How to Maximize Warehouse Space
Nearly every aspect of your facility impacts the bottom line, especially the layout and design of the warehouse. The design of the space has a direct impact on efficiency and productivity, down to every last square foot. A poorly planned warehouse layout typically means general tasks take longer to complete resulting in wasted time and resources. A well-designed warehouse should efficiently manage the flow of incoming and outgoing goods, minimize the physical handling of inventory, and increase the safety of your employees.
This article is designed to help you understand what you should consider when designing your warehouse layout and how to make the most of your space.
Utilize every square foot
Maximizing usage of the entire space is the key to a successful warehouse layout. The best guide to understanding how to maximize your warehouse to understand measurements of the space including:
Ceiling height - The clear ceiling height determines how high your materials can be lifted. This measurement should take into account the lowest ceiling-mounted components — sprinklers, lighting, HVAC system, etc.
Aisle Width - Minimizing aisle width allows you free up more usable floor and vertical space. Aisle width is largely determined by the type of forklifts you plan to use in your warehouse.
Structural Obstacles - Structural columns in your warehouse— if you have them — will dictate your racking design and aisle widths. In some instances, storage is lost if pallet positions are blocked by columns. Flipping the racking (e.g., vertical to horizontal) can hide columns within the racking, exposing more of the warehouse floor.
Improving space utilization can often include shifting locations of entire business units, even if the setup has been in place for years. Solutions like installing a mezzanine or a vertical storage solution can create more room in the warehouse and improve warehouse operations overall.
Optimizing the flow of goods within your warehouse allows for the streamlining of operations, reducing time it takes to complete tasks. An ideal warehouse flow arranges processes in a logical sequence that reduces travel time.
Choose the Right Equipment
An often overlooked warehouse design factor is using the right equipment. For example, warehouse aisle width requirements largely depend on the type of material handling equipment you use. Aisle dimensions are measured load-to-load to accommodate pallet overhang, but should also consider your forklift’s right angle stacking position.
Free Warehouse Assessment
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Where to Start
Ready to tackle your new warehouse layout? Here are the steps you should take to make it happen:
1. Understand current flow
Before putting any plans on paper, it’s important to first understand how your facility currently runs. This includes how goods currently move throughout the space, how many physical touches are required by workers, and where bottlenecks currently occur.
2. Anticipate future needs
Designing the optimum warehouse means designing something that will withstand the test of time. Think about what your business might look like 15 to 20 years from now. Will it have grown substantially? Is storage space overflowing? Will administrative staff need more offices? While thinking about what improvements would impact the business now, it’s important to plan for growth and potential needs down the road. These updates can take time and be expensive, so it’s a good idea to have a general roadmap of what might become a need in the future.
3. Create a warehouse layout schematic
A schematic is a blank slate where you can test potential warehouse layouts, process flows, and other optimizations on paper. Identify key business areas and place them on the schematic first. Key business areas can vary depending on the type of business you’re in. For example, if you manufacture goods, key business areas might be production equipment or assembly workstations. If your business is ecommerce, they might include storage space, picking and packing, or shipping.