Optimise Your Packing Process
Most modern day warehouses strive to utilize space successfully by keeping a good balance of merchandise flowing into goods-in and out through dispatch as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this effectively requires organisation right through to the packing environment to minimize disruptions. This can easily be achieved with the right packing station tools and flexible packaging option.
Firstly for an effective packing station to operate there has to be a minimum 2 meter space both width and length to ensure the work bench, operator and necessary packing materials have space around them. If you find that your struggling for space, look at your storage unit and scrutinize what areas could do with a clean up!
Next look at the packaging solutions you are currently using. This may seem inconsequential at first, however with a wide selection of flexible packaging available in the market these days you may find a simpler packaging solution that can not only speed up the packing process but quicken the overall efficiency of the production team. For a quick overview on how you can get the most of your packing station click here.
Alternatively let’s take a closer look into how a packing process can be improved from 2 angles …
Organise your packing station
For businesses with the recommended space consider using a purpose built packaging station or mobile workbench. This will not only offer an immediate benefit of a much neater and better defined area, but with both shelf and under counter storage in place essential packing materials are easily stowed away yet kept close enough for quick and easy retrieval. It can save a huge amount of time with your dispatch operations by simply ensuring your packing team have everything they need to dispatch consignments within easy reach! This means keeping regularly used items such as tape, cardboard boxes and documents enclosed enveloped constantly well stocked at your packing benches, instead of your team having to walk around the warehouse to find more the supplies they require.
Be sure to choose tools that are suitable for their use, for instance hard-wearing work benches. These are renowned for providing continuous support thanks to their durable and sturdy nature that can withstand varied weights and capacity, meaning they are suitable for most commercial and industrial environments. Taking less than 20 minutes to assemble, you can get your packing station up and running as soon as possible.
Asides the durability benefits, you will soon find that by creating a designated area for operators to work in, a steady flow of fulfilled orders start to build up without it halting the picking and packing process as it may have done so in the past.
For environments with ample warehouse space that are already making head way with an organized packing process, look at your current storage units and consider the benefits of using hi-rise racking to store pallets. While this may not have a direct impact on the way orders are packed and dispatched, it does free up floor space and creates a less cluttered working environment, providing a much better use of your warehouse footprint.
If find that you are already making the best use out of your storage by stowing bulky materials away on high racking, consider what replenishment processes are in place. Without a dedicated process mapped out you may see the team sitting around doing unrelated tasks because everything they need again must be retrieved. Try to organise your products so that regularly sold products with a high turnover are kept at low picking level, with a quick route to the packing benches. When hundreds of products have to be picked from the warehouse throughout one day, this can save valuable time by reducing the need for excess walking through the warehouse as well as less need for a forklift to be used.
Lastly, to improve the overall performance of your dispatching process, consider keeping your packing station closer to the goods in area, improving the processing time involved with accepting and dispatching orders which need a quick turn around.
Consider using flexible packaging
This means factoring in room to upgrade your current packaging type where possible. With this you can avoid using more than one type of outer packaging to protect your items during transit. Using a mailing bag and box to protect a small item may seem slightly excessive, and you may only require one of these. Crash lock packaging or boxes with a self seal strip are good options to consider if you are currently using standard 0201 cardboard boxes to pack and dispatch your items. These options will save time in the packing stage, as this eliminates the need for a dedicated operator to spend time sealing flaps up in preparation for easy packing.
Next consider how much packaging you are currently purchasing. While it is logical to just order more if and when needed it is worth pricing up how much it would cost to purchase a pallet of the right size box needed to protect your goods. This not only keeps your replenishment process ongoing, but ultimately prevents halting the dispatch process if you run out of packaging. You’d be surprised how much the cost per box equates to when sold in pallet quantities, you can save a considerable amount!
On the same note, assuming the products you dispatch are the same size custom packaging is a great way to optmise your packing process. With a custom fitted box you condense your packaging profiles and reduce the amount of void space within a parcel. Similarly, adjustable boxes are becoming a popular packaging option. With inbuilt creases these boxes are a perfect solution for businesses shipping products with a varied depth, allowing operators to slit the sides of the box according to their required height. Used in conjunction with air packaging you not only reduce waste but limit the packaging ranges in storage allowing you to take advantage of discount quantities when you buy a lot of the same product.
By using packaging that can adapt to its contents you not only avoid shipping air but speed up the dispatch process as the use of protective packaging is limited to just supporting the product during transit rather than filling in void space.
For businesses dedicating space to storing bulky inner protection such as polystyrene chips consider switching to air cushion protection.
Following the same principle as paper based packaging, air based void fill decreases the need for layers of inner protection and cushion protects your product with compressed air during transit. Not only environmentally safer, but storage friendly as the film is delivered deflated, air protection is a much neater way of protecting items in comparison to packing peanuts. This flexible packaging option also allows for partially inflated air films, which means you only need to use a few bags of film to fill in the necessary gaps in the parcel.
Switching to flexible packaging does not have to disrupt the current flow of processes you may already have in place, but with small and simple changes you may see waste reduced and a better use of overheads. And over the course of a shift you may potentially see dispatching becoming more efficient.