What is going on at Express and in our industry. New product introductions and other items of interest.

How to Label a Warehouse

How to Label a Warehouse

How to Label a Warehouse

From being an underrated principle in warehouse management, warehouse location has inevitably become of great importance in ensuring efficiency of warehouse operations. Without learning the fundamentals of Warehouse Management Systems, you could invest a lot of money on warehouse designs and it would all end up in shambles. Warehouse labeling systems ensure a great load of benefits, such as, decreased manual entry errors, efficient accessibility, increased turnover, optimal safety.

Warehouse Best Practices

Warehouse location labeling greatly involves a lot of attention to details, hence, that makes it a tricky business. However, there a few industry standards one should follow to avoid errors and potential confusion from the pickers.

  1. Shelves should be numbered from the ground up. This makes it easier to add more height to your shelves as you grow, and also eliminates the possibility of relabeling your shelves.
  2. To allow the system to accurately read locations alphanumerically, it is best advisable to use a zero in all numbers less than ten (i.e., 01, 02, 03, 04).
  3. Consistency. Lack of consistency in labeling is an easy way to screw up your system and employees.

To save a lot of time, and money on the long run, it is best to keep these practices in mind.

Essential Warehouse Planning Steps

If you’re currently in the process of planning a new warehouse or distribution center or expanding your current facility, there are several key preparation steps to keep in mind to ensure that your warehouse labels and signs meet your needs.

  1. Your label manufacturer should be included on the project planning team. Poor preparation inevitably leads to errors, or rush production charges. However, to avoid this, don’t wait too long to plan for your barcode location labels and signs.
  2. Order the right barcode signs and labels for your environment and technology. The following should be considered:
  • What type of scanning technology would be used?
  • What kind of surfaces would the labels be applied on?
  • Would vertical location rack labels be used?
  • What sort of operation would be used?
  1. Bulk storage locations and signage needs should be identified. This involves a careful survey and analysis of your floor plan to know how many bulk storages would be needed, and how they could be identified.
  2.  Ensure your racking and facility are ready for labeling. The racks should be cleaned to avoid dirt and dust, which can diminish a label’s adhesive property. Facility and equipment access should also be considered, as well as power availability.
  3. Preprinted LPN Labels should be ordered in advance. Preprinted LPNs are typically less costly than labels printed in-house. LPN labels will undoubtedly be of great significance in your warehouse as it efficiently identifies pallets, cases, cartons, totes and other movable units.

Label Locations / Applications

  • Multi-level racks: Warehouse rack labels are used to streamline workflow by making items and sections easier to identify for employees. They help identify the right products for inventory management, storing, and shipping purposes. As with most rack labels, multi-level racks are a type of rack labels, that can easily be color coded for identification, and they can also be placed on aisles for easy accessibility.
  • Shelves: The common and preferred method of warehouse shelf labeling is by section. Each shelf within a unit should count up from one and continue numerically until you reach the end of a shelf aisles. Depending on the warehouse, you could decide to put your shelf value in the last position of your location code.
  • Floor Tags: Warehouse floor labels are manufactured to survive heavy floor traffic. These floor tags are durable, and are ideal for large warehouses with several rooms. They can be easily installed, and moreover, can be customized into any shape, length, size and are designed to withstand solvents, oil and other contaminants.
  • Warning and hazard signs: For safety, warehouse signs can help point out hazards to employees working in the plant. Since most warehouse workers operate heavy machinery and have to maneuver through sharp corners and aisles, the importance of warehouse signs can’t be overemphasized. Employees should be well-oriented and should be familiar with the proper procedures and potential hazards within the warehouse, and these safety signs are helpful for notifying workers of forklift safety warnings, clearance height and capacity alerts, quality-control warnings, and safety reminders.
  • Forklifts: Immensely essential in warehouse operations, forklifts can be used to stack materials (both the small and the more massive ones) in places that are not easily accessible by humans. Aside from carrying goods and materials, forklifts can also be used to transport large and hefty equipment.
  • Pallets: The use of pallets in warehouse management has proven to be an effective way to handle and store materials. It makes loading and unloading the goods an easy task, and serves mainly as the base of the goods when transporting them. Pallets are available in different sizes and shapes to match the requirement of the cargo.
  • Bins & totes: Bins and totes are containers which are mainly used for the storage and handling of parts and materials in warehouses. Totes are portable, box-type containers that may collapse to conserve space when not in use, while bins have a slightly opened end which aids in easy removal of its contents without moving the bin from its position on the shelf or rack. These bins should be properly identified with barcode labels to help employees easily locate items.

Types of Warehouse Labels

Barcode warehouse labels play a critical role in efficiently running a warehouse.

  • Magnetic Labels: For warehouses that regularly reconfigure their rack locations, the most popular choice are magnetic location labels. They can be manufactured in a wide range of color and sizes, and are easy to place and move, and moreover, durable.
  • Removable Labels: For warehouses that regularly carry out reconfigurations, removable label racks make it easy for relabeling rack locations.   They are simple to install, and as with other label options, they can be designed in different sizes.
  • Permanent adhesive: Most permanent adhesive labels are applied on materials that require a one-time label. Permanent adhesives create a strong bond between the label and the surface. However, it is worth noting that no label is completely permanent as, time, moisture, and environmental conditions such as heat, cold, solvents would diminish the effectiveness of the adhesive.
  • Retro-reflective: Retro reflective labels have a layer of microscopic glass beads allowing for the light to directly bounce back to the scanner. This ensures quick and effective barcode scans.
  • Long-range: Long-range labels can be scanned up to 45 feet away. They are specifically used to solve challenges of stock locations that are difficult to label.
  • Signs: Warehouses operate effectively when there are signs to direct traffic, warn employees of hazards, provide instructions, and assist with organization. These visual cues provide people with the necessary information they need, to perform tasks quickly and effectively.

Essential Warehouse Technology

In order to efficiently run a warehouse, several essential technologies should be put in place to ensure effectiveness and save time.

  • Labels – mobile printers or custom manufactured labels.
  • Scanners: Barcode scanners allow employees to locate inventory, pick inventory when it is needed, and conduct cycle counts.  Scanners with mobile computing facilitates more visibility of their inventory. The scanners increase efficiency by creating a mobile interface for picking orders and receiving inventory. Handheld devices are of great use because of their portability and relatively long range. A long range scanner is beneficial when accessing products stored on racks because theses scanners can reach the barcodes on any shelf. These scanners offer real time wireless data capture, which saves time.
  • Inventory management system: At its core, an inventory system functions by tracking two main components of your warehouse — receiving (incoming) and shipping (outgoing). An inventory system also includes tracking movement, relocation, raw materials (decremented) and finished goods (incremented). Physical inventory counts could also be done for accurate tracking of inventory levels as well. The goal of the Inventory System is to accurately know current inventory levels and minimize understock and overstock situations. It is worth noting that having a proper inventory system can help in the growth of your business by, avoiding stock issues, maintaining stock levels and automated reordering.

Benefits of a Properly Labeled Warehouse

The advantages of having a properly labeled warehouse includes:

  • Automated picking & fulfillment: a properly labeled warehouse leads to high efficiency, which in turn leads to fulfillment of the employees, and satisfaction of the customers when their products are delivered on time.
  • Complete inventory tracking and asset control: You get to track the movement of materials coming into the warehouse, as well as materials leaving the warehouse. This is a hallmark of efficiency as it eliminates overstock and understock situations.
  • Leverage emerging IT technologies: A properly labeled warehouse maximizes the use of IT technologies in warehouse management efficiency.

No matter the size of your warehouse, selecting the right labeling plan is critical as it plays a great role on the effectiveness of your firm. In order to carefully pick the right one that works for you, it is best to always make an assessment of the infrastructure and organizational plan of your warehouse. As you have noticed, choosing the best warehouse labels could be a tricky business.