28 Apr Your Guide to Warehouse Workflow
When a warehouse is operating properly, it functions similar to an ant hill. An incredible amount of moving parts all existing simultaneously, working towards individual goals and contributing in their own smaller sections to combine into a seamless and efficient workspace.
Starting at the place where materials will enter your warehouse, we will move section by section to show the ideal flow of goods coming in and eventually exiting, ready to send out to their next destination.
This shows the optimal workflow that generally works for every warehouse.
As we go along, keep in mind the general layout of a facility must cover all these needs:
- Making the most of the available space
- Reducing the handling of goods to a minimum
- Providing easy access to the stored product
- Having the highest rotation ratio possible
- Offering maximum flexibility in the positioning of products
- Controlling the amounts stored
Ready to jump in?
Loading and Unloading
This area is the entrance and exit for nearly all materials that will come into your warehouse. While this can be located either inside or outside of the warehouse, a designated area for properly controlling inflow and outflow of goods is crucial.
While this area works in conjunction with the loading and unloading area, it should be entirely separate in its location and operation.
This area is where trained members of your staff review the incoming materials to make sure everything is according to plan – you’re receiving what you should be receiving and they are in good condition. Typical tasks performed in receiving involve inspecting goods received, counting, quality control, and sorting. After that, splitting and distributing materials to their proper place in the warehouse is the next step. The smooth operation of this step is very important!
Following the natural flow of your warehouse, storage is the next stop. This is the area that will take up the most real estate in your warehouse so it’s a huge priority to get your storage solution done correctly.
Every business has different storage needs and there are a variety ways to meet those needs. Some things to be conscious of are what are the products that need to be stored, the turnover of products, the weight requirements and special needs of what you are storing. For more information on the details and ideas on how to arrange your storage area, look for our next blog in which we take a deep dive into your warehouse racking layout.
Here is a chart depicting the pros and cons of your six main pallet rack types.
Not every warehouse will need a picking system and area, but if you are a location that fills orders using items from different locations inside of the warehouse it will be necessary.
Picking can be a manual operation performed exclusively by employees or a completely automated process, depending on a variety of different factors, though most warehouses end up using a combination of manual employees and automation to create the most efficient workflow.
Shipping, Packaging, and Distribution
This is the staging area for items pulled from storage that are used to restock store shelves, to be used by your business, or where your products are packed up and prepared to be sent out to customers.
Coming full circle on our trip, this area is used as secondary quality control before your products are taken to the loading area to hit the road once more.
This may seem like a bonus area, but it’s really essential to the success of your warehouse. Support areas are offices, bathrooms, lockers, equipment storage, employee lounges and break rooms.
All of these should be grouped together to keep all non work activities in one central area, preventing extra walking to different locations on downtime, as well as one centralized location to maximize the space outside of it to perform the manual aspects of work.
In the end, there’s no substitute for talking to a racking/warehouse expert. Your set of challenges are unique and we’re here to help you through every step of the way. You can start a no obligation, no cost conversation about how we can help you by sending us a message here.