What is a packing station?
A packing station is used for packing goods ready for shipping. They are commonly used in warehouse, e-commerce and distribution environments. Packing stations usually consist of a packing table with built-in accessories to assist in the packing process. These can include storage shelves, padded mailing bag or box dividers, packaging roll holders, and packaging cutters. More advanced packing stations also have electrical and data features, including sockets to power computers and printers, networking equipment, and also lighting to help illuminate the working area.
Where are packing stations used?
Packing stations are used anywhere where items need to be prepared and safely packaged ready for delivery. You may think that packing stations and packing tables are only used in large warehouses and distribution centres, but smaller businesses also use packing stations to wrap up their products efficiently.
What are the benefits of using a packing station?
The main benefit of using a packing station is that you have a purpose-made area that is designed to improve the efficiency of the task at hand. They also help to keep all the packaging materials and accessories stored neatly in one place.
From personal experience as an eBay seller who didn't have a dedicated packing bench - it can get messy quite quickly when shipping large volumes or many different-sized packages.
People and businesses who benefit from using packing stations
- Small Business Owners
- Picture Framers & Artists
- Mail-order & catalogue businesses
- Subscription box services
- Online marketplace sellers for eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram stores.
- Distribution centres
- eCommerce retailers
- Gift shops
- Parcel handlers & mail services
- Department stores
Doesn't that look faster than using scissors?
Why should a packing station be as organised as possible?
Whilst a business is still starting up or doesn’t have many orders, it’s quite easy for business owners to just forget about the time that it takes to actually prepare, wrap, and ship products.
If you only have to ship two or three items a day, spending five minutes carefully wrapping each item isn’t much of a problem. If you have to ship 10 items, that’s suddenly almost an hour of your day you’ve spent wrapping things, and you’ll likely still have to tidy away all the packaging afterwards.
Now imagine a business has to ship 100 orders a day, or 1000’s…. This is where that packaging time really adds up.
Eventually, these businesses reach a tipping point, and the realisation occurs that packing items is a huge headache - it takes too long, it can be expensive, and it’s messy.
The solution is to shave down as many seconds from every step and every movement whilst keeping the area as tidy as possible. Let's say you don’t have an efficient packaging cutter and you’re using scissors to cut through bubble wrap when you could use a cutter.
By adding a packaging cutter to your packing station, you have shaved those precious seconds off the task at hand, made your life easier, and now your packing process is forever quicker.
In fast-paced shipping environments such as distribution centres, it is important to be as efficient as possible to save time and money. For this reason, many of these businesses are looking for fully bespoke packing stations and shipping benches that are designed to match their products and processes, as well as integrate seamlessly with their existing equipment and workflow.
What types of packaging and accessories should I use for my packing station?
Despite a packing station being used primarily for packing, there is often a lot of equipment and features a pack station needs in order for a packer to do their job efficiently. It’s not just about storing packaging and boxes.
For example, many packing stations include computers, scanners, and printers - all of which need to be able to “talk” to the warehouse management system.
Below you can find a list of common equipment and materials that are used with packing stations. Each of these items will be used in different ways at different times and ideally, you want to have the most used items in the easiest to reach places. They should also be clearly in view so even an inexperienced packer can quickly retrieve what they need.
IT & Electrical Equipment
- Barcode Reader
- Weigh Scales
- Heat Sealer or Vaccum Sealers
Packing Supplies & Equipment
- Bubble wrap
- Other Void fill materials & dispensers
- Kraft paper & wrapping paper
- Packaging cutters
- Safety knives
- Tape & Tape Dispensers
- Stapler & Staple Guns
- Jiffy Bags / Padded mail bags
Other Items that may need to be stored in the packing area
- Instructions & Guides
- Promotional material inserts (leaflets, brochures, vouchers)
- Packer's personal belongings (such as keys, ID cards, tissues, inhalers & medications, hand sanitizer etc)
How do you organize a packing station?
Follow these guidelines to create an efficient and organised packing station
- Have regularly used items in view and make them easy to access
- Ensure all items can be retrieved without excessive bending, reaching, crouching or stretching
- Everything should have a place, and be put back in the correct place once finished with
- Don’t use the worktop for storage as it will lead to unnecessary clutter and slow down the packing process
- Use the harder to reach areas of the packing station for less regularly used items.
- Use packaging roll holders and dispensers to keep bulky packing materials off the floor, clean, and easy to work with
- Store personal items in a lockable cupboard or drawer for safekeeping
- Mount IT Equipment off the worksurface using monitor brackets or posts, use adjustable or articulated monitor mounts to improve ergonomics
Packing Area Workflow Tips
- Plan for peak, always make sure you have excess packing space Whilst not every day is going to bring a sudden flurry of orders, it’s wise to make sure you have enough space for when things get busy. Ensuring the packing tables have generous space means that when order volumes do ramp up, your packers won’t feel suffocated in a chaotic environment.
- Segregate the packing workflow to match the products being packaged It makes sense to have different packing stations or materials to suit different types of products, especially different-sized products. Many smaller items are easy to package, so they don’t take up as much time. Larger items that are bulky, difficult to handle, and awkward to wrap may be best if sent to a shipping station designed to assist in packing bulky items.
- Segregate the packing workflow by packing volume If you have packing stations dedicated to high-volume items, these can be streamlined to suit those particular items and help to get those orders out the door quickly so they don’t accumulate and take up space.