A Cheat Sheet for Reducing Facility Damage Rates with Automation

3 minutes to read


A large number of distribution centers operate with a 1% gross volume loss from damage while products are in their care and control. For example, when a business conducts $10M in product handling, a loss of 1% to damage equates to $100,000 lost every year, so a damage percentage of 1/100 is considered unacceptably high.

While it may appear difficult to achieve zero percent damage rate; it’s not impossible if you take proactive measures to reduce your damage rate with automation. To do this, organizations need to first identify where and why damage occurs and then determine what type of automation will be the most effective in nullifying breakage.

Step 1: Identify the causes of warehouse inventory damage

Do any of the instanced below happen in your facility? Check the corresponding box below if the answer is yes.


  • Do employees touch the product more often than necessary?
  • Do multiple employees manage a manual inventory tracking process?
  • Does the product sit on a cart, unlabeled, for periods of time?
  • Does the product go without appropriate labeling?
  • Is it possible for the product to be crushed, stacked improperly, or hit during storage or transportation?
  • Are any the pallets, themselves, damaged?
  • Are cases sometimes stacked in a disorganized, ununiform, and unstable manner on a pallet?
  • Does low-light prevent employees from seeing labels and obstacles?
  • Is there any clutter in the aisles where staff and forklifts navigate?
  • Are any racks or shelving over-loaded with too heavy a weight?
  • Are there zones or areas of the distribution center where accidents happen frequently, and additional safety equipment could be installed?
  • Is it possible for forklifts to hit racks or low-ceiling-height areas?


Step 2: Create a concentrated plan that eliminates damage risk 

Make sure you incorporate the steps below into your damage elimination plan.

  1. Sustain operator training and involvement by asking the employees, who perform the work every day, what could be improved.
  2. Perform continuous improvement of process by reviewing and brainstorming on how things could be better.
  3. Purchase the correct material handling equipment
  4. Start in the areas that have the highest volume of manual touch points or the highest area of concern


How automation can help

Self-driving vehicles literally take over the heavy lifting, drastically decreasing the risk of package mishandling and thus reducing the damage rate.

When reducing the facility damage rate with automation; it’s important to balance safety vs. speed.  Automation can work at non-stop, at a consistent pace without lowering their quality of output or risking accidents due to fatigue. Automation helps reduce the number of manual touch points on a product, freeing employees up to concentrate on higher levels of quality control.

Choosing the right equipment is imperative to a successful system and its importance lies in choosing the best way to move product efficiently and safely.

Want to know more?

Learn about Vecna Robotics’ entire fleet of self-driving vehicles from our Automated Material Handling and Hybrid Fulfillment brochures. Vecna will be displaying a wide range of vehicles, including its autonomous Tugger and Pallet Jack at booth #S4583. We’ll be showcasing our Automated Material Handling, Hybrid Fulfillment, and Workflow Optimization solutions, along with the self-driving vehicles and technology that fuels them.