Efficiency is crucial to keeping a warehouse running smoothly and keeping costs at a manageable level. It is important to be able to deal with the preparation and dispatch of stock to retail outlets or suppliers quickly to ensure that deadlines are met.
One aspect that can present a challenge to that is the fact that working in a warehouse is a hard physical job. This can leave employees vulnerable to injuries that will require them to take time away, which in turn will reduce the efficiency of your operation.
Ergonomics can help to prevent that though, as we will outline in more detail below.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is defined as “the ‘fit’ between people and their work”. What that means is that an ergonomic workspace is one where everything from the job itself to the equipment and organisation of the space is designed to fit the needs of the employee doing the work.
In a warehouse, this can involve looking into whether the layout of the building has been put together with the aim of making working as comfortable as possible. It can also be about ensuring that any equipment used has been designed to maximise ease and efficiency and that people are well suited to the jobs that they are doing.
So, how exactly can applying this principle to your warehouse save you both money and time?
An efficient layout
Applying ergonomic theory within a warehouse will make it a more effective place for working. An example of this in action would be the way that your warehouse floor is laid out.
Ergonomics would suggest that it should be planned out so employees have to walk the least possible distance when collecting stock for packaging and dispatch. Reducing the amount of walking they have to do for that part of the job will save valuable time and also keep employees from becoming tired.
This is important because tiredness will slow them down. It can also lead them to make mistakes when preparing orders that can cost your business money.
This aspect also applies to the preparation of stock for dispatching. Ergonomic workspace design would prioritise having everything that is needed for that task – from the cardboard boxes to the computers required to process the orders – kept within the same section of the warehouse.
An ergonomic layout reduces wasted time and energy, and therefore saves money.
Reducing illness and injury
Ergonomic design can also reduce the illnesses and injuries suffered by those working within a warehouse. In practice, this would mean that the shelves and racks used to store goods are at a height that employees can comfortably reach without having to strain upwards or bend down constantly.
It would also involve using warehouse equipment that has been designed with ergonomics in mind. For example, the trolleys used to pick items that are to be dispatched and transport them to the packing area should be able to carry multiple items at the same time, while also taking most of the strain of heavy loads.
This means being made of hard material like steel and having multiple levels for loading items on. It also means being fitted with strong castors, so that employees are able to move them to where they need to go more easily.
Equipment design also applies to the packing element. Packing tables that apply ergonomic principles should be fitted with everything required to complete the preparation of orders for dispatch.
All of those features should also be at a height level that is comfortable, or be adjustable to suit people of differing heights.
Equipment of this sort will save time by increasing speed and productivity in both collecting and packing items. It will save money by cutting down the number of back, neck and muscle strains suffered by employees.
These can lead to people being absent from work, which will leave your warehouse short-staffed and greatly impact on its efficiency.
The right person for the job
The third part of warehouse ergonomics is about making sure that the skill set and personality of each worker makes them the best choice for the job that they are doing.
Those members of staff who have the skills needed for administration work should be handling that. On the other hand, those with physical strength should be responsible for loading goods from the shelves and racks and transporting them to where they have to go.
Fitting the right person to the right job will save your warehouse time and money by cutting back on the likelihood of mistakes and by ensuring that every employee is enthusiastic and fully engaged.
At Steely Products, ergonomics are central to the design of our warehouse equipment. Use our contact form now to order or get in touch with us.Get a free quote