There are several things you can do to save space and keep your warehouse tidy.
Every business will go through a stage where there is not enough room in the warehouse. While this could be good news that your company is expanding, it can soon become a Warehouse Managers nightmare if not addressed.
A good starting point is to map out the layout of your warehouse looking at the full capacity of space that is available for you to use. You also need to see how you can appropriately use the area to allow warehouse staff members to get jobs done faster, working more effectively and productively while maintaining safe working practice at all times. The ultimate gain is that you will not only help employees work smarter, but you’ll be saving on overhead costs by not expanding unnecessarily.
Moving hasn’t got to be your only option.
We often speak to clients that are concerned they need larger warehouses; this could be a relocation, extension or 3rd party storage. Moving is great, but it is also costly and disruptive.
A discussion as to where the business is at present, where they want to be, and the issues in the warehouse can lead to recommendations that result in using their space effectively and being able to further grow their business before considering a move.
Seven steps to evaluate your warehouse
Here are some top tips for better organising your warehouse and warehouse layout;
• Measure the actual space in your warehouse that you have to work with.
• Define the different areas within your warehouse, such as sorting, shipping, office, products locations, packaging storage and so on.
• Consider the best shelving and storage options for your products, such as multi-tier shelving, fixed, mobile and more.
• Create clear labelling throughout your warehouse to mark the aisles and product locations within your warehouse.
• Work with warehouse teams to create and establish optimal material flow paths and picking paths throughout the warehouse.
• Look at the fastest selling items and most popular products and put these in close and easy to reach locations so they can be picked and delivered quickly.
• Consider the slow-selling products and ensure these are not items you overstock on as this will open up more space in your warehouse.
You will then have a warehouse that feels spacious, clear and organised.
Going Further – look carefully at your stock
Looking at space is, in one sense the easy option. It is a long process to drill into stock levels and movements, but can in some instances yield more significant results and may save that costly move.
• Reduce SKU Quantities
You may find that your warehouse is overloaded due to too many pallets of the same SKU. While the ‘deal’ of buying more of a product may have been great, your storage space can’t hold it. If there is a ‘deal’ on speak to the supplier if they can deliver in stages to reduce the storage blockage at your end.
• Obsolete Inventory
Run a velocity report to see how often products are picked and if you find products are very rarely picked, or no longer picked, yet you have a large amount in stock, then look at returning them to the supplier, a sale to customers, donating them to charity or scrapping them to gain back the space in your warehouse.
Take a fresh look at your warehouse equipment
While it is tempting to use your existing hardware to save costs, different equipment, machinery and technology can be used to enable you to reduce the aisle sizes in your distribution centre significantly, and thereby optimising the space you have.
• If you mainly use a reach truck in your business, then you can have narrow aisles that are between 2.5 metres and 3 metres. This will give you an additional 15% increase in storage capacity.
• If you use specialised trucks such as Swing Mast Trucks, then you can have very narrow aisles which will give you a 30% increase in storage space.
• Other passageways can be narrowed down even further if the order quantities, product types and ranges are considered, such as items that can be hand-picked and don’t require forklift access.