Anyone who is managing a warehouse will know that making the best possible use of the available space is vital to both efficiency and profits. Technically, a warehouse should be regarded as having run out of space if it reaches the point of being around 85% full. That applies to all areas, from the storage sections to the receiving and shipping ones.
Many companies that regularly struggle to fit the necessary inventory into the existing space view expansion as the only real solution to that problem. However, expanding the warehouse is a very expensive and time-consuming way of addressing a common issue; there are other methods that will be much more cost effective.
Read on to learn what they are.
The reason a warehouse is adjudged to be full when it reaches 85% capacity is because beyond that point it becomes hopelessly congested. This means inventory being stored in inappropriate places – such as the aisles – that lead to it getting in the way of the workers. As a result, this causes delays, inefficiency and frustration.
The causes of such congestion can be anything from buying in too much stock to failure to keep track of outdated inventory cluttering up the main storage areas. So, how can you tackle the problem without expanding your space?
1. Look to extend upwards
Many warehouses fail to fully exploit the vertical space that is available to them. The standard rule is that stock can be stored a maximum of 18 inches below the sprinkler systems and taking advantage of that is a good way to find more space for storage without having to extend the warehouse building. Of course, the right sort of shelving and racks will be needed to make it work.
Pallet racks are basic but effective for storing most items. These can be stacked high on top of each other to free up space on the lower levels of the warehouse.
2. Install a mezzanine
This is really a natural follow on from the previous point. A mezzanine is an intermediate warehouse floor that does not cover the entire floor space and that can be accessed from the ground floor below it. Essentially, it will provide you with an extra floor that can either be fitted with shelving or racks for storage or used for order processing.
It is an option that can sometimes increase the amount of space available within a warehouse by as much as double. However, if you are thinking about a mezzanine, make sure that the floor loading is capable of withstanding the weight.
3. Cut the storage aisle widths
Trimming the width of the aisles in the storage areas of your warehouse will leave more space for actual shelving and racks. A standard wide warehouse aisle will measure between 10 and 12 ft in width, but if that can be trimmed to eight or even five ft, it will create more room for storing inventory. If you plan to maximise your space in this way, it will be necessary to have suitable equipment though.
That could mean custom slim steel picking trolleys that are able to be moved through narrower aisles without problems. Otherwise, it will simply lead to further delays during the picking process.
4. Find space that is underused
Carrying out a thorough analysis of your warehouse layout may enable you to identify areas where the space is not being fully utilised. For example, many facilities have unused space above the doors to the shipping or receiving sections. These can be fitted with steel shelving or pallet racks and used to store stock that is coming in or going out.
Another option may be to hang shelving over the conveyor belt in your pick section. Inventory that is stored on these shelves can be replaced regularly either using the system of conveyor belts or by one of your workers.
5. Switch to high-density solutions
It is possible to fit your warehouse storage sections with high-density equipment to make better use of the existing space. An example of that would be to fit double-deep racks in place of single-deep ones. However, bear in mind that a reach truck would also be needed to load the pallets onto these racks.
Drive-in racks or push-back ones are further examples of high-density storage solutions. As with other types of equipment that are needed within a warehouse, you could have custom ones made that are designed to precisely fit the spaces that you have in your facility.
Here at Steely Products, we sell shelving, trolleys and other equipment for warehouses. All of it is manufactured at our base by qualified metalworkers We can create designs tailored to your needs. Use the contact form below to get in touch or place an order.Get a free quote