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All You Need to Know About Packing Stations: Layouts, Uses, and Importance

Dec 2, 2021 | All Articles, Ergonomics, Productivity

A packing station is a workspace where goods are prepared for shipping. It is where the goods are checked, packed, and labeled for shipping.

Successful order fulfillment is directly related to having an efficient packing station.

For example, if goods are not checked correctly, a faulty product may be packed and shipped. If goods are not labeled properly, the wrong product may be shipped. Also, if goods are not packed properly, they may get damaged in transit.

All three scenarios above represent a failure of the order fulfillment process because they lead to an unhappy customer.

You should consider investing in an efficient packing station if:

  • The goods you will ship are delicate and susceptible to damage in transit
  • The goods must get to customers as quickly as possible
  • You do not want the bad reputation that comes with late shipping or shipping wrong or damaged items

Businesses have come to realize how important packing stations are. More than ever, businesses want to design efficient packing stations so that their customers will always get the correct goods and get them on time and in good condition.

However, what are the things to consider when setting up your packing station, and what are the components of an effective packing station?

Read on to find answers to these questions and more.

Important things to take into account when setting up your packing station

When designing a packing station, you need to consider the work that will be done, the workflow, the items required to do the work, the priority of items, and ergonomic factors.

Let’s look at these in detail.

The purpose of the packing station

The function of the packing station or the work that will be done will define what you need for the packing station.

The work that will be done defines virtually everything about the packing station (from the packing station layout to the type of working surface and even considerations like lighting).

You should properly outline all the work that is done in the station.

In a shipping station setup, the work typically includes:

  • Consolidating orders
  • Final quality checks
  • Packaging
  • Addressing and labeling
  • Manifesting
  • Staging

Outlining work like this helps with having an efficient packing station layout. You’ll have a packing station specially designed to meet the unique needs of the required work.

For example, when considering the “final quality checks” work, you will plan where the checks happen. But you’ll also plan what happens if a defect is discovered (like where the partial order is staged while waiting for a replacement for the defective item).

Not properly outlining work will cause you to create a packing station that fails to address some critical needs.

Workflow

Understanding the order in which things will be done will help you plan a packing station that facilitates the transition from one step to the next.

The workflow is simply the sequence of work in the packing station from the beginning to the end.

So, considering your workflow will help you design a packing station that allows for a seamless transition from one step to the other in the order fulfillment process.

For example, by simply considering how items will be received in the workstation, you will know whether to design a workstation that connects to a conveyor belt system or one that allows for receiving items by cart or manually.

This custom standalone workbench over conveyor is a fine packing station idea when items will arrive and leave the workstation via conveyor belt.

If consideration is not given to workflow, the packing station layout will be poor. There’ll be detrimental delays between phases of work.

The tools and materials needed to do the work

All the tools and materials in the packing process need to be identified to provide storage space in the packing station.

Equipment and tools that you may need in a warehouse packing station include:

  • Computers (CPU, keyboard, and monitors)
  • Printers and scanners
  • Heat sealer
  • Stapler gun/ staplers
  • Gluer
  • Scales

Materials that you’ll need in a shipping station setup include:

  • Boxes
  • Bags
  • Envelopes
  • Labels
  • Stationery
  • Void fill material

Identifying all the tools and materials helps in planning specific locations for them in the packing station. This keeps the workspace organized.

The priority of items

The relative importance of the items needed to do tasks will determine where and how to place them in relation to the operator.

The more critical a tool or material is, the easier it should be for the operator to reach it.

The relative importance of any tool or material that’ll be in the packing station depends on different factors like frequency of use, sequence of use,  and force.

Frequency of use. Items used more frequently have more importance than items used less frequently, so they should be located where it is easier to assess them. This will make operations faster.

Sequence of use. Components can be arranged in the order they are accessed. The most common format is left to right and top to bottom. But each operator can personalize it to their preference.

Force. Items that require more physical exertion will also require special consideration. For instance, a custom cutout can be made on the work surface to fit a drop-in scale. The operator no longer needs to lift a heavy package to weigh it.

Ergonomics

The need to have operators do their work comfortably and efficiently will define what is needed for a shipping station setup.

The measures to fit the station to the worker and the task at hand can affect everything about the packing station.

For example, instead of a fixed-height workbench, you may consider an electrically height-adjustable workbench. This allows operators from different shifts to adjust the workbench’s height to their individual needs easily and quickly. That way, they won’t do too much bending, stretching, or reaching and hurt themselves in the process.

If operators build and fill large shipping boxes at the shipping station, an under work surface box building shelf can be incorporated into the layout. It makes sure that they work in an ergonomically neutral position.

Ergonomics improves employee well-being and optimizes performance. Failing to consider ergonomic options may lead to employee dissatisfaction, low morale, and increased chances of injuries. With these issues, employee productivity will inevitably drop.

Key components of an effective packing station

Depending on your work process, the following components are needed to build an effective packing station.

Workbench

Workbenches need to be sturdy and durable to withstand the wear and tear of the business environment. They also need to be comfortable to work with.

Here are some important questions to ask when you select your workbench.

  • How much surface is needed to perform the fulfillment tasks? The space should be big enough but not too big that you have to reach and stretch all the time.
  • What is the required maximum capacity? Take into consideration the shelving, equipment, and products.
  • How many people are going to use the packing station? Are they going to switch between sitting and standing during the shift? Electric adjustability is recommended if the height needs to be adjusted more than four times a year.

Uprights

Workbench uprights allow for the proper placement of workbench accessories.

They are an excellent packing station idea to organize and unclutter the workspace.

Uprights are also good ergonomic options. They hold accessories within the operator’s reach, reducing ergonomic risks of bending, stretching, and reaching. Minimizing these risks leads to improved productivity.

Shelves

Shelves provide storage space for the different materials and tools needed for the packing tasks.

Proper shelving makes the  workspace clutter-free and easy to access items.

When planning shelving, you need to consider the ergonomic principles and reach zones.

Here are some ideas:

  • Corrugate storage shelf with dividers can store different box sizes. It can also serve as extra storage space for low use items.
  • Adjustable shelf with tilt reduces wrist strain.
  • Under work surface shelving system keeps lesser-used items out of way. It’s easily customizable with pullout trays for extra workspace.

Lights & computer accessories

Proper lighting provides the operator with proper visibility to perform tasks. It improves the accuracy and speed of work. It also  helps workers avoid eyestrain and the headaches that usually follow.

There are different lighting options to consider such as LED overhead light, task light, and LED under shelf light

Adjustable computer accessories ensures the most ergonomic viewing angle and neutral body positions.

Conclusion

An efficient packing station makes for a successful order fulfillment process. In other words, it helps you ship the right goods to your customers quickly and in good condition.

Importantly, with an ergonomic packing station, packing activities are not only performed faster but  also  safer.

Packing stations optimize the placement of items to reduce ergonomic risks of bending, stretching, and reaching. Ultimately, this improves productivity.

Are you ready to improve productivity with an ergonomic packing station?

BOSTONtec is the perfect partner for shipping and packing workstation solutions.

We provide ready-to-ship models as well as tailor-made custom solutions. Whatever your needs, we have solutions that will improve your productivity.

Contact us for your workstations. When your productivity soars through the roof, you’ll be glad you did.

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