Depending on its size, a company uses anything from a backroom to multiple warehouses to store its inventory. The space designated for merchandise and supply housing is an essential tool in meeting customer demand. A poorly designed warehouse leads to incorrect product counts, slow distribution speeds and frustrated workers. A business’ goods are best kept in an area with a practical layout, clear labels and integrated data capabilities.
Designing a layout
A warehouse should be designed for simple navigation. Products and supplies must be stored in a facility that is functional and easy to maneuver.
As an organization designs its warehouse, it must take the requirements of inventory and equipment into account. Larger merchandise calls for huge spaces and shelving capable of supporting massive amounts of weight. A company may use forklifts or other pieces of large mechanical equipment needing wide hallways for passage. If employees report a consistent problem with the layout, the space must accommodate reorganization to meet daily demands.
The physical layout should also be also clean. Construction Equipment Distribution Magazine suggested an tidy workspace makes physical inventory counts and picking more efficient and gives workers a sense of pride in their workspace. Items hastily thrown on the shelf leads to confusion. Neatly stacked containers with front-facing labels facilitate barcode scanning and other worker needs.
Label shelves, rooms and products
Older employees should assist in the development of a physical inventory system that is easy to adopt. As a new worker begins performing warehouse duties, navigation of the aisles and shelves of a clearly labeled space is intuitive.
Demand Media recommended companies choose their labeling strategies at the layout planning stage. Larger warehouses with diverse storage capabilities need more classifications. Different rooms are labeled based on what types of items are stored there. Each shelf needs a specification of utility. The inventory itself should have information tags. It is essential labels are followed so that merchandise isn’t lost or forgotten.
Proper labeling is informative and doesn’t allow for interpretation errors. The Distribution Team, an inventory specialist, advised companies to use visual signifiers, such as color coding, in their warehouses. Easily readable signs on each shelf allows for quicker training and fewer mistakes. Product markings that include barcoding tools stops incorrect information from being captured by workers.
Turn a physical space into a digital one
A physical space geographically separated from the rest of the company creates a gap in communications. Software data tools can be used to close the distance between the warehouse and the rest of the business’ information.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV software turns a physical space into a set of data. The system creates a layout designed to work with the rest of the company’s infrastructure. Seasonal demands dictate warehouse storage location. NAV barcoding tools use product labels that are captured by workers and provide real-time information on distribution flow.
As a business observes the data provided by the ERP system, it can redesign its warehouse to meet growing customer demand or other process changes. Software tools give the physical space the flexibility of virtual settings.
Managers can download the “Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync” white paper to learn more about warehouse navigation tools.