In the fast-paced world of logistics, the term ‘fulfillment’ encapsulates the art and science of meeting customer demands effectively and efficiently. It’s a complex ballet of processes that takes place within the bustling walls of a warehouse. For businesses aiming to grow and thrive, mastering this art form is not just beneficial; it’s essential.
But why is efficient fulfillment so critical for business expansion? Simply put, the quicker and more accurately a business can move products from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep, the happier the customer is. This satisfaction leads to repeat business, word-of-mouth recommendations, and a solid foundation for growth. Yet, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often grapple with fulfillment challenges such as limited space, skyrocketing overhead costs, and inefficient inventory management.
The Basics of Warehouse Efficiency
When we speak of warehouse efficiency, we’re referring to the strategic orchestration of a warehouse’s operations to maximize productivity and minimize waste. It’s a crucial cog in the machinery of customer satisfaction and impacts the financial health of any business. Efficient warehousing revolves around three pillars:
- Layout Design: Optimizing the physical space for easy access and movement of goods.
- Inventory Tracking: Ensuring real-time knowledge of what’s in stock and where it is.
- Workflow Management: Streamlining processes to reduce time and labor costs.
By focusing on these key factors, businesses can achieve a level of warehouse efficiency that not only supports their current operations but scales with their growth aspirations.
The Rise of Shared Small Warehouse Spaces for Modern Business Needs
Enter the innovative concept of shared small warehouse spaces — a game-changer for SMBs. These communal hubs offer:
- Reduced Overheads: Sharing space means sharing costs, which lowers the financial burden on individual businesses.
- Flexibility and Scalability: As demand fluctuates, so can the amount of space and resources used, allowing businesses to remain agile.
- Collaboration Opportunities: Businesses can benefit from shared knowledge and possibly even share shipments to reduce costs.
By sharing warehouse space, SMBs find that they can enjoy the facilities and systems usually reserved for larger corporations. From e-commerce startups to growing retailers, many have found success in this modern warehousing model.
Overcoming Fulfillment Challenges with Warehouse Efficiency
Shared small warehouse spaces are more than just a place to store products; they are a dynamic solution to fulfillment challenges with warehouse efficiency at their core. SMBs can leverage these spaces to improve inventory management through shared technology and systems. Moreover, they can streamline operations by adopting efficient workflows modeled by the shared space provider. This approach not only optimizes the fulfillment process but also fosters a collaborative environment where businesses can pool resources and knowledge.
The Power of Shared Warehouse Efficiency and Its Key Takeaways
The demand for shared small warehouse spaces is on the rise among SMBs, driven by the need for cost-effective, flexible, and collaborative warehousing solutions. To summarize, these shared environments offer:
- Cost-Effectiveness: They significantly reduce the financial barriers to efficient warehousing.
- Flexibility: They provide the ability to scale up or down quickly in response to business needs.
- Collaboration: They create opportunities for businesses to work together and innovate.
For SMBs aiming to overcome challenges with warehouse efficiency, shared spaces are not just a temporary fix but a strategic move toward sustainable growth.
Embracing Shared Warehouse Efficiency for Business Growth
Addressing fulfillment challenges through warehouse efficiency is not just a logistical concern but a strategic imperative for SMBs looking to expand and excel in today’s market. The emergence of shared small warehouse spaces has revolutionized the way smaller players can compete, offering a pathway to optimized inventory management, streamlined workflows, and the kind of scalability previously reserved for their larger counterparts. These communal warehousing solutions are a testament to the innovative approaches that are now accessible, fostering a collaborative and cost-effective environment for businesses.
By adopting shared warehouse spaces, SMBs can focus on their core business goals, secure in the knowledge that their fulfillment processes are as efficient as they are effective. Whether you are just starting or looking to refine your existing operations, the time to consider shared warehouse efficiency is now. It is a powerful step towards not just meeting customer expectations but exceeding them, thereby driving business growth and ensuring long-term success.
For those interested in experiencing the efficiency of shared warehousing, WareSpace offers tours of its facilities across the United States to showcase how these solutions can work for your business.
Does your space include everything on our warehouse equipment list? For employees in your warehouse to operate safely and efficiently, they need to have the right tools at their disposal. This warehouse equipment list specifically outlines everything your facility needs to reduce wasted time and get orders out as quickly as possible.
Warehouse Tools and Equipment List
Any warehouse tools and equipment list should include solutions for storing, conveying, lifting, organizing, packaging, and shipping products. Plus, you’ll want to include any safety and maintenance tools.
1. Storage Equipment
Storage equipment makes efficient use of warehouse space. Pallet racks, shelves, totes, bulk boxes, and bins facilitate the neat organization of products. In a warehouse that effectively uses these storage systems, workers can easily speed up their picking rates.
Pallet racks have various designs based on how workers stock and remove products from them. For first-in, first-out (FIFO) storage, goods arriving at the warehouse the earliest are the first to leave. Racks useful for FIFO storage include:
- Selective pallet racks
- Push-back racks
- Pallet flow racks
- Drive-through racks
In facilities that use last-in, first-out (LIFO) storage, goods that arrive most recently leave sooner than products that came earlier. Warehouses that need more dense storage of non-perishable goods use LIFO. Rack designs for LIFO include:
- Double deep racks
- Drive-in racks
To enhance the effectiveness of storage equipment, use barcode labels that correspond to the products on the shelves or in the bins. Workers scan these barcodes to verify that they pulled the correct product, and to update the warehouse management system (WMS) information on inventory counts.
2. Conveying Devices
Conveying devices move products from one part of the warehouse to another without needing a person to carry them. Differences among these types of equipment depend on the direction that the equipment moves in. Options include:
- Belt conveyors
- Spiral conveyors
- Vertical conveyors
- Gravity-fed conveyors
Powered conveyors should have emergency stop cables along their lengths to stop the belt at any time. Employee work areas also need emergency stop buttons for automatic conveyors, per OSHA requirements.
3. Lifting Equipment
Lifting equipment reduces worker strain due to picking up heavy products or containers. Lifting devices safely move heavy products or pallets filled with goods. Examples include:
- Hand trucks or dollies
- Pallet jacks
- Pallet stackers
- Forklifts or lift trucks
Workers should have clear instructions on safely using lifting equipment. For forklifts, users must have training and certification in their use, according to OSHA.
4. Organizational Tools
Organizational tools include everything needed to track the inventory in a warehouse and order products as needed. Examples include:
- Barcode scanners for picking
- Warehouse management systems (WMS)
- Labels on storage containers
These organizational tools ensure inventory counts stay updated and accurate.
5. Packaging and Shipping Equipment
Your warehouse should have a dedicated area for packaging and shipping products. Equipment in this area allows workers to prepare all orders for shipment without leaving the area, if possible. Examples of essential packaging and shipping equipment include:
- Varied packaging types
- Stretch wrappers
- Industrials scales
- Packing tables
- Lift tables
- Strapping tools
With a well-stocked packaging and shipping area, workers don’t need to leave the space to get the equipment they need.
6. Safety Gear
Safety gear is vital for protecting workers and preventing accidents. The specific types of safety equipment in a small warehouse depend on the layout of the facility, other equipment installed, and the types of products stored. Some common types of safety equipment include:
- First aid kits
- Guard rails
- Fall protection equipment
- Wheel chocks for transport trucks at the dock
- Dock levelers
- Dock bumpers
- Hard hats
- Corner, column, and rack protectors
Always refer to OSHA requirements when creating a list of safety gear your warehouse needs.
7. Maintenance Tools
Maintenance tools reduce the operational problems of other warehouse equipment. Cleaning equipment also maintains the warehouse itself. Examples of maintenance tools include:
- Replacement batteries for materials handling equipment
- Maintenance plan for all equipment
- Basic repair tools
- Basic cleaning supplies, such as mops, brooms, dusters
The Importance of Investing in Warehouse Equipment
The right warehouse equipment improves productivity and the use of space within the warehouse, and improves worker safety.
Bins, racks, and other storage equipment improves the organization of the products to make it easier for workers to fulfill orders. Industrial racking maximizes the number of goods stored within the warehouse space by increasing vertical storage space. Conveyor equipment automates movement from one side of the warehouse to another, cutting down on the time needed to deliver products to the packaging and shipping area. Lift trucks or pallet jacks safely move the pallets vertically to reduce the time needed for storage.
Cutting even a few seconds from each warehouse task adds up to a significant amount of time saved for each order. For small businesses that need to grow, faster order processing could create the necessary edge over the competition.
Your warehouse must have safety equipment to meet requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Having the proper gear can prevent injuries or even death. In 2021, the warehousing sector had 46 total deaths and 5.5 injuries per 100 workers.
Hard hats, steel-toed boots, guardrails, barriers, and first aid kits help workers to do their jobs with less danger. Installing safety equipment reduces warehouse hazards and makes the facility safer. A safer warehouse that has fewer accidents reduces the time lost due to worker injuries.
In 2022, the warehousing industry faced serious shortages of workers. A survey showed that 44% of warehouse managers could not find enough qualified workers to fill their open positions. Turnover was almost equally high, with an industry rate of 43%. A lack of workers, not having enough trained employees, needing to train workers, and high turnover rates cut productivity in warehouses by up to 50%. By improving conditions and updating equipment, warehouses can keep trained employees longer and avoid these productivity drops.
Warehouse work puts heavy demands on the human body, and the best warehouse equipment lessens the strain that workers experience. Investing in warehouse equipment that improves productivity helps workers do more in less time, and helps companies avoid the hidden costs of employee turnover.
Are You Missing Any Tools From Our Warehouse Equipment List?
Although not company specific, the equipment list above outlines what your warehouse should have to ensure productive and safe operations. If you’re looking at WareSpace to fill your warehouse needs, you’ll find professional-grade storage racking, pallet jacks, conference rooms, wi-fi, electricity, and many more amenities all included in our rates. With our variety of warehouse sizes, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect space for your small business.
Are you looking for ways to optimize your small warehouse rental space? Look no further than warehouse pallet racks. At WareSpace, we understand the importance of maximizing your warehouse rental space, which is why all of our warehouse rental options come with industrial-grade pallet racking as an amenity.
Why Use Pallet Racks in Your Small Warehouse Rental Space?
Pallet racking is a low-cost solution to quickly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your small warehouse rental space. Here’s how pallet racks can improve your small warehouse rental space:
Increase Warehouse Space
Don’t limit yourself to two-dimensional thinking when it comes to your warehouse rental space. Utilize the vertical overhead space by using pallet racks to store entire pallets of goods on multiple levels. This allows for higher inventory volume stored within your current space, which is a great way to scale without having to move into a larger warehouse space before your business is ready.
Improve Warehouse Storage Organization
If you have upgraded your business from your home to a small warehouse space, your organization methods will also need improvements.
Pallet racks are also great for keeping your inventory organized. Instead of putting products in piles on the floor, use pallet racks to efficiently store and track each pallet. This can help you create a map for faster order-picking and maximize efficiency when coupled with a warehouse management system (WMS).
How Can You Use Pallet Racks in Your Small Warehouse Rental Space
To make the most out of your small warehouse rental space, consider the following tips for using pallet racks:
Plan Your Small Warehouse Layout
When planning your warehouse layout, be mindful of the space you have and the amount of inventory you want to store. Make sure to keep aisle spacing and flow areas in mind to ensure that you or your shipping team can move safely and efficiently throughout the space.
Balance Aisle Spacing
Consider the width of your aisles when spacing out your pallet racks. Wider aisles allow for safe equipment use, while narrower aisles provide more space. Strike a balance to find the best aisle spacing for your business.
Segment Your Space into High and Low Flow Areas
Segmenting your space based on product volume is another organization tactic. Group high-demand products together in high-flow areas, and low-demand products in low-flow areas. High-flow areas should contain high-volume goods that stay in your warehouse for the shortest amount of time, while low-flow areas are great for storing specialty goods or seasonal products.
High-flow areas should contain high-volume goods that stay in your warehouse for the shortest amount of time. Place these products into the middle rack of a three-tier system. The ideal storage location for high-flow products are locations that do not require workers to reach overhead or bend at the waist.
You can also turn low racks into high-flow zones by inserting empty pallets on the base of the rack and the products on these pallets. The empty pallets raise the inventory to waist height, placing it into the ideal picking space. Alternatively, use a palletizer under the load. These tools sink to the ground when fully loaded. As you pull products from the pallets, the palletizer raises the load to keep the items at waist level.
These ergonomic storage arrangements minimize strain because workers can pull products faster by using fewer motions.
Designated low-flow areas are great places to store specialty goods or seasonal products that don’t sell quickly throughout the year. You can keep them in low-flow areas until needed. Once you enter a period where the items are in high demand, move them over to your high-flow area.
The locations for high and low flow zones also matter. Place high-flow areas closer to the shipping portion of your warehouse. This minimizes the distance required for workers to fulfill the majority of orders. Place low-flow areas farther from the shipping preparation area to increase your small warehouse space’s storage capacity.
Upgrade Your Small Business’s Efficiency with Storage Bins and Pallet Racks
Make the most out of every inch of your small warehouse rental space by effectively using pallet racking. At WareSpace, we offer a variety of smaller warehouse rental spaces near you, with industrial-grade pallet racking as one of our many amenities. For more information, give us a call at 301-781-6964, or book a tour today.
Moving out of your home space and searching for the perfect small warehouse space can make a huge difference in your business growth. Here are ten compelling reasons why you need a small warehouse rental right now:
More Storage Space:
As your online business grows, you’ll need more space to store your inventory. A small warehouse space will give you the extra room you need without breaking the bank.
Renting a small warehouse space is much more affordable than renting a full-sized warehouse. You’ll save money on rent, utilities, and other expenses.
With a small warehouse rental, you can streamline your operations and improve efficiency. You’ll have access to a variety of tools and resources that can help you manage your inventory and fulfill orders more quickly.
When your products are stored in a central location, you can fulfill orders faster and get your products to your customers more quickly.
With a dedicated space to work, you’ll be able to focus on growing your business and improving your products. You’ll be more productive and able to accomplish more in less time.
Improved Customer Service:
Faster shipping and better inventory management mean better customer service. Your customers will appreciate fast and reliable service, which can lead to more sales and repeat business.
A small warehouse rental gives you greater flexibility to scale your business up or down as needed. You can increase your storage space or downsize without worrying about long-term leases or other commitments.
In the competitive world of e-commerce, having a shared warehouse space can give you an edge over your competitors. You’ll be able to offer faster shipping and better customer service, which can help you stand out in a crowded market.
With a shared warehouse, you’ll share the risks and responsibilities with other businesses. This can help reduce your overall risk and give you peace of mind.
Room for Growth:
Finally, a small shared warehouse space gives you room to grow. As your business expands, you can expand your storage space and take on more inventory without worrying about outgrowing your space.
WareSpace can empower your business to grow! Learn more about our amenities and book a tour to find out about our different warehouse sizes.
The last thing you want is your order fulfillment to bottleneck at the packing area. For maximum efficiency, it’s essential to have a fully stocked, well-laid-out warehouse packing station to speed up your order fulfillment.
The Purpose of Your Warehouse Packing Station
Packing stations should not be an afterthought when planning your warehouse space use. Your station should hold a dedicated place in your small warehouse space, and be specifically used for preparing orders for shipping. Warehouse packing stations:
- Give you a place to verify that you have all the correct products in each customer order. Checking orders before packaging the products reduces the chances of time-consuming returns. It will also ensure customer satisfaction.
- Keep all the materials needed for preparing orders for shipping in one location. By maintaining this stock, you can quickly package orders properly without wasting time finding boxes, tape, or other materials.
- House products in a designated area between the packing and shipping stages. Knowing where every product is at each step of the fulfillment process reduces the chances of lost or delayed orders.
Considerations When Setting Up Your Packing Station
Your small business may not have thousands of orders to process a day, but you still need to think about optimizing your warehouse packing station layout to reduce processing time. Becoming more efficient now will only make it easier to scale up your business operations in the future. To create the perfect packing zone in your small warehouse space, consider the following things:
Pack Station Purpose
Identify the most important purpose your packing station must fulfill and keep it front of mind when choosing tools and materials to optimize that portion of your warehouse. It helps to separate the overall task of packing into smaller jobs, and most packing stations provide order collection, quality control, packaging, and labeling. To allow your workers to do these tasks within the packing station, you must make available all the equipment they will need.
What is the direction of your warehouse workflow? Do you have storage to the left of your packing area and shipping to the right? In that case, arrange the packing station from left to right. The direction of product movement through the packing station should always go from storage toward shipping.
When preparing an order for shipping, always have the products move in a clear direction through every portion of the packing station. Use signs with arrows that outline the workflow steps and directions at each stage. When every order goes through the same workflow from picking to packing to shipping, you will reduce the chances of lost or damaged orders.
The best layout for a small warehouse space is to put the most frequently moved goods closer to the packing area. This same principle applies to the materials used by those preparing orders for shipping. Place the most used tapes, scanners, filler, and boxes closest to the packing station so workers can speed orders through to shipping.
When making your small warehouse space more ergonomically friendly, don’t neglect the packing station. Proper arrangement of goods and materials will reduce the chances of work-related muscle strain, and better ergonomics also improves worker morale and productivity.
To create an ergonomic packing station, minimize any bending or reaching workers must do when completing their jobs. Also, have available lifting equipment readily available to help them move heavy boxes without straining themselves.
Packing Station Tools and Materials
To effectively package your products, you will need to stock both machinery and materials in the packing station. Machinery helps to track the orders through the order fulfillment process. Packing materials ensure that customers have their orders protected from damage during shipping.
The type of machinery your warehouse pack station needs may include printers for creating stick-on address labels, or scanners to update the warehouse management system (WMS) on the progress of the order.
The specific packing materials you need depend on the types of products you sell. If your small business deals in delicate items, you will need ample filling material and sturdy boxes to protect the goods during shipping. Shipping small items may only require padded mailing envelopes instead of boxes. Make sure your packing station layout accounts for storing these materials.
Key Components of an Effective Warehouse Pack Station
An effective warehouse pack station separates the packing process into individual steps. These steps each have their own area within the packing station to allow multiple people to contribute to packing orders during the busiest times. Common areas include:
- A Staging and quality control site
- A Packing and labeling bench
- A Waste and recycling area
- A Bin or conveyor to shipping
When creating your packing station layout, make sure there is ample space for each step to be completed.
Staging and Quality Control
In staging, products arrive from the warehouse storage area and are compared against the customers’ orders. This part of the packing station helps minimize order problems due to damaged goods from the warehouse, or incorrect product fulfillment
Packing Bench and Labeling Area
Packing and labeling can occur on the same bench. Workers at this bench may need more time to complete their tasks than those in other parts of the packing area. Each product may require wrapping and/or boxing. Flat or small goods may only need placement into envelopes for shipping. Workers should also check that the label applied to the order matches the customer’s shipping information.
Waste and Recycling Area
Have a designated spot where you discard waste or recycling created from packing. Do not allow leftover boxes or other waste to accumulate in the packing area. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has requirements for housekeeping throughout your warehouse, including packing areas.
Under 1910.176(c), you must keep your entire small warehouse space free of anything that could create a fire, pest, explosion, or tripping hazard. Paper, boxes, and waste from packing could all cause tripping. Keep separate waste and recycling bins next to the packing station for easier disposal of leftover items.
Bin or Conveyor to Shipping
Getting the finished products from packing to shipping in your warehouse may not look the same as the system used in another facility. Conveyor belts are ideal for sending large volumes of completed orders to shipping. Alternatively, you can place all packed orders into a bin or cart and manually move them to the shipping area on a recurring basis. Having a designated location for all completed packages will reduce the chances of orders getting lost or misplaced.
Make Your Small Warehouse Space Do More with an Effective Packing Station
Make your small warehouse space as efficient as possible by updating your packing station. With faster picking, packing, and shipping your business can fulfill more orders.
In the market for a new warehouse? Check out the numerous amenities we offer at WareSpace. We provide your business with electricity, secure wi-fi, materials handling equipment, industrial racking, package receiving, and more to help your business run smoothly. Call us at 301-781-6964, or book a tour online today.
Do you think that your business is too small to benefit from access to a warehouse loading dock? If you need the added storage of a small warehouse space, you also need a docking area. An efficient loading dock is one of the essential tools to improve operations and set yourself up for future growth.
Why Loading Docks?
Access to a warehouse loading dock makes it faster and easier to get your goods to customers and restock your supplies. You don’t need to send out truckloads of goods to benefit from docking areas — carriers can handle full truckloads or single pallets. Loading docks give you the convenience of easy shipping and receiving without having to leave your space.
4 Benefits of Renting a Small Warehouse Space with a Loading Dock
Operational improvement is at the top of the list, but there are a few other benefits to renting a small warehouse space with a loading dock.
1. Increased Safety
A loading dock equipped with appropriate handling tools offers a safer alternative to receiving large shipments than a back door. Trying to unload trucks without docking bays means moving goods outside in all types of weather. Rainy or icy conditions can be dangerous for anyone loading or unloading. Loading docks provide a protected space for safely unloading trucks without exposing workers or products to inclement weather.
It’s also hard to control a truck’s movement without a loading dock. Most docks typically have wheel chocks or other methods to prevent truck creep. This creep is the unintended movement of the vehicle during loading or unloading, which can cause serious injury. Tools around loading docks that prevent this creep make the area safer for those using it.
While loading docks provide a safer alternative than parking lots to unload trucks, everyone must still exercise caution when using these spaces. To ensure maximum safety around the loading dock, always follow safety guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These safety rules include securing dock plates, keeping clear of edges around the dock, and never jumping from the dock.
Over time, the design of loading docks has evolved to optimize efficiency for loading and unloading trucks. Most are physically designed and constructed to make shipping and receiving easy. For instance, outside areas around the loading docks should include space for trucks to turn around, back into the docks, and pull out of the area, even if there are other vehicles present.
Inside, the layout should be structured so you can quickly and easily access the loading dock area. The best layout for your space is one that’s designed to keep the time needed to stock items, pick products, and ship at a minimum.
Most small businesses intend to grow over time. Loading docks give your business the flexibility it needs to increase your inventory. Paired with a shared warehouse that allows you to rent several different size spaces, your business will be set up for growth. You can receive more products, store more goods, and increase sales.
4. Labor and Timesaving
The enhanced efficiency and safety of loading docks also make them time-saving tools. Materials handling tools such as pallet jacks and dollies allow workers to effortlessly move goods. It also saves time because there’s less chance that workers could sustain injuries that might cause them to miss work
Spending less time getting products to the delivery trucks gives workers more time for other tasks. With their extra time, workers can fulfill more orders, prepare additional shipments, or store extra products.
Loading Docks Are Available at Our Facilities
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the safety, time-saving, and flexibility of warehouse loading docks. But, loading docks are only one of the many amenities that WareSpace offers its tenants. Our small warehouse spaces come equipped with the tools you need to begin to make the most of the storage and shipping space. For more information, give us a call or contact us online to book a tour.