Setting Up Efficient Packing Table Workstations in eCommerce

What is a Packing Table Workstation?

A packing table workstation is an area where orders are packed and labeled for shipping. It should be kept clutter free and have shelves for packing materials. Packing tables need to be strong and durable to withstand constant use and heavy weight. 

A factor to consider when setting up a packing bench is that it should be ergonomic. Supplies and materials should be positioned within comfortable reach and kept in the same place on each shelving unit. Examples of supplies that should be easy to access include:

  • Packing materials
  • Boxes
  • Poly bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Tape

There should also be easily accessible storage space nearby and a place to hang and store tools such as a tape gun or staple gun. Custom packing tables that consider available space can be set up to meet the needs of your organization. Larger eCommerce companies may benefit from a spacious packing table that’s accessible from all sides, allowing it to be used by multiple people at the same time.

To find out how ShipHero sets up our own packing stations, check out this video!

Workflow at Packing Table Stations

For maximum efficiency, determine the job duties of warehouse staff to make sure there isn’t duplicated effort. Who is responsible for bringing orders to the packer or checking line items to the packing list? A procedure needs to be in place regarding damaged items. If items that are about to be packed are found to be damaged, there needs to be an area for storing partially packed orders until damaged items are replaced. 

Replenishing Supplies at the Packing Station

Packing-related supplies need to be replenished at the packing station periodically. Determine who is responsible for taking care of this. Packers shouldn’t have to interrupt their process to go find replacement supplies or wait while someone else puts fresh supplies on the station. A way to replenish supplies quickly is by using portable supply carts that can be wheeled up to the table. Some packing tables can be accessed from the back so that the packer doesn’t have to pause their process.

Moving Items Away from the Packing Station

A procedure also needs to be defined regarding how packed orders are moved away from the packing station to the shipping area. An effective way to do this is to have a conveyor belt within arm’s reach that moves completed packages to the shipping area. When this is set up right next to the packing table, the packer may be able to slide packages on the conveyor belt so that the packages do not have to be lifted or carried. Another option is for completed packages to be placed on a wheeled cart that’s rolled away when it’s full.

What Happens if a Packing Table Isn’t Well Designed?

When packing table workstations aren’t well designed, it can affect productivity and increase the risk of errors in order fulfillment. When time is being wasted because of disorganized pack tables, labor costs may go up and you may have to pass on increased shipping and handling costs to your clients. An area that’s not kept clutter-free can increase the chances of dropping and breaking items or mislabeling packages.

Preventing Injury

Accidental injuries occasionally happen on the job so it’s a good idea to consider how much potential for injury there is when thinking through how ergonomically correct your company’s packing stations are. Time spent hunching or crouching can cause damage to muscles or bones over time. The packing station and height of office chairs should be adjustable to take the worker’s height into consideration. If it’s possible to have workers push boxes onto a conveyor belt rather than lifting them, it can help to prevent back or shoulder injuries.

Improving the Ease of Use of a Packing Station

When a packing station is being used regularly, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how smoothly things are working and see if there’s a way to make the packing station more efficient. Is time being wasted because frequently used items aren’t easily accessible? Pay attention to processes that may need to be simplified or modified, such as time spent walking to get items from pickers and time spent crouching or hunching.

Clients expect speedy delivery, and an efficient packing table workstation is an important part of having a streamlined order fulfillment process. Periodically review the effectiveness of your packing stations and see if changes need to be made to improve efficiency, whether your goal is to increase packing speed or reduce breakages.

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