A warehouse is a physical space where a company stores product, raw materials, and other items necessary for doing business. However, that space does not only accommodate physical inventory. It also has to accommodate warehouse personnel and equipment. When there is room for everything to co-exist comfortably, warehouse efficiency increases. If there is not enough elbow room, problems ensue.
The Importance of Elbow Room in the Warehouse
Why is having enough room in the warehouse so important? Here are five reasons:
- It prevents damage to inventory.
When there is not enough room for a warehouse worker to access an inventory slot, surrounding product has the potential to get bumped repeatedly, or worse, knocked to the floor. A gentle bump may not cause an issue; however, repeated bumps, a hard bump, or a fall to the floor can damage product to the point where it cannot be used or sold.
In addition to potential inventory damage, when aisles are filled with pallets, equipment, or disorganized stock, it becomes difficult for workers to safely navigate the space and also runs the risk of injury to personnel.
- It makes taking inventory easier.
When a worker needs to count product, they will need to see and access the inventory easily. If the warehouse shelves are too close, or if there is no room to move product in and out, taking a count of what is on the shelf is made that much more difficult. It can extend the time necessary for inventory, run the risk of dropped or damaged stock, and decrease efficiency even further.
- It reduces product placement errors.
Product should arrive at the dock, be logged, and then be directly placed in its correct location within the warehouse. If elbow room is limited, however, it is quite easy for product to be put in the wrong place, whether due to the warehouse worker mistaking the slot due to poor access or deliberately placing items in the most conveniently available slot instead of where it belongs. Scrambled inventory translates to decreased warehouse efficiency.
- It speeds up picking and packing operations.
A warehouse is a place where product arrives, gets stored, and is then sent back out. Tight spaces and hard-to-access shelves make picking orders more difficult to do, which slows down order processing. When workers cannot access product easily, it is possible for the wrong items to be put in the wrong shipping containers or to leave products out completely. Having aisles that are not conducive to accommodating forklifts and other large pieces of equipment that make moving inventory safer, easier, and faster can result in additional safety, speed, and accuracy issues.
- It keeps the receiving area clear.
As fast as inventory leaves, more arrives. That stock needs to be processed and put away as soon as possible to ensure product is available for picking and to keep the receiving area clear for future arrivals. When there is not enough elbow room in the warehouse, whether for people or for products, putting stock away gets slowed down, and the receiving docks remain cluttered with sitting stock waiting to be relocated.
Giving warehouse personnel and equipment the adequate amount of space needed to do their job will increase warehouse efficiency. It will reduce errors and make operations run smoother. If your warehouse space does not offer enough elbow room, it is time to figure out why and address the issue.