Designing the Perfect Warehouse
Once you have found the perfect place for your warehouse, the nitty-gritty planning begins. The layout and flexibility of the warehouse can be the make-or-break of a business.
Warehouse Design Benefits
Once you have found the perfect place for your warehouse, the nitty-gritty planning begins. The layout, and flexibility, of the warehouse can be the make-or-break of a business.
By getting the design right, you can:
Visualise and Draw your Space
Visualising the space makes it easier to work out what will fit, where the paths need to lead to and, importantly, making the most of the nooks and crannies.
Remember to use height to your advantage, and add flexibility into your design for future requirements – e.g. increase in people, process volume, inbound deliveries.
Draw the space and mark out:
Use past production data for the warehouse – incoming volumes, types of deliveries (and types of dock), inventory levels required (and therefore storage space) and frequency of deliveries. The amount of storage needed is usually the driving factor in the size of facility.
Process Flow Routes
Make sure you add in good ‘process flow routes’ in logical places, with no cross-overs, dense work areas or bottlenecks:
Remember to space out shelving to leave room for vehicles to pass through and turn around, and if there is any static or very heavy machinery that the floor has the required load capacity.
If you have an upper or mezzanine floor that requires access, you also need to leave space for a goods lift which can improve movement and flow within a building very easily and allow you to make use of upper floors, as well as send items to or past floors with restricted or no pedestrian access. Gartec provide different sized goods lifts, tailored for goods from pallets and crates, to trays and trolleys. Remember to think about whether you need one with an attendant, or just a lift to call and sen, as this changes cost and features required.
Plan Automation and Machinery
Consider what you will need for:
If there are likely to be changes due to growth or different processes then using modular or knock through panels in the walls allows for easier future flexibility.
Storage in warehouses is the most important area to get right. The amount of storage needed should be calculated based on what you need – over or underestimating can cause big problems or wasted space later.
Storage is generally in the form of racking. Racking comes in many forms – work out your needs based on requirements for:
Any storage needs to be secured properly to the floor and walls, and must be safe for employee use.
Think about what materials and stock you will need to access –pallets? Packs? Individual items or batch numbers? Making sure your warehouse makes accessing stock quick, easy and logical is vital to efficient and productive work – and prevents frustration in staff.
Space for stock needs to be carefully calculated – 25% less space than you need will impact operations during peak times.
‘Going green’ is increasingly popular and is a key driver for many companies looking at their supply chain. There are some simple ideas for making your warehouse more eco-friendly – our top 5 are:
Your Perfect Warehouse
By keeping in mind all these factors, and carefully planning your design alongside data and figures calculated for use, storage and requirements, your design will be well underway.
There are many companies offering data analysis software to aid design – if you are spending a lot on your warehouse, or have very complicated or changing processes, it may be worth considering this to utilise the space fully.
The main thing to remember is to build flexibility into your design so any future changes can be accommodated. Although all warehouses are different, by being logical and using common sense alongside a good understanding of your business requirements, you will succeed.
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