with mesh to help prevent pest entry. Monitoring these external areas and promptly fixing issues as they arise can help prevent pests from entering your warehouse.
- Create and implement a sanitation schedule: Establishing a regular cleaning routine can help keep pests out of your facility. Clean product spills immediately and sweep, vacuum and wipe down work areas and docks daily. Use an organic de-greaser to eliminate residual buildup on machinery and around your drains that otherwise attract pests. Remove extra clutter in your facility and avoid using cardboard boxes for storage. Make the most of your sanitation process by implementing a First In-First Out (FIFO) Policy, which ensures older products are always at the front of your storage areas. This not only helps maintain stock-rotation best practices but also minimizes the conditions that attract pests, since pests tend to dwell in the spaces that remain undisturbed.
- Use monitoring devices: Rodent traps, bait stations and pheromone traps are all effective options to help detect and eliminate pests. Each of these options offers helpful data that you can analyze with your warehouse pest control provider and provide trend analysis as part of required verification programs. This information can be used to address any potential problems early allowing for a quick corrective action; and the earlier action is taken, the easier it is to eliminate existing pests as well as prevent recurring problems. Monitoring devices can also verify which pest prevention tactics are working effectively for your facility.
- Ensure Supplier Verification is in place: All indoor efforts can go to waste with the introduction of one pest-riddled shipment. Don’t bring a pallet of goods directly from the transport vehicle into storage areas. Instead, break it down in the loading dock and have a employee inspect inbound loads for grease stains, droppings, holes from boring pests and other signs of damage. And don’t forget to check the pallet itself for holes and piles of what looks like sawdust, both of which are signs of wood-munching pests. If pest evidence is found, isolate the load and have your pest control provider conduct a thorough inspection to determine the appropriate corrective measure.
- Involve and train employees: Including your employees in your pest management efforts can significantly reduce pest infestations. Your first line of defense against pests starts with your employees, so pest control training is essential. These training sessions can help your employees recognize the benefits of taking preventive measures, such as storing products above the floor on open-back shelving and keeping the break room tidy. Once armed with pest control knowledge, they can play a proactive role in monitoring and reporting pest problems to help avoid future disruptions to your business.
Work to implement these preventive practices and work closely with a pest management professional to ensure your facility is safeguarded against pests. Along with day-to-day preventative measures, a strong pest management program ensures that your goods, reputation and bottom line are continuously protected.
Finding signs of pests in your facility? Contact Western Pest Services to help create a customized integrated pest management plan.