In order to run a successful warehouse business, one must have pretty high standards when it comes to organization. Amazon did not become the world’s largest internet retailer, selling every product imaginable, with a warehouse that looks like this:
We all know that time has the ability to slip away from us -- which is why our lives sometimes become utterly messy and disorganized. But we can’t let our chaotic lives get in the way of how we run our businesses. By considering these seven rules, you will be guaranteed to maintain a successfully organized warehouse -- even at those moments when time gets the best of you:
Warehouse Organization Rule #1: Invoke the 5S Methodology
In the 16th century, the Japanese created an effective strategy to maintain organization and order in the workplace. The advantages of executing these methods in your warehouse include increased levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and safety -- all of which benefit your bottomline.
- Sort (Seiri) - Do an evaluation of what inventory you know is necessary, and what you know is not. Clean out the inventory that you believe is no longer useful to the profitability of your business. This will result in the reduction of clutter and unnecessary obstructions in your warehouse.
- Set in order (Seiton) – Once you have eliminated all of the extra clutter, it’s time to organize! Come up with a strategy to make all of your inventory easy to find. Doing so will save you time and money. Plus, it will help eliminate product loss.
- Shine (Seiso) – Before doing anything else, deep clean your entire warehouse. This includes cleaning floors, shelving, machinery, tools, etc. Doing so can minimize several types of safety hazards from problems associated with anything from dust collection to slipping on spilled liquids in the aisle ways.
- Standardize (Seiketsu) – Set your standards high! Come up with a way to make sure your employees understand every process that goes along with maintaining the cleanliness and organization of your warehouse.
- Sustain (Shitsuke) – Do not let your hard work go to waste. Keeping your warehouse clean may seem like a no-brainer, but things can get carried away faster than you think. Cleaning is the easy part; not reverting back to old habits is the hard part. Design a process that will guarantee the up-keep of your warehouse. For example, create a weekly cleaning schedule that employees are required to follow. Or, assign each employee a “zone” as their responsibility to maintain and keep clean.
DIFFICULTY OF IMPLEMENTATION: High. This method can make or break your organization strategy because it takes very strategic planning that may consume more time than desired. Not only that, but in order for this method to be a success, ALL employees must cooperate and put forth the effort to maintain your new warehouse plan.
Check out this video to learn how to initiate the 5s phases in your warehouse using 5S floor tape to make your warehouse more organized.
Warehouse Organization Rule #2: Pallet Racking Systems are a MUST!!
Some of the most successful businesses like Costco and Sam’s Club would quickly diminish without the use of pallet racking systems. This method of organization is beneficial for any business, small or large:
- Pallet racks reduce warehouse expenditures by millions just in the first year
- Plus, it makes material storage much easier and less overwhelming
- Since pallet racking systems can stock more inventory vertically, the horizontal space you save can mean the difference between needing to open an additional warehouse
- Not only will your warehouse look more organized with pallet racking systems, but it will also be much safer as these systems are made out of a completely reliable steel in terms of durability
DIFFICULTY OF IMPLEMENTATION: Moderate. It may be a large initial investment for a company to switch over to a pallet racking system, however, the results are unquestionably cost-effective and worth it overall. In addition, implementing a pallet racking system may also initially require quite a bit of extra labor; but for the most part, you only need to deal with this major transition one time. Once the investment has paid off and the guidelines of the pallet racks have been established and engrained, maintenance becomes very low.
Warehouse Organization Rule #3: Wire Containers are just as Useful!
Storing inventory and warehouse supplies in wire containers is the perfect solution for storing those items that may not be appropriate for pallet racking systems. Some benefits of wire storage containers include:
- The ability to collapse when not in use -- GREAT space saver!
- Greatly reduces product damage
- Durable but lightweight
- Neatly and safely stores 1,500-4,000 pounds of product
- Ability to be customized based on your company’s needs
DIFFICULTY OF IMPLEMENTATION: Low. Purchasing wire baskets for your warehouse probably isn’t going to break the bank. Their light weight factor and collapsibility will make your life in the warehouse way easier- and quickly!
Warehouse Organization Rule #4: Use Ergonomic Equipment
What exactly does ‘ergonomic’ mean? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ‘ergonomic’ is used to describe the achievement of optimum comfort while avoiding stress or injury in the workplace.
Believe it or not, using ergonomic equipment will help your company regularly meet its objectives by keeping employees happy and healthy. Business owners can only do so much. The success of a business heavily relies on the health and well-being of its employees. It’s amazing what reducing worker’s health care and compensation costs can do for your business and the morale of your staff. Without their daily motivation, you could watch your business go in a complete downward spiral.
Using ergonomic equipment in warehouses reduces not only liability issues, but also reduces the employee’s exhaustion and overall stress levels. Overworking your employees ultimately results in less productivity. Higher productivity means higher sales, higher quality of work, and less mistakes that cost you money.
DIFFIFULTY OF IMPLEMENTATION: Low/Moderate. The cost of buying or installing ergonomic equipment can be very high! Aside from the major investment however, the difficulty of operating such equipment is usually extremely low- plus saves an abundance of time, labor, and money. For example, pallet inverters are very easy for anyone to operate. Without such machinery however; the human body would need to physically move each load which for most major businesses is ultimately impossible and not worth the time.
Warehouse Organization Rule #5: RECYCLE!
Do ‘The Three R’s’ ring a bell? The ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ method is simple to implement and will ensure better organization for your business. The simplicity of running a “green” warehouse rests on the fact that most items in warehouses are readily recyclable.
- Reduce - As mentioned, clean out all unnecessary clutter and garbage
- Reuse - 54% of pallets are thrown away after just one use. The habit of reusing products in even the slightest way is extremely sustainable for the environment. Need some ideas?
- Recycle - Most types of wood, metal, steel, iron, and glass are recyclable- as long as the item is not damaged and the it can be separated into one single material
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Low. Providing your warehouse with recycling bins is extremely low in cost. The biggest challenge is learning to distinguish what is recyclable and what is not- which still does not require a lot of education. Just remember that most materials are recyclable unless they are damaged in some way. For example, a glass bottle is recyclable; if the bottle is broken, it becomes garbage and cannot be recycled. Once recycling becomes a mindless habit, it will seem entirely effortless.
Warehouse Organization Rule #6: Require Warehouse Safety Education
This is a bigger and more beneficial investment than you may think. One of the top ten biggest causes of accidents in the warehouse industry relate to the lack of safety education.
Make sure employees are fully trained in areas such as:
- Dressing in proper uniform-proper eyewear, shoes, gloves, etc.
- Equipment safety usage- how to use a forklift, preventing warehouse electrocution
- Common warehouse hazards- ventilation, falling items, etc.
But, how will these things help to improve the organization of your warehouse? It’s simple. The less accidents that occur in your warehouse, the more profitable your business will be. Not only will warehouse safety education save you money in potential hospital-bill compensation, but it may also save you the time, money, and hassle of having to hire and train a new employee with less product knowledge.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Low. Making warehouse safety education a regular requirement for your hiring process is low in cost and easy to do as long as your new hires are cooperative.
Warehouse Organization Rule #7: Re-evaluate your Warehouse Design
No matter how organized you may be, if your company’s sales are increasing each year, you will eventually need a new warehouse design layout or even a whole new warehouse to relocate to. It is recommended that this space evaluation takes place about every three to five years, depending on the rate at which your company notably increases sales.
As your company’s sales (hopefully) increase every year, this means space requirements in your warehouse will naturally need revising over time. Thoroughly consider each of these six points when evaluating your warehouse space:
- Is your facility capable of properly storing necessary items in a safe manner?
- Have you anticipated possible problems that may occur?
- Does your facility have a functional flow path?
- Have you established ALL of your facility requirements?
- Have you noted all of our obstacles?
- Have you maximized your current blueprint space?
See each of these warehouse design logistics explained in depth.
DIFFICULTY OF IMPLEMENTATION: High. This is one of those dreaded house-keeping tasks that we may want to ignore, but has to be done. It requires a very careful thought process, along with time and money. Without this step, however, expanding your business will be extremely difficult or flat-out impossible.