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A successful warehouse layout will draw a lot of contracts. That, of course, could never be possible if the right planning and design are present. A contemporary warehouse’s most important aspect is the storage. The way it’s designed, built, and organized makes clients understand whether you’re a serious business partner who knows what he’s doing.
For that reason, your warehouse’s logistics and layout must be in perfect shape. That requires planning, strategizing, but also experience. For those of you who are just starting out, this article will prove to be more than beneficial.
In today’s post, I’m sharing 6 ways to effectively optimize your warehouse layout. Pay attention, take some notes, and make sure you apply what you learn here!
Define Your Goals and Expectations
Before you start optimizing anything, I’d highly advise you define (or redefine) your warehouse layout’s goals and expectations. Just like any business cannot start with a proper plan, your warehouse cannot reach its maximum potential without a proper set of guidelines and directions.
When you define your warehouse’s layout, the objectives you establish must be precisely defined. The objectives must be in alignment with your company’s overall warehousing techniques and strategies. A higher goal (that is also a bit general) would be to provide excellent customer service while reducing the warehousing expenses.
Nevertheless, the goals you set can (and should) be more specific. For example:
Provide maximum flexibility
Maximize the warehousing effectiveness and efficiency without increasing the costs or the resources
Start with a Schematic
Regardless of your warehouse’s available space and shape, you should always start with a schematic. That means you need to put it all down on a paper.
You can simply do that by leveraging the blueprint of your warehouse. This is a critical step especially if your warehouse is somewhat large or if it presents a different shape than a standard rectangle. If the warehouse is leased or rented, you should always request the blueprint from the landlord that owns it.
Use a grid paper to draw your warehouse schematic. One square should equal one square foot. Once you get it done, make sure you mark the stationary features like overhead doors, office area build-outs, supports and columns, installed equipment, etc. in order to simplify the optimization process later on.
Constantly Review Your Warehouse Layout to Identify Flaws
While most companies involve a lot of time, effort, money, and other resources to develop an effective warehouse layout, very few companies tend to regularly review and optimize those layouts. In order to maintain high efficiency and high levels of space utilization, it is critical to developing processes designed to assess and reassess the current performances.
Ideally, you should strive to make small modifications like adjustments to shelving, racks, or to various other different elements of your warehouse on a consistent basis. And since most warehouses nowadays are dependent on data, every detail such as product and storage location should be updated and kept accurate. A useful strategy is to keep all your information stocked in a single system of record.
Draw More Layouts Before Validating Your Final Decision
Before you make your final decision regarding the final layout version, it is ideal to draw more than two internal and external layouts. By having more options and schematics, you can come up with the perfect layout by looking at the benefits and flaws that are present in each warehouse layout plan.
Also, make sure you mark the difference between internal and external layouts because both are critically important. The external layouts will show where your warehouse area will be located and where the parking areas and roadways will be, while the internal ones will include the various areas that will be used to divide the storage (the specific number of dock areas that are needed and the primary dock).
Here’s what you need to consider before validating the internal warehouse layout:
Environmental aspects and potential issues
The final step of the validation process presumes to align your drawn plans with your initial warehouse objectives and expectations.
Conduct a Survey to Acquire More Relevant Data
Once again, data is the most critical part when it comes to effective warehouse layouts. If you keep your data in check, you will encounter minimal problems during the optimization process.
Nevertheless, sometimes, there’s not enough relevant data to develop an effective design or optimization plan. If that is the case, you need to start surveying the distribution center and acquire visual information that tells you what needs to be stored.
There are various processes of surveying like using a database of product dimensions to define the product cube. Or, you can survey the storage cube and asses each item from each bin in order to define the SKU number.
Nevertheless, if you’ve never done a survey before, I’d highly advise you rely on professional services. Some of the reliable services I used before were:
Offer Forklift Operators Enough Space to Move
Forklift operators must always have enough space to move in order for your warehouse to run effectively. For that reason, your schematic should include this aspect and address the potential problems that may arise when storing various large items.
The main idea is to provide your forklift operators a wide path that they can always use to move effectively without encountering problems. The simplest way to do that is to place all your stored packages and products up against the walls.
Whether you realize it or not, designing a highly effective warehouse layout is a pretty complicated job. The process requires knowledge, skills, and a decent deal of experience. If all of these procedures scare you, I’d highly suggest you consult a professional who can guide you through. Use today’s tips and tricks to adapt your current strategies and improve upon them as much as you can!
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