In production facilities, the term “staging area” can have many different meanings specific to many different tasks. These may range from simple loading areas to complex intake and outtake centers of a business. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that a staging area can be used:
1. Pre-Shipping Area
Often, a staging area is where items are prepared to be shipped out or loaded onto trucks. In these areas, finished products are gathered just in front of the loading bay doors or wherever they will be picked up. This allows for an easy spot for final inspections of goods for quality control just before they are loaded onto a truck or into a shipping container. If multiple products ship out from the same place, you can use your staging area for those products as well, eliminating the need for other short-term inventory storage solutions. If you have products that are loaded in different spots, you can simply replicate the staging area for each spot and product. There are disadvantages and advantages to each way, but the largest determining factor is going to be the size of your business and volume and variety of products sold (trying to be efficient by using a staging area for multiple products will quickly become inefficient if there are too many products for one loading space to handle).
2. In n’ Out!
No, I’m not talking about the famous fast food restaurant. In some setups, staging areas are actually a central transport hub not only for products going out, but also for inventory as it arrives. In order to best take advantage of this method, one should create two staging area “lanes” for intake and output. As products come in, they need to be sorted, labeled, and kept in their appropriate lanes for the entirety of their stay in staging/holding. This method provides a centralized area for you to tack all movement of items in your business. It is also great for incoming products because it allows them to inspected and accounted for right away; products can be quickly counted and sorted during the unloading process to ensure the accuracy of shipments as well. For the same reasons listed in #1, this method is also great for your outgoing items.
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3. Mid-Line Stopping Point
For products with an exceptionally long production cycle, a staging area can also be used as a type of checkpoint. In this method, more than one staging area may even be in place throughout the line. Basically, a staging area in this setup serves as a midpoint quality control and status update section. In a long production cycle, the last thing you want is for a flawed product to reach the end of the cycle without it being identified as such. Furthermore, supply and demand can change throughout the time it takes to make a long-term product, meaning that it might be time for a re-evaluation at the mid point. For example, a drop in demand at the mid point might mean that a few items are pulled out of assembly until demand for them rises again. In this way, you can cut down on waste/unneeded production by cycling the benched parts back in when they are required, rather than continuing to make more and ending up with a (potentially) perpetual surplus.
Staging areas have many different uses, but in general serve as a midway or last-ditch “breathing” area that allows workers to improve quality control and production efficiency. When using staging areas, remember to keep them organized; if a part needs to be fixed or put back into an earlier stage of production, don’t make any major modifications in the staging area itself, send it back to its appropriate station. This will prevent your staging area from getting cluttered with tasks outside of its scope, and keep its purpose clear and effective.