Warehouses aim to speed up the order fulfilment process, and a packing station needs to be organised to quickly dispatch orders with no errors. There are several ways to optimize the packing process and the best use of warehousing packing equipment. Here are six pieces of advice.
1. Start by understanding the whole operation
A packing station is not an isolated component of the warehouse; it is part of a system that handles goods arriving at the warehouse, picking items from shelves, packing them and dispatching to the customer.
Review the whole operation and how the packing station fits into it. Is the packing station in the right location? Should high-demand items be stored nearer the packing station?
2. Identify bottlenecks
There are several areas where bottlenecks or delays can occur. If conveyor belts automatically send items to the packing station, do they accumulate at the packing station faster than they can be processed?
Are all packing materials and tools easily accessible? If not, the packing equipment may need adapting, adding laptop or tablet holders, paper dispensers, extra shelves and other ways to make tools and materials easier to reach.
3. Identity what happens when errors occur
It is important to have no errors at the packing station. The correct items need to be dispatched to the customers and packed securely so that there are no breakages in transit.
Mistakes need to be easily discovered then corrected; for example, if an incorrect item or duplicate ones arrive at the packing station, this should be spotted and the pickers alerted. Shelving or an extra packing table are needed to temporarily store the incorrect items until they can be put back on the shelves.
4. Make sure you have the best equipment and materials
It is important that a packing station has the best equipment, tools and materials for the job. Packing tables, benches and shelves need to be made from tubular steel for strength. All equipment should be designed to last for many years under heavy use.
Use automated systems with scanners and keyboards that track the progress of all orders. Packing supplies such as envelopes, bags, wrapping paper, bubble wrap and labels should all be stored within easy reach.
Remember to have space for reference materials, training manuals, instructions, charts and other essential resources.
5. Consider 3D space
Workers at a packing table operate in a 3D space, above the table, below it, to the left the right and behind the packer. Put frequently used items in front of the worker, and less used items behind them. Use a packing table with a shelf beneath the top to store items that are infrequently accessed.
6. Look to the future
A packing station needs to be flexible so that you can respond to future business growth. Ideally, the packing station can be modified, with extra storage space and packing tables added. If more staff need to be recruited to handle extra orders, the packing station should be extended so that packers can work comfortably together.
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