woman taping boxes for shipping

 

For all the importance of packing and shipping goods in a warehouse, few warehouses put as much work into their packing stations as they should.

Packing stations get a lot of traffic, both from workers and from products being shipped out, and handling these items as quickly – and correctly – as possible can go a long way towards making sure your customers are happy and your orders are packed correctly.

Ensuring your shipping/receiving staff has the equipment they need to get their items packed and out the door is just as important as making sure your picking staff has safety gear and barcode scanners, and can help your overall warehouse work that much more smoothly.

If you’re thinking your packing station could use a little help, here’s five tips to get your shipping staff ready to roll:

 

Pick (pun intended) a good location: Before you start setting up any packing workstations, figure out what the most advantageous area for your shipping station will be. You’ll want an area that’s easy to access without getting in the way of the natural flow of warehouse traffic, but you’ll also need it to serve as a logical endpoint to the flow of traffic so your staff can get items there quickly and easily. Think of your traffic as a river, and the shipping station should be where the river meets the ocean before heading out to wherever it’s going.

 

Write a job description and workflow for the packing station: You can throw brown packing paper and commercial-grade packing tape at your staff all you want, but if they don’t have a clear idea of what they’ll be doing and how they should do it, you won’t get anywhere. Before investing in a lot of hardware, take the time to figure out what needs to be done at the packing station. Ask yourself questions like:

 

  • Do the packers need to consolidate orders, or will that be done by the picking team?
  • What do you do if an item is damaged by the time it gets to the packing station?
  • When and how do you generate an address label?
  • What kind of manifesting is required from your shipping partners?

 

Once these are better understood, you’ll be able to address the equipment needs of your team better.

 

Make a detailed list of the needed equipment: Before you start setting up your workbenches with the tools you need, take stock and see what exactly you’ll need to get things packed up and shipped. Focus on the sort of products you usually sell – do you deal in heavier goods that need a lot of padding and require something stronger than the usual cardboard box? Are you selling collectibles or items that need delicate padding to get to the customer safely? The sort of goods you ship will have a big impact on the supplies you give your team.

 

Provide storage around the work area: Most workbenches give you plenty of options for storing the supplies you need, but you can’t rely on the bench itself to do all the work for you. Make sure you provide wire shelves and metal shelves around the packing station to hold excess supplies and extra materials as needed without cluttering up the actual work surface your team needs.

 

Remember you may need to change it in the future: Getting locked down to one location will prove to be a bigger hassle in the long run. If your operations expand, or your product line begins to increase, you may need to enlarge or relocate your packing station, and that means you’ll need to keep everything modular and portable to get there. Don’t get too tied down to one layout or one location, and remember to be flexible.

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