An organized warehouse can help you make sure that you have inventory available when you need it. Some of the ways to keep your warehouse organized are to have a labeling system, stack your items consistently, keep your warehouse clean, and use visual techniques to help you and other workers quickly identify inventory. After organizing your warehouse, you will be able to implement methods to keep your inventory in check.
Plastic Containers and Pallets
A warehouse contains hundreds of items in storage. While the typical storage device is a cardboard box, cardboard boxes can be damaged easily, potentially damaging merchandise. Instead of cardboard boxes, plastic containers are ideal for warehouse storage. Some essential plastic containers are stackable and nestable containers that are easy to stack up and lock in place. With different sizes, these containers are good for small items or larger items. Molded fiberglass containers are also ideal for storage as they can protect from the elements during transport or in colder environments. Clear totes are great to keep items organized and visible with easy access to parts and smaller items. Plastic pallets also are great for keeping containers organized and moving containers around as they are more stable and sturdy than their wooden counterparts. Although, plastic containers and pallets are great for storage, it means nothing if one can’t identify and locate merchandise when needed. For this, an efficient labeling system is a must.
A labeling system helps identify an item quickly and without any doubt to exactly what item you have. SKUs (stockkeeping units) are used by companies as an internal tool to identify inventory. You can create your own SKU system to track inventory in your warehouse. A UPC (Universal Product Code) is another labeling system that can be used to identify inventory. Unlike SKUs, there can be only one unique UPC, so you will need to buy UPCs online. There is a cost to purchase UPCs, so you should not buy UPCs for items that are not going to enter retail. Some good rules of thumb for labeling is do not reuse labels for different products, do use both characters and letters, do not use other companies labeling systems in your own, and do keep it simple. Other options include newer smart label systems such as RFID that can hold product data in the label and allow for quicker tracking; however, these systems can be expensive.
Once you have decided on a labeling system, you or other workers will need to physically stack items. It is a good idea to put similar items in the same area of the warehouse, so you can more quickly find the items that you need. Creating a floor plan of your warehouse can help determine where to put which items. You could also decide on shipping, receiving, and administrative areas for your warehouse. For most items, vertically stacking items is better than horizontally stacking items as it will save space. Vertically stacking items and keeping similar items together will reduce the amount of time needed to find items and will also help keep aisles free from clutter as you will not need to move items around as much. It's very important to keep the aisles free from clutter because cluttered aisles will increase the amount of time needed to find items and may cause items to be placed in the wrong section of your warehouse.
Visual techniques to identify areas and items can be helpful in organizing your warehouse. For example, one technique is to print out pictures of what items are inside of each box. These pictures are taped to boxes or areas of your warehouse where items are located. These pictures make quick visual identification possible. Another technique to organize your warehouse is to create large signs for items and sections of your warehouse. Arranging items by alphabetical order is another good technique to organize your warehouse. After you have created your warehouse, creating written processes for receiving, shipping, and item storage is a good idea. Creating these processes will help keep your inventory in check.
You should use stock control methods to determine when you will need to reorder items. Using a computer system or even just a basic spreadsheet, you can track all items in your warehouse and see decreases/increases in inventory through shipping/receiving. You can set up alerts based on minimum stock level that will let you know when inventory levels are low so that you can reorder. You can also have regular stock reviews to determine your current inventory levels. These stock reviews will let you know if your computer stock levels are the same as the physical amount in your warehouse. After you have set up your warehouse and seen its operation for a couple of weeks or months, you can evaluate good and bad points of your warehouse and consider making changes.
Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in keeping things organized and in order. She currently writes for FlexCon, a leading vendor of stackable plastic storage bins and boxes.