The right warehouse packing equipment can help save a business

High street retailing is facing many challenges, with less money being spent in brick-and-mortar shops. To make up for this shortfall, most large retailers have set up online stores to create extra income. Traditionally, high street retailers such as Crew Clothing, Next and John Lewis had warehouses that mainly processed a few large orders of multiple items that were packed and shipped to their stores. Online orders tend to be for one or two items rather than the large bulk orders that the warehouses were used to. This requires a different type of packing station and warehouse packing equipment that can deal with a large number of small orders.

The best online system with quality warehouse packing equipment can save an ailing retailer.

Warehouse packing equipment

Packing benches and tables need to be suitable for processing many small orders and picking trolleys are required to get items to packing stations.

A packing station need not be complex. There should be a packing table or bench to put items on ready to be packed. Packing materials need to be at hand: boxes, paper, bubble wrap, tape, labels and so on.

A system to process orders needs to be implemented. This is normally automated, with a computer system to track orders, direct pickers to item locations, print labels and packing slips, and mark orders as dispatched. A laptop or tablet device needs to be at the packing station for the operator to confirm when an order has been packed, and perhaps a label printer.

Most warehouses will use a carrier or Royal Mail to deliver packed orders. There has to be a system to move packed and labelled items to an area ready to be loaded onto the deliverer’s vehicles.

Though warehouses systems can be efficient, no system is 100% error free. Sometimes the wrong item arrives at the packing station, or the item is damaged, or it arrives before the rest of the order. To deal with this, there should be an area where wrong items and those waiting for the completion of an order can be stored. To maximise space, this area could be a shelf beneath the packing table.

A packing station needs a dedicated area with enough warehouse packing equipment to handle the current volume of orders. There should be room for expansion to deal with the future growth of orders. This expansion could be in the form of larger packing tables where more than one worker can operate, or duplicate packing stations that can handle the increased business.

Getting goods to the packing station

Picking trolleys are the best way to get items from warehouse shelving to the packing stations. Several types of trolleys may be needed depending on the type of goods handled. Small to medium-sized items can be transported by flatbed trolleys. Large boxed goods may need a box trolley to safely move them. There are specialised trolleys to transport awkwardly shaped items like chairs and sofas.

In small to medium warehouses, staff can be familiar with where everything is stored, but in large warehouses, with thousands of items, it is impossible to remember where every item is located. A system to find items is required. The simplest way is to indicate on a picking document the shelf location of the item. The operator needs to then work out the best route to find items in multiple item orders. A more automated system will direct workers to item locations using audible tones or lights that show the picker the exact item location. These systems can also plan optimal picking routes.

Once order items arrive at the packing station there needs to be a space to unload them without getting in the way of the packing workers. Items could be left on trolleys, or a separate shelving system or large table used to place items that are waiting to be packed.

Warehouse packing equipment quality

If a business wants to save money it can buy cheap packing tables for a few pounds, but this is a false economy. In a busy warehouses, equipment gets a lot of use with a large number of items dealt with at the packing station. A cheap table will break after a short period. A business is then faced with both the cost of replacing the table and a costly delay when packing is interrupted.

It makes sense to invest in high-quality warehouse packing equipment. Buy packing tables and benches made from tubular steel with strong wooden tops and shelves. Tubular steel is strong and lightweight. British warehouse equipment manufacturers employ skilled metalworkers who make sure that every weld used in constructing equipment is strong. Good quality equipment will last for many years before needing replacing.

A warehouse equipment manufacturer will be able to design bespoke warehouse packing equipment if their standard range does not meet the exact requirements of a packing operation. They can make benches and tables to custom sizes to fit the available space. When designing a new packing station, consult the equipment manufacturer, because they will have knowledge about creating efficient and organised packing stations.

Safety

A good packing station is a safe environment to work in. Tables are at heights that are comfortable to work with. Packing materials can be easily be reached without stretching. Workers are trained in the correct way to lift heavy items on and off the pacing table.

Good packing tape dispensers are easily operated without the danger of their cutting edge injuring the operator. There is sufficient space for trolleys to deliver goods without danger of colliding with packing station workers.

Many warehouse packing stations operate all day, and some overnight as well. Staff often have targets to pack so many order an hour. This is fine as long as the staff have regular breaks to relieve the stress that targets can cause.

A carefully designed packing station that uses quality equipment makes the operation of a warehouse smooth and efficient. An efficient online order processing and packing system that sends out orders promptly can make the difference between business success and failure.

To find out how the Steely team can design and manufacture the ideal warehouse packing equipment for you, fill in the form below.

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Posted by Mark
28th June 2019
Retail & Warehousing

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