An organized warehouse can help ensure you have inventory available when needed. Some 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 can 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. So instead of cardboard boxes, plastic containers are ideal for warehouse storage.
Some essential plastic containers are stackable and nestable, easy to stack up and lock in place. With different sizes, these containers are good for small or larger items. Molded fiberglass containers are also ideal for storage as they protect from the elements during transport or in colder environments.
Clear totes are great for keeping items organized and visible, with easy access to parts and smaller items. Plastic pallets are also great for keeping containers organized and moving around, as they are more stable and sturdy than their wooden counterparts. However, 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 exactly what item you have. Companies use, for example, SKUs (stock-keeping units) 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 must buy UPCs online.
There is a cost to purchase UPCs, so you should not buy UPCs for items that will not enter retail. Some good rules of thumb for labeling is do not to reuse labels for different products, to use both characters and letters, not to use other companies labeling systems on your own, and to keep it simple.
Other options include newer smart label systems such as RFID that can hold product data in the label and allow quicker tracking; however, these systems can be expensive.
Once you decide on a labeling system, you or other workers must stack items physically. Therefore, it is a good idea to put similar items in the same warehouse area to find the items you need more quickly.
Creating a warehouse floor plan can help determine where to put which items. You could also decide on your warehouse’s shipping, receiving, and administrative areas.
Vertically stacking items is better than horizontally stacking items for most items as it will save space. However, vertically stacking items and keeping similar items together will reduce the time needed to find items and 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 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 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 in alphabetical order is another good technique for organizing your warehouse. After creating 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 to reorder items. For example, 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 the 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. Then, after you have set up your warehouse and seen its operation for a couple of weeks or months, you can evaluate its good and bad points and consider making changes.
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