Designing a warehouse layout seems like a simple task, but it’s quite complex. The design and layout of your warehouse can have a major effect on your operations including productivity, picking time and safety of the facility.
Without the proper layout & design, you will end up facing capacity issues, decreased productivity and storage inadequacies.
The key areas which should be focussed while working on the layout includes the type of commodity, volumes, size of the facility and operational requirement. Also, while designing a warehouse you must keep in mind the future scalability of the business.
There are several principles that can be applied while designing the layout of a warehouse. Here we are talking about the 9 key principles which should be considered to increase the efficiency.
Nature of material to be stored
The layout of the storage area in the warehouse is entirely dependent upon the nature of goods. Similarly, the type of racks to be implemented for the storage also depends on the nature of goods. For example: If your inventory is big and heavy, you are required to use racks which are heavily built. Contrary to this, medium weight racks can easily take care of perishable and lighter weight goods.
Nature of operations to be carried out
While considering a design and layout of the warehouse, it is important to understand the nature of operations to be carried out. Warehouses dealing with different industries require different layouts to support the operations. For example: In B2B industries mostly activities are associated with box-in & box-out operations and these boxes require bulk storage capacity and bigger staging areas. Whereas B2C industry operational activities are associated with box-in and piece out. Similarly, cross dock requires a bigger staging area near the dock where stock can be stored after unloading and can be loaded directly for the dispatch.
Quantity/Volume of the material to be stored & handled
The minimum and maximum inventory holding, and the throughput are the deciding factors for space allocation within the warehouse. Wherein, warehouse management system (WMS) plays a key role, as it helps in better data management and is required for decision making while considering volume of the stock for handling or storage.
Utilization of cubic space
Have you ever thought that how we can increase per square ft. revenue by utilizing the space within the warehouse?
The key to this is the full utilization of cubic or vertical space
Full utilization of store’s cubic space is crucial in maximizing the use of the capital while minimizing operating expenses. The best stores will use every cubic centimetre of space for either vertical storage or overhead offices. The reduction of occupied space pays large dividends in terms of reduction of overhead costs.
Draw your flow of operation in paper to place right equipment in right areas
It is important to draw your flow of operation in a paper or rather make a spaghetti chart to identify the most efficient flow and place the required operational equipment accordingly. For example, racks, processing table, IT equipment’s, path of MHE’s, etc.
In-depth understanding of your inventory, slotting analysis
When you are running a warehouse, each square foot costs money to you and the size of each item is important, as the more space these items take up, the less space you have for other pieces of inventory. Hence, it requires a definite solution.
Slotting is the process where you define the quantity and size of all your forward pick and reserve locations by analysing the best combination of product category, velocity and unit of measure to place in.
Good to have several layouts to choose the most efficient one
It is always good to have all the possible layouts to be put together, both quantitative (e.g., financial costs) and qualitative (e.g., SWOT analysis) and evaluate advantage and disadvantages of each to identify the most efficient layout that meets the organisation’s objectives.
Traffic flow is a key consideration
A proper number & design of bay or dock can support both inflow and outflow traffic efficiently. There must be enough space to be considered in the layout for inbound docking and cross docking based on the requirement of the operation.
Design the layout keeping safety in consideration
An important consideration while designing a warehouse layout is safety. Ensuring the warehouse is safe not only prevents accidents but it also helps the operation to run smoothly and efficiently. You need to have safety routes and evacuation plans in place, make sure your co-workers are trained on systems and equipment.
Inventory is one of the biggest assets of any business, and a warehouse is a place where inventories are managed & stored. Considering the above principles, an efficient layout of the facility can help you save costs, create a more efficient workplace, make the most of the available space, and most importantly create a better experience for co-workers & customers.