insider_imageGiven that one of this week’s features is order picking it seems like a good time to use this space to discuss something I believe to be one of the most important aspects of any efficient warehouse operation – labelling.

Accurate labelling is essential for easy and efficient order picking but often it is a part of the process which people seem to ignore. On my first day of work as a warehouse manager I walked into an operation that had been neglected for many years and the end result was a warehouse full of goods but nobody knew exactly where anything was. I had been looking forward to starting a job where I had the responsibility of a whole warehouse under my control and yet I spent the first few weeks sifting through pallets of stock labelling and noting exactly what was there – not exactly the responsibility I had in mind.

Of course it isn’t just stock already in the warehouse that needed to be labelled but all goods in would be labelled within minutes of their arrival, I imagine my boss was sick of constant requests for sticky labels. I was already more than aware of the importance of labels after several months working in a parcel sorting warehouse where a small label is pivotal to a parcel’s successful journey from one end of the country to the other. It may seem trivial but you can’t underestimate the importance of accurate labelling to a warehousing operation.

When goods are labelled accurately order picking becomes a relatively simple case of matching details on a despatch note to the details on the label, and although the system I devised was for a relatively small-size warehouse operation I know from working as an operative in a large-scale operation that labelling is equally important in larger operations.

The labelling system I put together for my warehouse was easy to follow with the intention that my colleagues would also label and note the goods as they came in and out of the warehouse on the rare occasions when I took some time off. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and instead I would return to a desk full of delivery notes and a warehouse full of unlabelled goods. My first task on my return would then be to work out exactly what goods had come in and out in my absence, taking up a lot of time – and a lot of sticky labels.

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