All packing stations fulfill the same basic functions, but depending on the specific needs of every worker and job environment, the exact design of a packing station can vary. Packing stations should be designed to optimize the item packing process, both for the sake of reducing strain and stress on the worker and to expedite the picking-packing-shipping process.
Orders that are packed quickly, safely, and accurately get to customers faster and in better condition, increasing their satisfaction and amplifying your company’s reputation.
Traditionally, packing stations were a last-thought, often squeezed into cramped or inefficient spaces for the sake of convenience. Today, the best warehouses and fulfillment centers design their packing stations to suit the needs of personnel and optimized workflow.
By customizing packing stations to the person using them and their preferred workflow, you can increase the speed and efficiency of your fulfillment services while protecting your staff from injury or stress.
A common mistake made when designing packing stations is to expect personnel to adjust to the design of the workstation rather than designing the workstation to suit the needs of personnel. To ensure that your design process starts on the right foot, consult with staff and packing personnel to determine what their needs are and to chart workflow.
Packing stations are used for a wide variety of tasks, all performed by packing personnel whose key area of operation is their workstation. Every step of the packing process needs to be easily facilitated by the design of the packing station, which is why it is important to consult staff and create a clear picture of workflow before you solidify a final design.
Tasks Performed at a Packing Station
While all facilities/staff will perform the packing process slightly differently, most packing workflows include some combination of the following tasks:
- Order consolidation: Some order packers may be tasks with the job of picking items before packing them, whereas others may receive orders already picked. Either way, there must be an area of the packing station on which to consolidate the order, double-check its correctness, and assess items before packing.
- Checking line-items and shipping details: Before orders can be packed, every item needs to be double-checked and confirmed for accuracy and quality assurance. During this step, packers will also check for special packaging/shipping instructions. To do this, staff will need access to a computer and monitor.
- Packing: The actual packing process will vary depending on the types of items your company ships, but this step always includes selecting appropriate packing materials and securely assembling the final package.
- Labeling: Before a package can be shipped, it needs to be labeled with the appropriate shipping details and address. To do this, staff will need access to a computer and label-printer.
With an understanding of the various steps in the packing process, you can easily create a workflow chart that will help to inform the design of your packing station. A workflow chart is a simple list that shows the various steps of the order packing process in the form of a straight line.
For example, a workflow chart may look like this:
Order consolidation → Quality assurance → Check packing list → Protect and pack → Label
A workflow chart can show you the order in which operations must be performed, and help you to design an optimal design that facilitates the easiest transition from one step to the next. Like your workflow, the actual workflow of your packing station should be linear to save time and movement during the packing process.
Storage & Accessibility
Although the actual work surface on which packing procedures are completed is an important component of a packing station, the key to creating the most efficient packing station is to create ample storage space and to customize for accessibility. Packing stations are designed to make packing materials more easily accessible to packers during the item fulfillment process, reducing the need for personnel to leave their packing stations to find materials and to locate supplies.
In addition to convenience, the purpose of designing a packing station with ample storage space is to reduce physical strain and injury due to unnatural movements.
When designing a packing station, organization should always be at the top of your mind. Every tool, piece of equipment, and type of material needs a designated and consistent home for fast, comfortable access.
Creating a clean, permanent organization system will help you to keep track of all materials, recognize when a reorder or restock of materials may be required, and help to standardize procedures for all members of staff.
Materials, Supplies, & Equipment
To ensure all materials, supplies, and pieces of equipment are accounted for in your design, create a comprehensive list of all necessary materials. The list should include everything that needs to be stored in the packing area including all packing materials, computers and data equipment, tools, special equipment, and so on.
Finally, when designing a packing station, consider the ergonomics of the overall design. Staff need to be able to reach everything comfortably and without causing unnecessary strain to the body, which means all materials must be readily accessible and in arms reach.
Using the workflow chart you created early in the process, try to condense movements to keep specific steps within a certain area so that personnel are not forced to move back and forth but, instead, can work in a ‘straight-line’ from one side of the packing station to the next.
Packing Station Components & Accessories
At OnePointe Solutions, we specialize in creating custom designs and helping our customers to find unique solutions to their unique needs. Designing custom furniture is just one of the ways we help our customers to optimize their operating procedures, and we offer a huge range of industrial furniture and casework to help furnish your workspace and support workflow.
Together with our design team, you can design fully customized packing stations tailored to the needs of your business and outfitted with all the accessories and features you’ll need to successfully pack orders for shipping. Once a design is completed, we’ll build your furniture right here in the US, then return to install your completed packing stations.
Packing stations and workbenches designed by OnePointe Solutions can include a wide range of optional add ons and accessories including:
Workbenches and industrial countertops provide the workspace on which packages are packed, and must be durable, comfortable to work with, and easy to keep clean and organized. Depending on the type of products being packed in your facility you can choose from a variety of materials including epoxy resin, maple block, and HDPE.
In addition to customizing your workbench materials, workbenches can also include special features like adjustable height, additional storage, built-in heat resistance, and more.
Packing items securely includes selecting appropriate packing materials like craft paper, foam, and protective bubble wrap. Materials like these are most accessible when kept on a roll, which is why you can choose to include roll holders in your packing station design.
Edge rails help to prevent items from rolling off or being knocked off of your workstation and can be added to virtually any countertop or workstation design.
Shelving & Cabinets
Overhead, floor, and built-in shelving, cabinets, and drawers make the perfect storage space for packing materials, tools, and equipment. Shelving can be made permanent or modular to allow for expansion or changes in workflow.
Keyboards & Monitor Holders
Computers, monitors, keyboards, and other electronics are permanently kept at packing stations to allow personnel to cross-reference orders, double-check for packing requests, and print labels.
We aslo carry foot support and ergonomic accessories, power strips (workstaion power outlets), foot options for fixed or mobility and much more to make your packing station fit you. Everytime!