In this digital age, we often look first to advanced software solutions for improving the flow of the supply chain. While such systems can make a meaningful difference, it would be a miss to overlook the seemingly simple, yet vital labels that keep the supply chain moving.
When carefully selected and managed, they can serve many functions in the operations and inventory management sector, ranging from location tracking to capacity designation.
Warehouse labeling is far more diverse than most people realize. Different types of labels serve different functions for racks, pallets, and more. Strategic selection is critical, as the wrong label can wear out quickly, prompt unacceptable inefficiencies, or even create alarming hazards in the warehouse environment.
Warehouse location labels, in particular, are important, as they streamline the flow of both items and personnel to produce the safest and most efficient operations possible. The better you understand the various types and how they can be used, the more likely you are to choose the solutions capable of producing dramatic improvements to warehouse operations and the supply chain.
Common Types of Warehouse Labels & Materials
From various dimensions to a variety of materials and even storage temperatures, a wide array of designs and factors can influence labeling. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start.
In this guide, we will explore several of the most important types of warehouse labels. These include:
- Cold storage
- Adhesive floor
Among the most durable and versatile warehouse labeling solutions available, magnetic labels are designed to attach firmly to metal surfaces. They can be removed instantly and reapplied to other surfaces as needed. As such, they are primarily used for marking rack and shelf positions. They cost a bit more but are worth the price due to their adaptability and inherently durable nature.
Sometimes referred to as linear barcodes, 1D barcodes can often be found on packages. They are recognizable due to their alternating black lines, which appear in varying widths. These are capable of linking to dynamic databases, where new information can be produced without needing to replace the code.
While 1D labels can be useful in many situations, they’re limited in terms of storage. With 2D barcodes, however, storage is expanded through the use of patterns containing shapes such as hexagons or squares. The 2D moniker derives from the ability to read these barcodes both vertically and horizontally.
In situations that call for rugged labeling solutions, metal construction may be the best option. Urethane-coated steel or anodized metal, for example, hold up to heavy use. As such, they can be affixed to pallets, the floor, or other surfaces that might prompt damage to different types of labels. Metal options are compatible with both 1D and 2D barcodes.
License plate number (LPN) labels involve sequential barcodes for tracking moveable units. Under this approach, cartons, cases, and pallets are affixed with LPNs as soon as they arrive at warehouses. From there, essential data is entered into the appropriate warehouse management system to ensure that it can be quickly retrieved as soon as LPNs are scanned. This cost-effective solution is favored for its ability to minimize the time burden of data entry.
Chilly warehouse environments call for unique solutions that can perform in subzero conditions. Featuring protective coatings, magnet-backed labels, and freezer-grade adhesives, these options are built to withstand the extremely low temperatures that are required for the safe storage of many raw materials and other sensitive items.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the world’s most common synthetic plastic polymers, and for good reason: this material is extremely versatile. In the warehouse, it can be manipulated to form flat sheets and labels of varying sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and colors. A variety of graphic elements can be incorporated, including directional indicators, safety information, and even logos.
Adhesive Floor Labels
Low in cost yet surprisingly strong, adhesive floor labels are often constructed using plastic composites. Offering a quick but strong bond, they’re ideal for warehouse facilities that largely reserve storage for vast expanses of floor space. They can be designed for easy removal while still remaining strong enough for reuse. Applications include pallet lane marking, warehouse striping, and more.
Areas to Label
Labeling considerations can vary dramatically from one warehouse space to the next. The following are a few of the most important areas to keep in mind when selecting solutions:
- Pallet racks
- Storage bin/tote
- Floor labels
Warehouse Rack Labels & Shelving
The shelving units used to store equipment and inventory should be adorned with labels designating location, status, and other essentials. They can be affixed to both vertical upright frames and horizontal shelving beams.
Magnetic rack options are popular for facilities in which rack locations are regularly reconfigured. Otherwise, removable barcode labels provide a similar level of flexibility, with advanced adhesives minimizing the potential for leftover residue.
As pallet racks are moved from storage to picking, they’ll require label adjustments. As such, the removable styles referenced above are helpful. With location labels, magnetic solutions tend to offer the best return on investment. Many warehouses also favor LPNs, which work alongside inventory management systems to provide detailed insight into pallet status.
Capacity labels are also important, as they offer safety warnings regarding maximum load sizes. This information should be easy to spot. Regardless of the type applied to pallet racks, durability should be prioritized. Otherwise, they could suffer swift damage, which limits ROI.
Storage Bins and Totes
Often applied to plastic boxes, bins, and other containers, storage bin labels are used both for identification and location purposes. These should feature strong adhesives that bond easily. Cost-effective solutions are desirable, as high volumes may be required.
Labeled appropriately, bins can be organized in a way that streamlines everyday processes to make the warehouse environment as efficient as possible. This type is also useful for designating small amounts of stock that might otherwise be lost within larger pallets or rack shelves.
As referenced above, these can come in several forms, including adhesives, metal, and more. No matter the preferred system, these need to be able to hold up to heavy use. When utilized properly, they will optimize stocking and picking, making the higher investment more than worthwhile.
Custom Warehouse Labeling Solutions
Strategic labeling system selection is crucial in today’s warehouse environment.
As you determine which types of labels are appropriate for your warehousing situation, be sure to partner with a company that will work closely with you to create and implement a customized plan. Our team at Peak Technologies can help you select the best solutions for the racking, floors, and containers within your warehouse.