Warehouse Labeling: The Dirty Laundry
If you are opening a warehouse, or if you’re considering a redesign of a warehouse that isn’t turning a profit, you may skip the labeling process. It’s not that important, right? If you ask a dozen or so successful warehouse managers, you might find that labels are right up there with layout, storage system logistics, and avoiding overtime and inventory loss.
Lack of proper labeling on warehouse merchandise and on locations within a warehouse can be the main reasons for major financial losses. What you usually end up with are deficits in inventory and also in labor hours looking for merchandise that may or may not exist. Every time you need to search for inventory, you are wasting time and money…and possibly a client.
When you balance those losses against the cost of a proper warehouse labeling scheme, you might discover that working with an efficient labeling process can cut into those financial losses. But, what do you need to look for when you enter into the world of efficient workflow through proper labeling?
Here are some key features that will help make your labeling process smoother:
- It has been proven that the cost of labeling location within warehouses is far more efficient and financially sound than not labeling locations. Be consistent with three things in this area: label material, label location, and supporting technology. Warehouses that have temperature-controlled environments need to consider label materials that can tolerate those atmospheres.
Although you might want to get creative with label placement in your layout scheme, industry standards show that labels placed at eye-level and in standard locations on each shelf throughout the facility produce a familiar consistency that saves time and money. Think about contrast in printing and label color so labels are easy to read from a distance, and don’t place them so high or low that scanning the label takes more time than necessary.
- Next, you might deal with an inventory barcode scheme that coordinates with your work environment, because your suppliers and customers probably have their own barcoding requirements. Industry standards exist for a reason, and trying to reinvent the wheel is not feasible if you plan to deal with the world’s logistics. Before you begin labeling anything, make sure that requirements are aligned across the board to reduce future labor and time loss. Barcode schemes that are acceptable for all three parties include standard UPC and the GS1-128, so that can narrow your search down quite a bit.
When you’re dealing with merchandise at this level, you need to consider how you want to label the merchandise. Do you want to label each item, or do you want to label the case or pallet? Your business will dictate what you need to do at this stage. Then, you need to also decide what needs to be included in that barcode. Size, color, weight, number of units, and part numbers are just a small sampling of what you might include in your barcode. Think about inventory — when you have nightmares about that process, what do you realize you need to streamline that inventory process? Whatever you dream up is what could save your sanity as well as your money.
- Finally, on demand labeling within the warehouse environment can save time and money as well. On-demand labeling can reduce production slumps. Devices for labeling can be carried around the facility, and this convenience reduces trips to the printer (even the office printer) to create required labels.
These three simple steps are just the beginning to warehouse labeling best practices. We’ll go into these steps in more depth both here and in our knowledge base. Be sure to sign up for notices when we add a new blog post!
For more information about which products can help you streamline your warehouse process, contact us at…