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Who has a crystal ball to see into the future?

These days , senior managers, are having to make difficult choices (as we always do) about how much to spend, what to spend it on, and when to spend it. We all wish we knew with certainty what will be different with this economic cycle, but this time it’s even worse than normal… the stats don’t seem to be following the trends we have relied on in the past. This last horrendous economic cycle that began in 2007 just won’t stop! And at the World Economic Forum in Davos, some creative analysts at Oliver Wyman predicted the next downturn in April 2015 when some haven’t even gotten over the last one. What’s a manager to do and how do you plan for it?

One thing that hasn’t changed is the ongoing push (and success!!! – let’s not be shy about our great American Spirit at this 4th of July) in American Business to become more efficient while at the same time managing large capital costs. This helps us reserve cash flow necessary for survival in the downtimes. But the balance between getting the improvements and spending is tricky, it’s an art, and you can’t both spend money and save it at the same time.

One of the things you can do is to substitute alternate, lower-cost investments that get most of the results while making the investment itself much smaller. For those who need additional warehousing and dock space, have you thought of how to spend less while still keeping your operation going efficiently? Here are four things you can do to maximize results with minimum investment:

Need an extra dock?

One answer is to add a steel platform and yard ramp in your yard to unload additional trailers. This saves the cost of a major addition to add dock space or the cost of moving to a bigger, more expensive building. One portable dock ramp or a steel platform with yard ramp can be used 24/7 to increase the flow-through of goods.

Need extra floor space for operations?

Don’t move! Store what you do have more efficiently and vertically to free up floor space for other, revenue-producing activities. The problem is often unusually-shaped, heavy, or awkward pieces that just don’t store well in your existing rack. To solve the problem, call in an expert and design a custom cantilever rack that stacks the biggest “floor-hogs”.

Need more fork lifts, more drivers and more time to unload trucks?

You have good equipment and people, make them more efficient! Why invest in additional or replacement pit levelers that are subject to downtime – and make the dock shortage more acute. An alternative can be one of the less expensive, but highly efficient dock boards, such as the Speedy Board® by Bluff. One (or more) Speedy® Board can be used at multiple docks, and the driver never has to get off the fork lift to put it in place easily and quickly.

Need more rack space?

If you are running out of rack space, the thought may have occurred to you that you need more room, a bigger warehouse, additional rack or higher racking. But in the blink of an eye, a forklift careens into one of the posts putting 2 or 3 bays out of commission, and now things are more cramped and slower than ever. Maybe the solution is to protect what you have so that you are always at 100% utilization. You can minimize the chance for it being out of commission by protecting it with rack guards and post protectors. A smaller investment in protection can eliminate a bigger investment in racking or additional space.

So while we can’t all go to World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and hear the economic trends first hand, we can all take those insights and make them our own. Spend a little, get a big bang for the buck, save for a rainy day, and use good old fashioned American spirit to run fast, run lean. May you all have a safe and memorable 4th of July.