In a warehouse, order items are gathered and then prepared for shipment. This is a straightforward process, but there are many factors that can slow the packing operation down. Warehouses that pick and pack orders need to do so quickly, as customers expect to receive the goods they have ordered as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to speed packing processes up – here are some tips:
One order at a time
The first method of efficient packing is to pack each order one at a time. If an order has more than one item, all items need to arrive at the packing station at the same time. One order item should not arrive before the others, as it would cause the packer to have to wait for the other items before they can complete packing the order.
The warehouse layout and locations where items are stored should make it easy for pickers to locate all order items and bring them to the packing tables.
Don’t sacrifice accuracy
In the quest to pack items as quickly as possible, accuracy should not be sacrificed. A customer who receives the wrong items may be dissatisfied with the service and not order again.
Doublecheck each order or use a warehouse management system that recognises items by their barcodes and ensures that all order items are packed and the shipment is addressed correctly.
Improve speed beyond packing
Packing is one part of a system. All of the system parts need to work well together, from ordering stock to be delivered to the warehouse and picking order items to packing and tracking deliveries. If there are inefficiencies in any of these processes, the system will slow down.
Items need to be in stock, pickers need warehouse systems to quickly and accurately locate items and packers need to be able to pack as quickly as possible. The warehouse layout should maximise storage space and provide easy access to all items to help this process run smoothly.
If the picking system is not efficient, incorrect items may arrive at the packing station. These mistakes may be spotted by the packer, but there will then be delays whilst the picker locates the correct items.
The packing process involves using equipment and packing supplies such as packing tape, labels, boxes and laptops or tablets. All these items should be in easy reach of the packer. This may require packing tables with shelves, paper dispensers and label printers. A laptop or tablet stand is useful to easily record packing progress.
Packers should not have to twist their bodies or stretch to reach items. All packing equipment should be stored neatly and securely so that they are not an accident risk to the packers. Packers should also take regular breaks.
To minimise danger from viruses, the packing tables should be regularly cleaned and sanitised.
Listen to the packers
Packers work many hours every working day packing items. They often think about ways to make packing quicker and more efficient. Managers and business owners should listen to any efficiency ideas they have, as it could be that something that will improve productivity and save money.
It is unlikely that any packing system is perfect, as there is always room for improvement. A change to the packing process does not have to be major, as frequent small improvements can make a significant difference to the speed of packing.
Picking and packing is a complex process, with many elements involved in getting the orders from the warehouse to the customer. Investing in a warehouse management system can make a huge difference. Modern management software can handle everything from the ordering and delivery of inventory and accurate item picking to the monitoring of the packing process and tracking of the journey from the warehouse to the customer’s delivery address.
The aim of any picking and packing system is to satisfy the customer. Companies operate in competitive markets, and a poor and slow service can send customers to competitors. Whatever system or equipment is used in the warehouse, it should be targeted towards complete customer satisfaction, achieved by accurate and speedy order processing.
Training and motivation
When recruiting new packers, it’s important they are trained in the most efficient and swift methods of packing orders. Training should not just take place at start of their employment – ongoing training is important, and it should also cover health and safety issues.
If fragile items are packed, packers will need training in ways to minimise the risk of damage.
Packing is not the most stimulating job in the world, and after long hours, packers can become tired and slow. It is therefore important to keep them motivated by praising them for work well done – motivated workers are less prone to make mistakes. Rewards for packing a target number of items per day could also be given. These could be in the form of high street shop vouchers, experience days or certificates.
The type of material used in packing can affect the packing speed. Review the type of packaging used, which could be boxes, padded bags, plastic, corrugated cardboard or wrapping paper, and determine whether it is the most efficient choice, along with the method of sealing packages. Also consider whether the boxes are the most efficient size – does the packer have to take time adding bubble wrap or other padding to prevent items moving around and becoming damaged during transit? If so, consider whether a smaller box could be used to cut down on the time spent protecting the items.
The best equipment
A packing station needs quality equipment that is both strong and well-designed for the job. This is where we at Steely Products can help. We can recommend the best picking and packing tables from our range or, alternatively, design a bespoke packing equipment solution for your warehouse.
Give us a call or get in touch using the contact form below. We are happy to discuss all the ways that your packing station can be designed for maximum speed, without sacrificing accuracy.Get a free quote