Warehouse layout and design tips

It does not matter what sort of warehouse you run, how big it is or what products you stock, you need to make sure that the layout and design are considered carefully. Both elements play a critical role when it comes to the efficiency of your warehouse. If the design is not logical and the layout is difficult to navigate, your warehouse is only going to hold your business back and stop you from achieving the success levels you are capable of. With that being said, read on to discover some useful tips and suggestions for warehouse design and layout.

Implement a warehouse management system (WMS) – There is only one place to begin when it comes to modern warehouse businesses today, and this is with technology. After all, technology has revolutionised the way in which we go about our business, across all industries. Warehouses definitely fall into this notion. A WMS can help you to collect and assess measurable historical data so that you can continuously make intelligent decisions and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your warehouse. You should look into the implementation of automated asset tracking data collection methods. Avoiding manual entry and going down the automation route can ensure that there are not any downstream mistakes. Going one step further and giving all of your assets unique tracking numbers is ideal. You will be able to also improve your forecasting once you have accurate data, and this will have an impact on how you set-up your warehouse, ensuring your layout is the most efficient.

Establish realistic goals for improving warehouse design – A lot of business owners dive right in and try to make improvements to the design and layout without any plan. You need to establish realistic goals before you start making any changes. What are you hoping to achieve by making changes to the layout and design of your warehouse? For example, do you want to improve the efficiency of the returns process? Are you trying to implement a specific philosophy, for example, a lean warehouse philosophy? Is the main area that you want to focus on inventory? By establishing clear and specific goals, you will be best placed to make improvements.

Don’t overlook health and safety – No matter how big or small your warehouse is, no matter what your operations consist of, you need to make sure that health and safety are at the forefront of all of your decisions. You can help to save lives and stop worker accidents from occurring by enforcing operational safety standards and making wise warehouse layout choices. Docks are especially dangerous. You need to ensure that all operators are certified to use heavy equipment, enforce safety protective equipment rules, avoid forklifts approaching dock edges, keep aisles clean, and make sure that everything is secured.

Think twice before expansion – You need to think twice before you decide to expand the storage and design of your warehouse. Have you truly run out of space at your warehouse? Or, could it simply be that you are not using the space that is available to you efficiently enough? One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of warehouse owners make is that they do not utilise vertical space enough. There are many different ways you can do this to create a highly efficient warehouse environment. For example, you can use pallet racking in order to stack pallets on top of one and other in a safe and secure manner.

Talk to your employees – One of the most effective ways to decide where improvements need to be made is by talking to your employees. After all, they are on the floor in your warehouse day-in and day-out. So, surely they know better than anyone else where the most problematic areas are in the warehouse. If the same sort of issue keeps cropping up, you know that it is something that needs to be changed in order to make the warehouse more efficient.

Consider engaging outside experts – Last but not least, it is wise to be open to the idea of getting expert advice regarding your warehouse. After all, in recent years, warehouse design has changed considerably. Big distribution centres have moved from single channel inventories, now operating multi-channel inventories. In fact, there are a lot of small warehouses that have also started to automate their operations. An outside expert can do an objective and thorough assessment of your warehouse, pointing you to any signs of trouble. It can often be difficult to look at your own operations from an objective viewpoint. Sometimes we overlook issues simply because we are so used to them, and so we don’t recognise problematic areas. This is where an outside expert can really come in useful. Not only this but they will have contacts with the likes of cladding companies and warehouse software firms, ensuring you get the right help you need if you do need to make any sort of improvements of changes at your warehouse.

So there you have it: some useful tips that can help you to optimise the layout and design of your warehouse. Irrespective of how big or small your warehouse is, or what sort of products you stock, it is imperative to ensure that you carefully consider the layout and the design of your warehouse. Both elements have a monumental impact on the overall efficiency of your operations and the success that you achieve as a business. It is important to recognise that this is something that you should continue to re-address going forward so you can make sure that you are always maintaining high-efficiency rates.

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