The manufacturing and fulfilment industries are fast-paced environments where efficiency and accuracy can be the difference between success and failure.
Mistakes at any stage will cost a business in time, money and reputational damage. Therefore, companies within those industries are always looking for ways of improving their processes.
Firms sometimes neglect the packing part of their everyday workflows when they are looking to optimise them for efficiency. That is a serious error, because well planned packing processes can enhance employee happiness, health and productivity, as well as the profit margins for your business. The design of the packing stations is crucial to achieving those results.
Why is the design of the packing stations important?
You might be thinking that as long as the job of packing items for dispatch is getting done, making improvements to the design and layout of the packing areas is unnecessary.
The key issue is whether the tasks involved in packing are being completed as quickly and correctly as they could be, and whether your current stations maximise employee wellbeing and productivity. There are three things that a well-designed packing station should prioritise:
The solution to all three of these lie in implementing ergonomic design. Ergonomics is defined as being ‘the study of human efficiency within a working environment’. The idea behind it is that a work area that is designed with the ease and safety of employees in mind will lead to greater efficiency and productivity, as a direct consequence of that.
The mistake that many warehouse managers make when it comes to ergonomic design is the belief that it is purely about comfort and visual appeal, and therefore is a luxury that they cannot afford.
In reality, it is about looking at the needs of your employees and seeing how the areas that they work in can be designed to best meet them. That means what they need to avoid workplace injuries like muscle strains, but also what is required to allow them to work as rapidly and accurately as possible. Ergonomics simply recognises that the first of these has a direct impact on the second.
If your employees are picking up those sorts of low-level injuries due to packing station design flaws, they will work more slowly and could also be absent at times. That will leave the stations short-staffed and increase the potential for errors by putting the remaining employees under greater pressure, leading to exhaustion.
Ergonomic design is also about ensuring that every piece of equipment employees require to complete their tasks is as close to hand as possible, reducing the need to travel from one area to another, which wastes time and lowers efficiency. The idea is to make workflows as natural and problem-free as possible through a layout that eliminates all unnecessary movements.
What does a well-designed packing station look like?
It is all very well to cite the importance of ergonomic design in principle when creating a warehouse packing station, but what does this look like when actually put into practice?
The station should be designed so that employees have space to work without getting in the way of each other. Consider how many people you have working on packing in a typical day as well as the standard size of items that have to be packed. Then order it to provide the room needed for an efficient, comfortable and safe working environment.
The packing tables or benches are the single most important item of equipment, and they should maximise comfort and efficiency. Ideally, the table should be able to store all items that a packer will need to complete his or her work, from the cardboard boxes and tape to the tools and a computer monitor. That will eliminate extraneous movements.
It should also be adjustable in height, so that taller or shorter employees are not forced to bend into unnatural positions to work, leading to back or arm strains. We stock an Adjustable Packing Bench that combines both of these features.
The packing station should be kept tidy, with cleaning times scheduled for periods when work is not taking place, as well as bright and airy. Both of these elements have been proven to boost the mental wellbeing of employees, and happy workers are more productive.
A well designed packing station will also contain some element of automation. Conveyor belts that deliver items for packing to the station and then dispatch areas will streamline and speed up the process. Just bear in mind at all times that the goals when designing your packing station are to maximise the efficiency, safety and comfort of your employees.
At Steely Products, we supply height-adjustable steel packing benches and tables. Use the form below to place your order.Get a free quote