A warehouse is the bustling hub of many commercial and industrial operations. Accordingly, it needs to be well organised and efficiently run. A poorly organised warehouse can cause workers to lose time looking for and retrieving inventory; it can be dangerous as it increases the risk of accidents; and it can negatively impact productivity. How can project managers, who already have their hands full on the job, ensure their warehouse is as stress-free and smoothly operational as possible?
When thinking about how to keep a warehouse organised, the first, and easiest step, is to keep it clean. A roster can be drawn up and warehouse zones allocated to different employees. As a rule of thumb, floors should be swept daily, rubbish bins emptied before they are full, and shelves and racks dusted regularly. Unused cardboard, boxes and pallets can be recycled – a special bin can be installed in or near the warehouse, keeping the workplace clear and helping the business do their part for the environment. A clean warehouse is a safer warehouse – there is less risk of bumping into something, or slipping – for example on an oil leak from a forklift.
The next step in organising a warehouse is to label all goods clearly – pictures can be used to enhance this. In addition, barcodes and scanners can be used with accompanying software to make the process easier. Shelves and racksneed to be labelled too, and similar goods should be grouped together. It makes sense to stack heavier goods lower down on shelving, with lighter goods on higher levels (though all too often the opposite is seen in practice). Taking these small actions can go a long way to streamlining workflow in the warehouse.
Heavy duty, compact shelving is a key feature in keeping a warehouse organised. The right types of shelving and pallet racking systems to meet the needs of your warehouse need to be carefully selected and installed. Common choices include rivet, wire and steel shelving. Whatever you opt for, the system should be designed to maximise the use of vertical space.
Another useful strategy when thinking about how to keep a warehouse organised is to store faster-moving inventory near the shipping area, or somewhere else where they are easily accessible. It is also important to do regular checks of inventory and to clear outdated or non-selling goods, so that they do not clutter the warehouse. Whenever new stock comes in, it should be unpacked and stored timeously – if it is not possible to do so immediately, a regular time should be scheduled for this. Stock should not be allowed to pile up in corners or in the aisles.
Regular evaluation of the daily warehouse operations is helpful in ensuring consistently good organisation. Floor staff can be consulted for feedback on ease of movement within the warehouse and overall efficiency of processes. All staff members should be well trained and equipped with uniforms and other necessary personal protective equipment, like boots and gloves.
A few final tips on how to keep a warehouse organised include: reducing the number of shipping cartons to two or three types – this ensures ease of storage (and can cut costs); using conveyor belt systems in larger warehouses where this would be appropriate; and making sure that all paperwork and warehouse documentation, including health and safety forms, is properly filed in the site office.