If you’re finding your warehouse needs more space or more efficient ways of operating, you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Warehouse restructures can benefit your business in a variety of ways, but undoubtedly it can be seen as a large and daunting task with no beginning or end.If you need more space, read this before you relocate. We’ve put together 3 easy steps to consider so that you can prioritise the most important elements that require a restructure in your warehouse.
Step 1: Research warehouse types and layout
The most important step in the research process is understanding the kind of warehouse your business operates. Do you have a special commodity warehouse with a unique set-up? Do you require cold storage or refrigerators? Or is your warehouse catered to general merchandise?
The kind of warehouse you run will directly impact the most efficient layout, and determining important factors such as optimal stack heights, the number of aisles, the size of staging areas, order picking lines and storage spaces can all save you money by improving efficiencies.
For example, fast moving items or inventory should be stored in areas with the least travel distance and stored in deep racks. You’ll also save time by storing items that are received together in the same area.
Pro tip: Improve dock utilisation by introducing a ‘U’ flow layout
A 'U' flow occurs when the goods receipt and dispatch functions are located at the same end of a warehouse building and items with higher turnover are located closer to the loading bays.
Products flow-in on receipt, move in to storage in the back of the warehouse, and then to shipping, which is located across from receiving on the same side of the building. An example of this is demonstrated in the image on the left. (Image source.)
Step 2: Overhaul your infrastructure to optimise storage
Once you understand more about the kind of warehouse your business runs and the flow of goods moving in and out, it’s important to ensure your warehouse infrastructure is redesigned to fit the needs of your space.
If storage is your pain-point, think about these simple ways of utilising your space better.
Add a mezzanine floor
If you have enough ceiling height in your warehouse, this is valuable space that you can use for extra storage. Building a mezzanine floor for space that would otherwise be wasted could potentially double your warehouse space.
A rack supported mezzanine floor can utilise pallet racking as support, so this will not only give you an extra level of storage, but you’ll find more free space on the ground floor as well.
Restructure racking so that it works smarter
Once again, racking spaces need to be catered to the needs of your business. Are you working with a First In First Out (FIFO) principle in mind, or perhaps a First In Last Out (FILO) principle? Different warehouse flows will require different rack requirements, consider performing a current audit on your racking set-up to see if it’s working for you.
Step 3: Get your cooling and heating facilities right
The increase in dynamic demand for small goods has made contemporary warehouses evermore complex. Automated supply chains powered by comprehensive real-time software require increasing energy consumption.
We covered how to make your warehouse more green in our previous post Is your warehouse green? Here’s why it should be, where we explored the cost-savings associated with reducing your energy consumption.
However, a few quick fixes to your infrastructure can ensure your warehouse restructure can also optimise energy savings.
Repair and maintain seals
Energy loss for heated or refrigerated warehouse spaces can often be compounded by gaps around loading-dock doors during loading and unloading operations. Sealing any unwanted gaps will reduce air infiltration into cooled or heated areas of your warehouse, minimising energy loss.
Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems—including changing filters regularly is also important for warehouse optimisation. You don’t always need to buy new equipment during your restructure, but proper asset management can save you time and money.
Fanning your warehouse floor
If the space is air conditioned, ceiling fans save energy by improving air circulation, allowing the temperature setting to be lowered by as much as 2.5°. If the space is not air conditioned, using large ceiling fans also has the added benefit of improving employee comfort, morale, and productivity.
Big Ass Fans offer a range of large fans that move air throughout the entire space, from ceiling to floor and wall to wall, including up and over obstructions such as machinery and stacked product. This airflow pattern ensures air reaches all corners of the building, maintaining consistent conditions throughout and eliminating condensation and stagnant areas where product integrity is a concern. They’ll be exhibiting at CeMAT AUSTRALIA 2016 if you’d like to find out more, register your free pass here.