Warehouses are complex, bustling hubs of business where hundreds or even thousands of items of stock are moved around on a daily basis. Goods come in, are stacked, go out – and the cycle is repeated. As any warehouse manager will tell you, it is absolutely imperative that stock be located and moved quickly and efficiently. There is no room for wasting time – delays result in drops in productivity and profits. To ensure fast and easy stock flow, a good labelling system for the racking in a warehouse is a must.
You cannot rely soley on staff members to simply know where items are stored – if they are absent from work, this can prove very problematic. And in massive warehouses, it may not be possible to remember where each unique stock unit is. A labelling system can be thought of as a kind of map, where each rack is marked like a house would be – it is given a street address that helps people find it.
There are many different ways to labelwarehouse racking, with no perfect or 100% correct system. The best method for your needs may be different to that of another warehouse. However, some basic guidelines do exist. A consideration of these and the dynamics of your warehouse can help you to determine the best way to label your racking.
These days, barcodes and digital scanners are taking centre stage when it comes to labelling warehouse racking. They are highly efficient and can streamline stock storage and movement. However, some warehouses, particularly smaller ones, still rely on so-called old-school methods, using labels without computers. This is a cheaper but more time-consuming option.
Whatever system you opt for, the most important thing is to keep it as clear and simple as possible. It needs to be easy to understand and follow – new staff should not require a manual to figure it out. As a rule of thumb, the aisle, racking section, shelf level and shelf position should be included in a label – further specifics can be added according to the complexity of the racks. Odd and even racking numbers should be arranged on opposite sides of the aisles – just like houses on a street. Numbers should start from one side of the warehouse and go across to the other side. They should be decided while facing the back of the warehouse.
It is important to allow room for flexibility in your labelling system – the racking may be expanded or shrunk, and stock may change with time. It may be a good idea to use three-digit labelling with this in mind. Similarly, the labels themselves should be easily removable – magnetic labels or paper that can be slid into plastic sleeves are two popular solutions. You need labels that are not going to drop off or make a mess. The labels also need to be bold, clear and easy to read. Workers should not have to strain to see them. While it may seem unnecessary, putting up layout maps on the walls of the warehouse can go a long way towards familiarising staff with the labelling system and intricacies of the stock storage.
Following the abovetips will help you design an effective labelling system for the racking in your warehouse.