Proper warehouse organization is critical for optimizing efficiency, not to mention increasing safety and boosting overall worker satisfaction. Have you ever reached into your toolbox for a flathead screwdriver, only to have to dig through the entire toolbox to find it? A disorganized toolbox is inefficient—wasting time looking for the tool you need—and can be frustrating to deal with. In the case of an industrial facility, such as a warehouse or manufacturing floor, poor organization can create unsafe situations for pedestrians who must cross paths with heavy machinery, in designated spaces where exits may be blocked, or if hazardous materials are stored incorrectly. Start with these simple warehouse organization tips to help you improve efficiency and boost productivity.
How to Organize a Warehouse
A warehouse is like a toolbox—only on a much larger scale—which is why warehouse organization is critical to any operation’s success. If you’re not already familiar with the principles of 5S warehouse organization, research and implement this tried-and-true strategy to help eliminate unnecessary clutter, determine the best place to store each item, and enact processes to help employees maintain clean and organized spaces.
One critical element in any successful 5S warehouse is clear signage and labeling. That’s why organized operations rely on 5S and Lean supplies, like warehouse floor tape and signs to mark pathways, organize pallets, and designate equipment storage areas. Clear labels and markings make it easy for employees to locate equipment and create a process for them to replace items in their proper places.
Regardless of whether you choose to strictly abide by the 5S principles, there are plenty of common tools and work areas that most warehouses struggle to maintain. Start with these simple warehouse organization tips to help you improve efficiency and boost productivity:
1. Mark Pallet Areas With Floor Corner Markings
By keeping pallets organized and neatly arranged, you’ll maximize warehouse space, make it easy to find things, and help avoid injuries and product or equipment damage. The simplest way to organize pallet areas is with these floor corner markings. These adhesive-backed, industrial-quality decals are easy to apply, and are just as easy to remove and replace if they’ve worn out or when your pallet organization method needs an update.
2. Use Floor Signs to Designate Pallet Jack Parking Spaces
If employees are constantly hunting around the warehouse to locate the pallet jack, they’re wasting precious time leading and productivity decreases. Use adhesive floor signs to designate parking spaces so employees will always know where to find—and where to return—pallet jacks. Numbering the pallet jacks as well allows employees to easily match them to their designated parking spaces.
3. Use Floor Tape and Signs to Direct Traffic Flow
Many warehouse accidents occur because pedestrians unknowingly cross paths with forklifts and other heavy machinery. Use floor tape and traffic floor signs to help prevent accidents by creating optimal pathways for pedestrian traffic and forklifts or other warehouse machinery. When equipment operators have designated pathways between stations and pedestrians are directed elsewhere, tasks can be accomplished more quickly and safely.
4. Mark Shipping Areas
Creating a consistent flow in shipping areas is easier with floor markings and visual cues that communicate expectations for designated areas. For example, in a busy warehouse, communicate where to deposit shipments intended for each carrier, including UPS and FedEx, using carrier-specific floor signs. Use prominent floor markings to reinforce your staging procedures and help prevent costly shipping mixups.
5. Clearly Mark Packing Material Storage Locations
Speed up packing and shipping by ensuring your packing materials remain where they belong. Bubble wrap rolls are often moved around a warehouse as packing happens, but you can limit lost time by labeling a storage area by putting down a bubble wrap floor sign to clearly designate a space for bubble wrap, streamlining your packing and shipping operations. Similarly, label places to store tape, tubes, mailers, shredded paper, and other packing supplies that may be inadvertently carried off. Keeping these materials in a designated area can reduce time spent searching for the necessary items.
6. Label Spaces for Cleaning Supplies and Trash Cans
Searching for a mop bucket or locating a missing trash can wastes time. Organize cleaning supplies and other everyday items by applying floor signs to clearly mark appointed storage areas. This makes it easier to locate required items as necessary—and also makes it obvious when an item needs to be returned to its proper place, which can help improve overall employee accountability.
7. Designate Equipment Parking Spaces
If employees are often spending time searching for rolling ladders or other equipment, improve organization and reduce time spent searching by designating parking spaces with ladder floor signs or other equipment labels. This keeps your tools, supplies, and equipment corralled, reducing clutter within the warehouse and improving overall navigation. Requiring that all ladders not in use must be returned to their designated spots will encourage a tidy workfloor, but if the parking area is often empty it also allows management to note whether isn’t enough equipment available to staff.
8. Mark “Keep Clear” Areas and Safety Equipment Locations
Provide reminders not to leave boxes near the emergency exit or stack pallets in front of electrical panels or first aid stations using our repeat messaging tape or pre-cut floor marking kits. These pre-printed solutions provide consistent reminders to not block required access zones, keeping your warehouse organized and OSHA-compliant. While you’re at it, make it easier for employees to identify areas where PPE and safety equipment is required using signs and tape to clearly label storage locations and employees of company policies and safety procedures.
9. Label Materials and Stock in the Warehouse
Identify raw materials, items in-progress, and finished products ready to ship using barcodes and SKUs to help keep your space and processes organized. Choose magnetic labels for metal warehouse racks or adhesive floor labels to adhere near pallets, shelves, or shipping racks. When an employee is ready to pick, pack, and ship, proper labeling helps ensure the correct items are selected. Add label protectors to help your identification tags withstand forklift and foot traffic.
If you’re stumped over how to organize a warehouse, these 9 easy ideas are a great place to start. By designating appropriate spaces for commonly used items and using visual labels to denote those spaces, you’ll take the guesswork out of finding and storing items to increase productivity and boost safety. Can’t find the floor tape or safety sign messaging you need? Contact a floor marking specialist to customize a solution today. Find more industrial organization tips in our Resource Center.