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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If... You Can't Find the Package Under the Labels

By Kate Vitasek | 02/15/2010 | 7:32 PM
Yes! Back by popular demand. More bad labeling practices. The photos below show good examples of excessive labeling – or should I say a case with excessive labeling! Steve Murray helped this bad warehouse understand the importance of taming their labeling.

Excessive carton - item labeling applied during receiving process-image-3

In the photo, on the left, the original label applied by the vendor is the one under the orange dot and the bar code label, the one with “PRA #” at the top. The 3 other labels in the photo were applied upon receipt at the warehouse, and while the information on the labels may be of value, the fact that 3 separate labels needed to be prepared and applied is excessive. Believe it or not we have seen much worse examples, with some labels having conflicting information.

The second and third examples below show both computer printed and hand written versions of labels Excessive carton - item labeling applied during receiving process-image-1 where the pink one tells the unit size of the SKU and the orange one give the receiving ID number and quantity received. Note how the handwritten version has the SKU number on both labels and a third round label with the count.

The Warehousing Education and Research Council recommends you work with your supplier to ensure that all required information is provided by them on a label they print and apply to the packaging before it leaves their facility. Where that is not possible, we recommend applying a single label during receiving which contains all of the required information. For example, in the first photo, the round red label with a “3” designate the day of the week when the product was inducted. If you need this visibility, simply use single preprinted labels with colored dots on them – you need the colored dot anyway, right? Right?

I encourage you to take a walk through your warehouse and see if you need to tame your labeling practices. Use the “5 Whys” method to question the practices used. If you are not convinced - stop and think about the actual costs of the labels and labor to apply all of them. Then multiply it by your annual throughput. If you find yoursExcessive carton - item labeling applied during receiving process-image-2elf with more than one label, I suggest you read the section on “Product Labeling” in the “Receiving & Inspection Warehouse Processes” chapter in the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide, available from the WERC Online Store.

Another great source is my article on Ready, Willing and Label.

Lastly, I am sure the local representatives of labeling companies would be happy to give you an education session if you are willing to sit through a sales call. Companies like Zebra Technologies, Label-Aire, Primera Technology Inc. and many others are there to help provide solutions to support any size operation.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and perhaps what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected].

If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free warehouse assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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