A warehouse is a hub of business operations, with hundreds or even thousands of items of stock coming in and going out throughout the day. It is imperative that workflow is kept smooth and efficient. You can’t afford to waste time sifting through piles of boxes for orders – items need to be easily retrievable from where they are stored on the shelves. In this article, we offer a few tips on how to arrange warehouse shelves for maximum productivity.
The first thing to do is to look at what stock is the fastest and most frequent moving. Warehouse managers are familiar with the so-called “80-20” rule, where approximately 20% of the stock makes up 80% of the total orders. This is hot stock – and should be positioned strategically. I make sure mine is stacked on shelves close to the shipping area of the warehouse, so it can be taken off the shelf and immediately prepared for dispatch. Slower moving stock can be stored further away.
The next thing to do is to check that your heavier goods are being stacked on lower levels of shelving – at ankle or knee height. This is a safety tip – it can go a long way towards preventing worker injuries. Lighter items can be stacked on higher shelves. The waist to shoulder zone is best reserved for fast-moving stock.
I find it useful to stack boxes vertically rather than horizontally – it looks neater and saves space too. I have also found that limiting my stock boxes to just two or three different sizes makes stacking them much easier – it helps make my entire storage system more efficient.
Another tip – one which you have probably heard already, but is essential – is to keep like stock together. That means assigning stock a category, and storing it in the same place. If you have thousands of different stock items, this can be a huge time-saver.
It is also highly recommended that you use a labelling system. Bar code stickers and corresponding scanners and software can make organising stock very efficient. If you don’t have these technological resources, identification tags and a paper database can be almost as effective. I would add that it is helpful, regardless of the system you use, to attach pictures of the goods to the boxes too.
In addition, the shelves themselves should be labelled, and you can go one step further by putting up signs at the top of the aisles. This may sound like a supermarket – but trust me, it can really help workers to find the stock they need.
When it comes to the question of how to arrange warehouse shelves most effectively, keeping the above tips in mind can help. It is also important to remember three other points. The first is to clearly label and respect safe load limits for your shelving. There should never be any overhanging or strained shelves. The second is to avoid leaving empty boxes on the shelves. They should be cleaned and cleared regularly. Finally, remember to keep your aisles and floor space clear of boxes – that’s what the shelves are there for.