Warehouses are, by their very nature, packed with lots of different items, pieces of equipment and stock. Organising this kind of space can be difficult, but it is essential to improving throughput and productivity, and enable effective stock rotation. Here are our top tips for organising your warehouse.
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Heavy-duty warehouse shelving is the absolute cornerstone of a well-run, efficient warehouse space. These metal-framed units with super-strong shelves can hold 500 or or even 600 kg per shelf in some cases. You can usually find warehouse shelving units in a range of heights, as well as bays that can be added on to or re-arranged easily and quickly.
Things to look out for: overall and individual shelf load capacity, size, adjustability of shelves, assembly ease, maintenance requirements, and of course – price.
Shelves are great – no doubt about that. They can be made even better though, simply by adding labels to show where different items are. This is particularly handy for higher shelving units, where you don’t want to be climbing ladders or platforms to access stock only to find out it wasn’t what you were looking for.
You can use warehouse labels for everything – simple descriptions, barcodes, times and dates for expiry/turnover, etc. Advanced options include magnetic labels that can be moved around as much as you want, and super-adhesive labels that stay in place permanently. Most will be reusable, so you can simply clean off the old information and input the new; others will incorporate a pouch for you to insert data cards into. You can also choose between floor, wall or racking-mounted labels, to suit your space/requirements.
There’s a lot of rubbish generated in the average warehouse – including packaging supplies and defective products. Place bins at key spots (at the end of racking runs, for example) to make it easier for your employees to get rid of the waste. You’ll find that your warehouse is much cleaner, tidier and safer (you’ll be removing a lot of slip and trip hazards as staff are less likely to simply drop pieces of card, plastic or tape on the floor). For the environmentally-friendly option, use specific bins for different materials, and locate the bins throughout your facility.
Optimise your packing
Re-designing your packing or despatch station for optimal throughput is an excellent way of improving productivity. Use tape, plastic and wrapping dispensers where necessary (you’ll also have less waste) and ensure that the station is logically laid out for maximum efficiency.
Most improvement can be identified by assessing your warehouse. If you find that you have high-traffic areas, or one-way systems are forcing employees to go a long way out of their way, you can address these issues with some clever changes to the layout.
Any other bottlenecks that you identify can also be resolved through a thorough assessment of the facility and how it works – try to conduct this assessment regularly, as the needs of the employees, the business and the site may change seasonally or with new additions to your stock portfolio.