Operating a warehouse requires an eye for detail, as well as a clear vision of the big picture. Managing the floor is a constant fight between disorganized chaos and your attempts to keep things neat and tidy. The enterprising floor manager knows the solution to these problems lies with maximizing storage space.
No one strategy works for every facility, but there are certain tricks to getting the most out of your storage options that apply to every site. Here are some ideas for saving space, reducing waste, and running a more efficient warehouse.
Make Use of Multiple Options
Containers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. From storage tote boxes to industrial bins, the choices are endless. All the same, a choice needs to be made. The solution that is right for you depends on the project. Assembly lines, piecework, and workstations, for example, benefit from smaller, more accessible storage. Stackable bins, trays, and divider boxes allow line workers to grab what they need quickly and easily. Having a central storage cabinet is also good for parts your employees need often, but are needed across the floor. Keep in mind the process pipeline for your specific parts. Fast moving items should be accessible at all times, whereas slow items are more appropriate for the shelves.
Keep It Clean
No warehouse is immune to moisture, humidity, and dirt. But you don’t want parts to rust on the shelves either. Minimize waste by having a process to clean your storage containers in between uses. This keeps contaminants out – especially important for sensitive items like electronics – and prevents product loss.
Store Your Spare Boxes
Every item in a warehouse is a trackable part. This includes the boxes themselves. If you already have a tracking system in place, incorporate your spare bins and boxes into it and designate a location to keep them. This means you always know where to go for new containers, and lets you monitor how many are available.
Use Stackable Bins
These are an effective solution for high-demand pieces workers pull across the floor. The advantage to stackable bins over other types, though, is they’re small enough to fit on a desk. This works wonders for things like washers and screws in piecework, or even something as mundane as paper clips.
Minimize Container Sizes
If parts pickers often pick boxes that are too small – thus needing multiples – or too large, then you may have too many size options for containers. While it may seem small, efficient use of space is everything in a warehouse. Whether it means a cart gets overloaded too quickly, or too many units are being used, you may need to standardize the sizes of your bins.
If your containers aren’t clearly marked, your storage system is bound to run into problems. Always label a storage bin for what the part is, and make sure your floor has a plan for finding each bin at any given time. More and more, warehouses are going modern and integrating labels with scanning technology for a more advanced tracking system.
Be Smart with your Shelving
Make sure open bins with high demand pieces are accessible on the floor. Workers need to be able to reach the parts from ground level without strain. Plan your organization around this principle and keep higher demand items lower to the ground, and closer to the floor.
Don’t Forget Bags
It may seem surprising, but storage bags have a place in the warehouse too. Especially if your facility uses textiles, foam, and packing materials. The advantage to a bag is it can be stored easily compared to a bin, which usually requires shelf space. Being able to hang a bag of packing peanuts, for example, can save much needed floor space.