Your warehouse needs to be as well oiled machine as any other part of your enterprise. After all, it’s where all your shipping, handling and distribution begin, and where the majority of your company’s moveable assets are located.
Consequently your warehouse layout needs to be optimised to ensure that your goods are easy to find, easy to finish and easy to get shipped off. This is much an art as a science, and will probably require a fair amount of experimentation, and trial and error before you get a design that’s truly seamless.
#1 Understand your products
To help get you started on working out a design plan for your warehouse layout, here’s a list of tips about setting up a truly efficient warehouse.
Before you can get into the ticklish business of storage management, you need to make sure you understand your products and the various attributes of each. This includes things such as their physical dimensions, their weight, whether they need to be stored at certain temperatures and humidity levels, and how they need to be transported. Such attributes will affect warehouse costs through such details as the sorts of equipment storage and transport of the product may need, such as refrigeration units or fork-lift trucks.
#2 Understand your clients
Another thing that’s useful to consider is to understand the people you’ll be servicing, including potential clients. It’s not always easy to anticipate every possibility, but trying to get a sense of your clients’ habits and requirements will help streamline your storage and distribution. It will also allow you to better accommodate unscheduled requests or changes, as you may already have foreseen the circumstances and prepared for the eventuality.
#3 Think 3D
A 2D, top-down plan is good for establishing a basic skeleton for a warehouse layout, however it will not account for everything in its overall design. Looking at a design in 3D will enable new perspective and insight into how a warehouse design might work, and thus promote further qualification. It also better assuages prospective clients to see a design that has been examined and tested on several levels.
#4 Keep it safe and healthy
Accidents and injuries in a warehouse are something your warehouse layout should seek to minimise as much as possible. By carefully considering where accidents are most likely to occur within a given workspace, you can better account for the event and significantly reduce the chances of injury. Doing so not only promotes the health, happiness and wellbeing of your employees within the warehouse, but also helps to prevent delays caused by those injuries and protect your product from damage.
You should also make sure your warehouse is capable of conforming to national health and safety standards. As such make sure there are no obstructed fire exits, no unsafe walkways and no unstable shelving.
5# Know your workload
Much like knowing your product or your clients, knowing the maximum amount of work your warehouse can be expected to reach will be critical in keeping it running smoothly. At any one time, your warehouse’s design must be able to handle high in/out traffic, constant foot movement and rearrangement of inventory, potentially all at once. Providing means within the layout of accommodating all these tasks in such a way that they do not interfere with each other is a key component of any warehouse design, and must be considered.
#6 Harmonise your work areas
When thinking about the layout, you should place a very strong emphasis on harmonising the different sections of your warehouse with each other to ensure the best possible time and space efficiency. For example, if a certain product has a very high turnover in your inventory, it’d be prudent to place them close to the finishing and shipping areas. Meanwhile product that does not move as frequently can be placed further in, where it can be pulled out when needed.
#7 Keep it simple
It may be tempting to create a very complex, multi-layered warehouse layout that attempts to accommodate every conceivable occurrence or error. However doing so will just waste time and energy. The more measures you take the more likely those measures and fancy positioning are to start to interfere with each other.
Further, having too complex plans also makes them less flexible. In the event of an unforeseen circumstance, your highly specific layout will be unlikely to cope with it, creating massive delays. Simpler plans are more malleable on the fly, and are more easily adjusted. Thus, keep thing simple.
#8 Always test it
You cannot truly see how well your design will perform on paper alone. Running your design through a simulator will help you gain an understanding of how time and cost efficient your design will be when it finally gets going. They also give you an insight into how your various design elements will interact with each other, and how they combined will effect your business.