A warehouse is central to the supply chain of a business and fulfilment of orders for customers. It stands to reason then that the warehouse environment should be one of order and organization. Yet sometimes businesses may find themselves in a situation where their warehouse space is one which is cluttered and slightly disorganized. Items that are packed or loose are stocked somewhat haphazardly and in an inefficient manner. This in turn can pose a challenge when trying to find and identify where items are located and what items they are.
One remedy to these types of challenges is by implementing effective labeling systems. A strategy based on a labeling system for the warehouse can prove very beneficial to your business by restoring organization and traceability. But what types of labeling systems are there? How can they be employed within the warehouse? And what benefits can they provide?
What type of warehouse tasks your business performs, the size of your warehouse, and other factors will determine what type of labels you would want to employ. The idea is to understand which areas of your warehousing processes could be improved by labels and then start to implement them systematically.
The first label, and probably one of the most common ones, are rack labels. Rack labels help to identify the section and items located in a particular location of the warehouse. With rack labels locating items becomes more efficient and makes the warehouse staff’s work easier. By reducing the required time to find items, more orders can be fulfilled quicker increasing productivity. As well by having your racks correctly and systematically labeled you will reduce the amount of human error when picking items. Rack labels are a very cost effective solution as they are inexpensive and if you get them printed to industrial quality, they will last a long time.
Location and bin labeling are very similar to rack labeling but now start to get down to a more focused level. Locations and bins tend to be the individual areas where inventory in stored for picking purposes associated to your fulfilment process, and tend to be easily accessible. A location can technically be any type of storage space whereas bins tend to hold smaller individual items (think screws, or nuts and bolts). By having location and bin labels warehouse staff know exactly what location they are picking from and can easily correlate the location to the type of items being stored within them. Locations labeling also helps create a more efficient picking process and the locations can in fact be integrated within the process to offer suggestions to warehouse workers of where they should be picking inventory from (the same can apply for your putaway process). By labeling your locations you can improve the efficiency of your pick and putaway processes and, similar to rack labels, avoid mistakes or increased search times associated with nonlabelled locations.
Floor labels can be extremely useful for organizing the space of your warehouse. There are many applications within the warehouse where floor labeling can be quite beneficial for efficiently marking open type spaces. For example, you may have areas within your warehouse where you stage items for shipping. Or else space reserved to temporarily hold or keep items before putting them away in a storage location. Floor labels allow you to clearly mark and divide these spaces according to your needs. By clearly marking these spaces you ensure that items are not haphazardly left in an open area. As well floor markings can aide in mapping out traffic routes within the warehouse to help with putaway and picking processes and enhance warehouse safety by creating a standardization for how people, and vehicles like forklifts, move through the warehouse. This provides clarity and vastly improves the efficiency of how the warehouse space is used and divided.
The next label type is license plate labels. License plate labels are applied to the containment unit of the inventory itself, whether it be a box, palette, drum, or whatever other method of storing the inventory is used. The license plate is applied to each individual inventory containment unit (multiple times even) and helps to manage the inventory. The license plate not only helps to track items better but also aids in your receiving process by preparing and assigning inventory license plate numbers to inventory that is inbound, speed up warehouse processes by reducing manual data entry, and help manage inventory by set allocation rules, amongst other benefits. By having a license plate label applied to your inventory you’ll always know everything about the particular inventory and optimize your management.
Another label type are magnetic labels. Magnetic labels are more of a practical application rather than a specific labeling system per se. Magnetic labels do provide some advantages to warehouses as they are very versatile. Warehouses are at times forced to change configuration either due to new customer or product requirements as well as variables such as expansion or contraction. Whatever the case may be magnetic labels allow warehouse managers to easily re-label racks and locations without having the need to scrape off adhesive labels. They are also incredibly durable so you will have them for the foreseeable future making them a good long-term investment.
What’s more is with all the label types we’ve discussed you can add greater efficiency to your warehouse by introducing barcode scanning to your labels. By having barcodes on your labels workers can scan these locations to immediately ascertain what is being stored in a particular location or area. As well the barcodes will help in standardizing and optimizing all the processes related to your labels, improving efficiency and productivity.
As we can see label systems can have numerous advantages for warehouses. They are a cost effective way to organizing your warehouse, eliminate errors, and by integrating them with technology your processes will improve and by optimized. It certainly takes a little time and investment but by having an organized warehouse supported by labeling you will see much improvement in your business’ inventory and warehouse management.
If you’re looking to improve your warehouse organization by implementing a WMS that supports labeling and barcode scanning, get in contact with us by clicking the link below. We’d be happy to speak with you.