You can invest plenty of money in your warehouse’s design model, but if you skip the fundamentals of warehousing organization, your fancy operation could be full of snags. Take the issue of labeling, for instance. When you get into the habit of installing warehouse labels in a strategic manner you will experience a host of benefits, such as improved supply chain efficiency, product visibility in the warehouse, boosted warehouse productivity, and, perhaps most importantly, decreased manual entry errors.
But, upsides aside, it’s difficult to reap the aforementioned rewards if you do not take the time to first learn the best practices that come with labeling. Today, we are taking a deep dive into warehouse rack labeling, a practice that, while simple to master, has a finite list of steps to follow. Let’s take a look:
No matter what your organizational scheme may be in regards to your warehouse, the very first step in proper labeling is a simple one – identifying your racks. It may seem like a common-sense move, but not every operation follows the same definition.
Racks, otherwise known as units or sections, are the shelving units that are used to store your inventory or equipment. Depending on the nature of the warehouse, a rack might be compromised of one, very lengthy unit that stretches from one side of the aisle all the way to other. That being said, some operations choose to organize their shelving units into smaller sections. This practice is done when many SKUs are involved or if there are major variations in size and quality of the products. If the latter sounds like an organizational model that your operation uses, be sure to assign unique identification attributes to each section of each rack, not the entire racking unit itself.
This practice is especially relevant to those working with a high-density racking solution that contains multiple levels. But, even if you are a small operation that is using bare-bones racking solutions, like two-shelf pallets, you will still want to label your racks from the ground up, by giving the lowest row the name of ‘01’. The second row will be labeled as ‘02’ – and so on, and so on. It’s smart to use a double-digit model, even if you don’t have enough levels to constitute one at the moment. This is because the system allows you to name more levels without making numerical changes if you ever do, in fact, decide to scale up.
Now that you’re familiar with rack shelf labeling standards, it’s time for you to assess your picking technique in order to determine whether a serpentine or standard labeling model will best fit your operation. Here’s the difference between the two:
Serpentine – Warehouses using strategic picking techniques due to high volumes of SKUs or fast-moving inventory usually benefit most from the serpentine model in which pickers move from location-to-location, weaving up and down the aisles. Using this labeling model, pickers can swiftly travel across the warehouse floor without doubling back to previous locations. In this case, aisles are normally labeled alphabetically – Units AA, AB for Aisle 1 and Units, BA, BB for Aisle 2.
Standard – The standard labeling model doesn’t necessarily take picking techniques into account, which means pickers must go from location-to-location, often doubling back to previous locations to pick the correct product orders. In this case, aisles are normally labeled alphabetically and in numerical order, beginning from the first racking system.
When selecting labels for your warehouse, you must first consider the environment of your operation. What are the varying degrees of the temperature inside the facility? Are your racks ever exposed to chemical products or high levels of moisture? Does your racking system move in such a way that its labels might endure snags or extra pressure? These are all questions that you must answer in order to ensure maximum longevity.
At Camcode, we provide rack labels for all applications, environments, and price points. For a more durable alternative to paper-based labels, Polyester Warehouse Rack Labels are a great choice. These specialized labels serve as highly-durable, permanent labeling solutions that adhere to a variety of surfaces – including uneven or bumpy surfaces.
If you are in need of a labeling system that does many jobs at once, consider Multi-Level Warehouse Rack Labels, color-coded labels set at ideal scanning levels to minimize errors.
Of course, some warehouse applications aren’t well-suited for permanent labeling solutions. If yours makes use of temporary picking protocols with transitional racks, reusable Magnetic Warehouse Rack Labels are a good choice.
No matter the size or scope of your operation, devising a warehouse rack labeling plan is a key warehousing best practice to follow. In order to formulate one that works for you, always take a holistic assessment of your warehouse’s infrastructure, organizational plan, and picking procedures prior to implementing a solution.