The Best Techniques for Improving Your Warehouse Space
When it comes to warehouses, organization is critical in providing a well-oiled supply chain. Warehouses that are optimized for efficiency will save companies time and money in their day-to-day operations. That is why it’s essential to create the best layout and follow the best tips for trouble-free storage, order preparation, and receiving inventory. There is a perfect combination of floor space, racking, and warehouse management waiting to be implemented, but it can be challenging to find the solution to that puzzle. This article will help you choose the best warehouse storage solutions for easier operations and a better bottom line.
Assessing Your Space
For efficient warehouse operations, there are several tips and best practices for any storage location. Professionals in almost every industry abide by these general guidelines to smooth out processes and keep things running at their peak capacity. Take note of these three tips to become brilliant in the basics of warehouse operations.
1. Clean and Uncluttered Spaces
Sometimes at a glance, it’s easy to tell if a warehouse is running as efficiently as possible. A well-put-together warehouse will be clean and tidy with floors free of anything that could hinder foot traffic or forklift operations. A clean warehouse will mean better visibility and accountability for all inventory at any given time. On the other hand, a warehouse that is a disorganized mess will send the wrong message to visitors and staff, make it harder to find inventory, and can lower revenue and productivity.
It is always recommended to walk through your space to check that everything is clean, arranged nicely, labeled correctly, and everything is easy to find. For clean and orderly spaces, block off time each day or week to ensure aisles are swept, cleaned, and all inventory is organized. A clean warehouse is easier to work in and easier on the mind, so starting here is a perfect opportunity to improve operations.
2. Optimized Areas
Warehouses are very much three-dimensional spaces that should utilize every square foot to their advantage. A good warehouse design will leverage every foot of vertical and horizontal space to its benefit. Vertical space costs much less than adding on to sprawling floor space, and storing up rather than out can provide a more efficient and compact warehouse space. For example, in a 30,000 sq/ft facility, storing pallets under an 18’ ceiling vs. a 38’ ceiling can mean a whopping 133% increase in storage space. That’s a big difference.
Adding warehouse rack systems that take advantage of the space above will pay dividends in the long run. Shelving and rack systems are important choices, and you should consider having multiple styles depending on inventory size. This can save a good deal of space and prevent smaller items from getting lost on large pallet racks.
When optimizing your horizontal and vertical space, it is best to be mindful of your aisle width. Having narrow aisles is a great space saver, but ensure there is plenty of room to maneuver the inventory in and out of their places. Narrow aisles in warehouses are generally classified as 8’-10’ wide, versus 12’ or more in standard aisles. To have smaller aisles, you must have the proper forklifts to fit and navigate within smaller spaces.
Installing mezzanines can be another good way to maximize vertical storage without having to move warehouses. These platforms can provide extra space for growing operations more cheaply than moving altogether.
3. Safe and Efficient Material Handling
Safety should always be the top priority in warehouse operations. Ensuring everything is OSHA compliant and safe isn’t just good for your employees and managers; it can streamline daily tasks and ensure no hang-ups or incidents that delay shipments.
Having more employees become certified to operate different equipment will allow for faster and safer inventory movement in your warehouse. Extra attention to safety will always pay off with decreased liability and better morale and work. Warehouse managers can improve operations and safety with periodic training and inspections to keep everyone on the same page.
Maintaining a lean inventory is one of the easiest ways to ensure your warehouse doesn’t become overcrowded. Having only what you need on hand in your warehouse will make your workers’ lives easier with less to keep track of and search for when required. Having less freight to organize and only receiving the inventory that you need at the moment will significantly improve efficiency and trim the amount of time spent on hauling pallets around the warehouse.
Lean inventory management can also help in the following ways:
- Removing unnecessary inventory from the warehouse
- Allowing your most in-demand inventory to be stored front and center
- Minimizing mis-picks, congestion, and bottlenecks
Find out if your suppliers can deliver loads to match your warehouse’s capacity and find the perfect margin of error when dealing with safety stocks. Lean inventory management can be a huge cost saver, so keep that in mind when organizing your space.
Better Labeling and Easier Identification
A good system of labeling makes all the difference when it comes to tracking and storing your inventory. By storing inventory items according to SKUs or other identifiers, you can cut down on time it takes to find items. This also makes it easier to provide a map of where everything is located digitally.
Labels are an integral part of having a well thought out inventory control system for:
- Updating your onhand inventory with a single scan
- Identifying when to reorder items that are becoming low
- Providing accurate records while eliminating manual entry errors
With barcode scanners, employees can document items into the system more efficiently and with less room for errors. Having a digital system makes picking and shipping items a breeze with fewer mistakes and happier end customers.
Technology and Automation
All companies are trying to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to the logistics of warehousing. Everything you can do to streamline operations will save you time and money and position you ahead of the competition.
Turnkey warehouse automation and integrated systems will help you minimize costs while optimizing every aspect of your operations. Entire warehouses can be automated to store and pick inventory while reducing labor costs.
RFID tracking will remove the need for manual scanning and information uploading while providing a minute-by-minute accurate record of inventory. RFID codes can be read even if the items are behind other pallets. This tool can benefit warehouse management by allowing them to make well-informed supply chain decisions at any time.
Seeking Expert Guidance
Researching best warehouse management practices is essential, but seeking professional consulting on performance can significantly improve your efficiency and productivity. Personalized solutions from an experienced warehouse optimization service can provide a tremendous ROI from even one visit. Better management tips on planning and organization will mean faster, smoother, and safer material handling and will ultimately mean more customer satisfaction.