A warehouse is sometimes referred to as a giant “box”, but it is so much more than a large storage area – it is the busy center of operations for many commercial and industrial enterprises. Effective warehouse space planning is key to ensuring a smooth workflow, as well as saving on costs and boosting productivity. Here are ten top tips to get the most out of the space that is available in your warehouse facility.
Make effective use of shelving and racking
Choose the types of shelving and racking that best suit the needs of your warehouse operations. There is a wide variety of heavy duty and light duty shelving available, which can be purchased new or second hand. Popular types include rivet, wire and steel shelving. Pallet racking also comes in a range of sizes and systems. Shelving and racking form the skeleton of a warehouse and are at the core of its organization.
Maximise use of vertical space
Shelving and racking systems can be extended vertically to use as much of the available vertical space as possible, thereby freeing up floor space. Racks can be built into an overhead tunnel or over-dock formations. Also, mezzanine levels can be built in the warehouse – although these can be expensive, and do reduce the flexibility of the workspace.
Assess your aisles
Aisles in warehouses are often made wider than they need to be. Measure and evaluate their width and narrow them as much as possible. Very narrow or mobilized pallet racking systems can be leveraged to optimise the use of space.
Keep paths clear
It goes without saying that all work paths need to be kept clear of obstacles and inventory. Consult with floor staff regularly to check that workflow is smooth and that there are no issues with the designated paths. Ensure that incoming and outgoing stock always has a storage area that does not block any paths. Also, check that doorways are not blocked.
Be open to revamping
If your operations expand beyond the current capacity of the warehouse, explore revamping as an option – shelving and pallet racking systems can often be adjusted and accessorized to increase their capabilities and functionality. If revamping will not suffice, it is important to be open to the possibility of moving to a new, larger warehouse.
Position inventory strategically
Fast-moving items should be stored near the shipping area to minimise movement and effort when retrieving them. This strategic step in warehouse space planning can save significant amounts of time.
Optimise inventory management
All inventory needs to be carefully labeled, as do shelves and racks, and similar stock should be grouped for ease of access. Regular checks should be performed, and outdated or very slow-moving stock cleared or moved out of the warehouse.
Factor in temporary storage facilities
It is useful to build, designate or arrange temporary storage facilities, such as a storage building near the warehouse, or section of another warehouse, to handle seasonal stock peaks and similar situations. This prevents the warehouse becoming overloaded with goods.
Assess workflows regularly
An important part of warehouse space planning is ongoing analysis and evaluation of daily workflows. Review the efficiency of stock movement using observations, and interview workers to obtain their feedback.
Optimise use of corners and aisle ends
Aisle ends and corners are often ignored as dead zones in warehouse space planning, but they can be utilized as extra storage space. Investing in high-density shelving options like robins can be an effective way to store tools and small items, freeing up space in other areas of the warehouse.
Finally, when undertaking warehouse space planning, remember to integrate warehouse office space and staff rest areas, as well as to lift systems such as forklifts. The building is so much more than a simple storage area.
For any further inquiries visit www.sscomp.co.za .