Monday, 30 November 2015

Warehouse Location and Rack Labelling - Tips and Best Practise

When companies undertake a WMS project, the initial focus is always on the software, its functionality and whether it's a good fit and delivers the benefits for the business, which is of course the right place to start. Second comes the selection of the equipment including label printers and hand-held scanning terminals. Often forgotten or definitely an afterthought is the labelling of the locations in the warehouse: Racks, Overheads, Floor, etc. In fact this should be given as much consideration as the selection of the equipment as the type of barcode scanner in the terminal will need to be capable of scanning the barcodes on the locations. Lets take a look at some of the important considerations:
 
Location Label Types

For Warehouse Racking you will need to consider "Shelf Edge" labels that contain a barcode and human readable that identify the location it is assigned to in the WMS system. Depending on the type of equipment you are using in the warehouse will determine whether you will need to label the high bay levels.
Shelf Edge Labelling on racking

For example, if you are using man-up trucks you will need ID labels on every level as they will need to be scanned by the worker at eye level. If you are using reach trucks then you will need a scan chart or index at the lower levels as the worker will not be at the same level as the goods or pallet. Note the use of arrows to indicate the level the ID refers to. The use of colour codes also helps identify the higher level bays (these will have a corresponding colour label attached).


Index and Shelf Edge Labelling on racking
Of course not all stock will be stored in nice neat racking, there could well be floor stacked areas which can be would need either overhead suspended location ID's or Floor Mounted plates.

Overhead Suspended
Rugged Barcode Floor Plates
The overhead plates can be suspended from wires or attached to overhead beams or trunking. These are very large barcodes so they can be seen and scanned from ground level and often need high performance barcode scanners such as the Datalogic PowerScan or Falcon x3+ with long range scanner. Floor Plates are sometimes popular, but can be expensive due the the need for very rugged construction and installation to cope with fork truck traffic.



Barcode Type, Size and Readability

Before you crack on and order all the locations ID's and get them fitted, take some time to test and verify that they can be read by the equipment you will be using in the warehouse. For example, don't expect to be able to read small barcodes from a distance just because you will use long range scanning devices. The scanning device and the barcode type and size need to be matched up for perfect scanning. Frustration soon sets in when operators have difficulties reading the barcodes.
Use the right scanner for the task.

As a general rule, the larger and the bigger the barcode the easier it is to scan. Also consider the distances you will need to scan from, e.g. from sitting in the fork truck, on foot, etc. The material used can also have a bearing on readability. Reflective material will provide better "scanability" and distance for example and is often used for Overhead Suspended barcodes.

Take all these points into account and you won't go far wrong, or simply ask us to advise.

We have a wealth of experience in implementing our specialist Dexterity WMS Systems to help clients realise the benefits of a smart Warehouse Management System. Get in touch for a no obligation and no pressure discussion on how Dexterity WMS could help your business.

Written by Jim Southern, specialist in warehouse management at Barcode-IT.  To ask questions about this article or find out how barcodes with a Dexterity Smart Warehouse can transform your business, call 01200 441977 or email Jim @ Barcode-IT today.  Or do some research at www.warehouse-it.co.uk



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