Warehouse workers perform functions related to receiving, processing and shipping of goods and materials from warehouse. Their responsibilities may include packing and shipping orders or managing, organizing and retrieving stock. Success in a warehouse role requires good physical fitness, ability to follow instructions and a positive attitude towards work. The job can be rewarding if one enjoys meeting targets and prefers to be on feet rather than at desk. People usually start out as Warehouse associates and then go on to learn specialized skills such as pallet jack, forklift, eventually progressing to become coordinators, inventory managers and ultimately warehouse managers.
Typical Warehouse Layout
A warehouse layout refers to the design of the warehouse, represented in the form of a plan. A good warehouse design should help avoid congestion, facilitate maintenance tasks and establish the resources required to enable fast workflows. A typical warehouse consist of,
A. Loading and unloading areas
B. Reception area
C. Storage area
D. Picking area
E. Dispatch area
- Loading and unloading areas are normally located outside the warehouse however sometimes these could be incorporated inside the warehouse right at the entrance. Trucks and vehicles transporting and distributing goods have direct access to this area.
- Reception Area is generally located as independently as possible from the rest of the warehouse, so that it can be used not just for receiving goods, but also for quality-control and sorting.
- Storage Area as the name suggests is used to store goods after receiving them. Goods can be stored in a number of different ways: directly on the ground; stacked on the ground (or in blocks); or on racking units.
- Order picking areas are used for preparing orders and can at times be integrated into storage areas, especially when picking from rack units. In larger warehouses picking areas can also be separate from storage areas, creating specific picking lanes, generally with automated or semi-automated systems.
- Dispatch areas mostly are used for packing orders prepared in the previously described areas. This area also can be used for goods that have to be loaded into the delivery or distribution vehicles.
Apart from the ones listed above, there are also other areas like management offices, changing rooms, bathrooms, and a separate space for recharging the batteries of handling devices.
Some basic warehouse terminologies
While working in a warehouse, it is important to familiarize with these warehouse terms to follow the instructions and process flow smoothly. Some of these terminologies are listed below,
- 3PL - Third Party Logistics – a warehouse or group of warehouses managed on behalf of the owner of the stock.
- Active Stock - Stock in active pick locations and ready for order fulfilment.
- HAZMAT - Hazardous Materials Handling.
- Buffer Stock - A quantity of stock kept in storage to protect against unforeseen shortages or demands.
- Cross Docking - Refers to the practice of moving products directly from the receiving area (from inbound trucks/trailers) to the shipping area (outbound trucks/trailers) for distribution rather than being put away and stored for a period of time.
- DDP/DDU - Delivered Duty Paid/Delivered Duty Unpaid
- FIFO - First In First Out – using stock based on when it was received.
- Pallet - It is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, work saver, or other jacking device, or a crane.
- Replenishment - The process that involves moving stock from a secondary storage area to a fixed storage location. This could also refer to the process of moving stock between distribution centers or from suppliers to meet customer demand.
- RFID - Radio Frequency Identification – electromagnetic field to identify and track tags on objects.
- Slotting - Placement of stock within a warehouse to increase picking efficiency.
- SKU - Stock Keeping Unit, this is a product or service identification number assigned to a unique item by a retailer. The SKU can be a number used internally or may be linked to the UPC (Universal Product Code) or EAN (European Article Number).
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