Is your warehouse just rows and rows of shelving units, piled goods, loose products and packaging material, or is it a well-oiled shipping machine designed for efficiency?
Are the keys to mastering your warehouse luck and instinct, or can you train a new employee in moments?
Any warehouse manager knows the constant battle against impending inventory chaos. Let your guard down for a moment and products can be misshelved, or a new product can be haphazardly piled at the end of an aisle. After a long shift, products can be misplaced, or trash can be left cluttering a shelf.
Better Organization for Your Warehouse
The key to fighting warehouse chaos is logical organization. You need to consider not only storing inventory, but also accessing it quickly and easily for shipping. Goods aren’t only being shipped out, but also received in. Space needs to be designed for maximum efficiency.
It’s a constant dance. Workers need to quickly identify and retrieve items with the least effort possible. That means not only organizing where product goes in the warehouse (which we covered in a previous blog), but also how you communicate that organization, that logic, to the people working in the warehouse.
Let’s look at how your choice in warehouse labels and signage can help improve your shipping and warehouse efficiency.
Types of Warehouse Signage and Labels
There are several types of labels or signage you can use in the warehouse. Selecting the right tool for your need is the key to efficiency.
Depending on your warehouse, you may not have much space for signage. Look at signage in common areas or break rooms as a way to reinforce best practices and help prevent bad habits that lead to inefficiency. Look at rotating signage in common areas or on doors to provide even more support for the team.
The most common labels in a warehouse, rack labels indicate where products are stored. The goal of your rack labels should be to convey information as quickly and efficiently as possible. That information could include product location such as shelf level or position. Look at using color coding on the label, as well as arrows and a short inventory code for fast retrieval. Due to the limits on the size of rack labels, focus on conveying relevant information as quickly and efficiently as possible.
These are designed to help a warehouse worker identify a product location quickly or to convey additional critical information like a safety warning. Aisle labels are typically placed in a prominent location, normally at eye level, and are color coded. For example, red labels are warnings while white labels hold information on the rack or aisle.
Floor labels are large, designed to stick to the ground and designate areas of the warehouse. They are often used at the entrance to an area or at the end of an aisle. They are made of a durable material to withstand traffic, wear and tear, or harsh contaminants. Floor labels are often designed to deliver information quickly, using colors or abbreviations, but can also incorporate barcodes and logos.
Many warehouse managers are using RFID labels as a core component of their warehouse strategy. Today, RFID is easy to implement. Active RFID labels transmit data automatically, eliminating human error. With an RFID reader, workers can quickly retrieve product information, including location data. Keep in mind, RFID may not be possible for all warehouses or operations. A device for accessing the information is also necessary.
Tips for Your Warehouse Labels
There are a few things to keep in mind as you consider your warehouse label strategy:
- Quality matters: Not all labels are created equal. A damaged warehouse label or a label that won’t adhere to your surface isn’t doing your warehouse strategy any good. You need labels that can withstand the rigors of the warehouse.
- Customize the labels: Off-the-shelf labels aren’t good enough for most operations. Labels that are poorly designed or hard to use cause problems. Work with a company that understands warehouse operations and label technology to design your warehouse labels using the latest best practices.
- Purchase for consistency: The key to a successful warehouse labeling program is consistency. Lost labels or changes can lead to confusion and inefficiency. Keep extra labels on hand so that you can quickly replace a label if one is damaged or lost.
- Document your strategy: Make sure your warehouse label strategy is documented. You’ll need to communicate the strategy to new workers, and refer to it in the future. Keep the documentation on hand and readily available.
Getting Started with Warehouse Labels
Not every label will work with every warehouse. Warehouses and shipping operations keep a number of materials and products. Cold storage, dry storage, even toxic materials and worse, can wreak havoc on some labels. Discuss your location and needs with a label and warehouse expert who can help you select the best solution possible.
No label can last forever. Keep a record of your labels so you can reorder when you need to. Also consider that your warehouse needs may change, so you’ll need to regularly re-evaluate your strategy and adjust as needed.
If you have questions, or would like to discuss your needs with a label expert, then contact GO2 Partners today. We’ve worked with many of the largest ecommerce shipping companies in the world, and handled some of the most complex projects. We have the experience and resources to deliver solutions for you.
We’re here to help.