A disorganised warehouse often results in it taking staff members much longer to track down products for each new order. It could cost your business thousands every year. Not to mention leading to unhappy
customers who end up receiving their products late, or at all.
By creating a more logical order for items stored out in the warehouse, you and your team can improve
picking and packing times significantly. It will certainly be time well spent.
While every warehouse is different, here are a few rules of thumb from our warehouse manager Craig that can help you improve warehouse slotting reclaiming those lost hours.
1. Consider the layout of your pallet racking
Taking the time to design a pallet racking or shelving system around the products you need to store can
dramatically improve order fulfillment. A well-thought out storage structure will allow staff to easily move around the racking and fill orders efficiently.
Redesigning your shelving doesn’t have to be costly.
In many cases, your existing materials can be reconfigured within your current warehouse. Frames and beams can be disassembled and even reworked to be better utilised within the space. Often this is a far more economical solution (and less disruptive) than moving to a larger site.
Talk to your industrial storage experts to discover the best approach for achieving a more efficient storage system for your business.
2. Define Pallet Locations
Giving each pallet space a logical name or code will help create an easy system for allocating and picking every product in your warehouse. Think of it like a library or seating chart. Each item will have its very own, predefined pallet or carton space. It means any staff member can look up the exact location of any one product in the warehouse.
Being able to match up your pallet locations with your warehouse management software means that no product will get lost or forgotten. This makes for a much more efficient stocktake process too.
3. Avoid confusion between products
When it comes to picking orders, you want to be confident staff are able to locate and pack the right product for any given customer. Every business has it’s own unique range of products, so consider what is going to make the process easy for everyone.
For larger products that are easy to distinguish between SKUs, it can help to keep similar categories together in a common area or zone. The warehouse team will automatically know which aisle houses these particular types of products.
However, for smaller items that look quite similar, it can actually help to separate products by placing them in different locations throughout the warehouse. While this may seem counter-productive, it significantly reduces the risk of warehouse staff confusing SKUs and packing the wrong item for an order.
4. Add product images to boxes
Have you ever had trouble trying to read a product code on a carton situated on higher beam levels? It’s not an easy task – even for those of us with good eyesight.
An image of the item can make locating products on higher beam levels much easier. It takes out the guesswork. A picker or forklift operator will instantly know whether it’s the right product for the order.
There’s no fancy equipment required. These days, it’s just as simple as taking a quick photo on a smart phone or digital camera, printing it and sticking it to the box. A reasonably quick process in comparison to how much time it saves when picking orders.
This trick is especially useful when you consider any casual workers or future employees who will not be familiar with your products.
5. Identify your fastest moving items
It’s a good idea to store your most popular products in the most accessible pallet spaces in your warehouse. For example, this may be on the floor or lower beam levels, closest to the packing area. As these items will be moved in and out of the shelving most frequently, the time saved here will add up considerably.
An important consideration for busy areas of your warehouse, such as this, is to ensure you have adequate racking protection. This will help avoid damage to your racking or products from forklift incidences, not to mention reducing injuries to staff.
6. Place larger and heavier items in the first aisles
By placing your largest and heaviest products in the first few aisles in the warehouse, you’ll ensure they always end up along the base of a pallet. It reduces the chances of damaging any products that may buckle under the unnecessary weight. As staff move through the warehouse, adding more and more items, the pallet will already be arranged correctly – avoiding wasting time restacking pallets later
For more great tips to improving your warehouse picking and packing flow, see this post on how to increase warehouse efficiency.