One of your responsibilities as a business owner is to design your warehouse layout. This can be complicated since you must consider several factors when developing a suitable design. For instance, your facility must make the most of the space available. It’s the only way for your operations to run smoothly, increase efficiency, and optimize your supply chain.
Let’s see what a good warehouse storage layout design should involve.
- Step-by-Step for Designing your Warehouse Layout
- What to Consider when Designing your Warehouse Layout
- Top Hacks and Tips for a Successful Warehouse
- Top 5 Machinery for Your Warehouse
- Top 5 Mobile Computer Scanners for Your Warehouse
- Talk to a Warehousing Expert
Step-by-Step for Designing Your Warehouse Layout
Take the following steps to streamline your warehouse design:
- Plan your location
- Draw a map
- Analyze the processes involved
- Determine the necessary equipment
- Go through your inventory
- Test and collect feedback
Plan Your Location
The main thing you need to do when creating your warehouse layout is to consider the location. If you can find a suitable place for your facility, you’ll be able to optimize the tasks inside more efficiently.
Before creating a layout, you need to analyze several critical factors:
- Moisture levels
- Any presence of ravines or clay soil
- Soil permeability
Even if any of these are too high, they might not jeopardize your operations immediately. However, leaving them unchecked is ill-advised since they can damage your products and cause significant financial losses in the long run.
Furthermore, don’t forget to choose the site for your warehouse carefully. There are several ways to pick the right spot.
For example, suppose your clients are scattered across a large territory. In that case, your warehouse should be close to your customers to improve delivery times and lower costs.
Additionally, other aspects of your facility can influence some of your processes. Bad piping and deteriorating walls can wreak havoc on your inventory, so avoid warehouses with these issues. If certain repairs are necessary, perform them as soon as possible to minimize downtime and start serving your customers promptly.
Draw a Map
Once you have a rough idea of your warehouse system design and find the ideal site for your new facility, it’s time to design a warehouse blueprint. Many people do this manually, but this approach is time-consuming and prone to error. A much better alternative is to incorporate layout software that provides ready-made templates, allowing you to visualize your facility more easily.
Another option is to recruit design experts. If you take this route, make sure your professionals have enough experience in your industry. This way, they’re more likely to develop a layout that suits your specifications perfectly. More importantly, it helps ensure they don’t take any shortcuts when taking measurements and putting them on paper.
Regardless of the method, your map should contain the following elements:
- Labels of different areas
- Workflow directions
- Flow of products and shipments
- Walking paths
- Operation areas
- Space measurements (e.g., height and length of all spaces)
Mapping this out lets you make any necessary changes before the project starts. It lets you organize your warehouse faster and helps you stay within your budget limits.
Analyze the Processes Involved
Another thing you should do during the planning stage is to determine whether your processes are viable. Otherwise, you won’t be able to detect problems after the start of the project, which could be an enormous setback.
A great way to analyze your processes is to break down your supply chain. Divide it into your procedures to figure out their viability when separated from other processes. This way, you’ll be able to see if there are incompatible activities that could hurt your operations once your warehouse is ready. You also get to learn how to streamline problematic activities so they no longer create friction.
Determine the Necessary Equipment
You can use your warehouse for an array of purposes. Regardless of the purpose, you need certain equipment to carry out your operations. There are numerous machines you can choose from, and it could be tempting to buy as many devices as possible. That said, you may not have enough space to fit all your equipment.
Even if you have space restrictions, some tools are a must-have. For example, pallet jacks are paramount for any warehouse owner. This essential equipment works great for transporting different types of cargo throughout your facility. You can select from two kinds of jacks: electric and manual models. The former is usually more expensive, but it allows for smoother operations and saves time.
The other machine you want to buy for your warehouse is a forklift. Many business owners use them outdoors, but they excel in indoor settings, such as warehouses. You can transport bulky items with this equipment, so your workers don’t have to risk hurting themselves.
Overall, your warehouse storage layout design should tell you how much space you need for your machines.
Go Through Your Inventory
Your inventory is one of the most important aspects of your business. If you have abundant stock, you can provide your customers with products consistently. Plus, it reduces delivery times, which increases client satisfaction.
However, the only way to have enough items in your stock is to have a suitable warehouse. You need to have a facility that can store your products safely.
When developing your storage plan, you should consider the following factors regarding your inventory:
- How much time do you need to sort your products?
- How long does it take for your products to arrive at your warehouse after ordering them from your suppliers?
- What technology do you use in your stock?
- How cyclical is your demand?
- How long does it take you to process orders?
- How many items do you want to store in your warehouse?
- Are any products obsolete or past their expiry date?
Test and Collect Feedback
At this point, you should have everything you need to set your warehouse system design in motion. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t launch the works before testing your plan:
- Measure your layout.
- Set up test perimeters.
- Walk around the perimeter to see if the warehouse space is viable.
It’s an efficient testing method, and it doesn’t require you to repeat the process in every area. Instead, you should be able to get away with analyzing high-traffic zones, which are usually the most important parts of your warehouse.
While testing your layout, make sure to use forklifts, jacks, and other equipment you’ll employ once the warehouse is operable. Everything should move smoothly without running into obstacles or requiring manual labor from your employees.
Finally, record your results and ask the test participants for feedback. If you or your employees identify any weaknesses, go back to the drawing board.
What to Consider When Designing Your Warehouse Layout
A comprehensive warehouse design should take the following factors into account:
- The products your warehouse will hold
- The location of the facility
- The amount of space and equipment available
- The circulation and rotation of your goods
- The staff that operates the warehouse
- The organization and budget
Top Hacks and Tips for a Successful Warehouse
You can take your warehouse system design planning to another level with these tips:
Optimize the Space Available
The space available in the warehouse plays a pivotal role in the layout. You shouldn’t just plan for your products. You should also develop your layout so that it fits your equipment and allows for seamless workflow areas.
A great tip in this respect is to rely on your vertical space. Stacking products vertically rather than horizontally maximizes storage capacity and enables you to add more goods or equipment.
Separate Your Loading and Unloading Zones
If your loading and unloading regions aren’t integrated into the warehouse, you can separate them. This enables you to add a convenient docking point where your trucks can easily park and unload products inside your building.
Separate Your Reception Area
You receive your products at your reception area. It’s also where you sort your products. The zone should be separate from other parts of the facility, as you need to check and review all the items that arrive at your warehouse.
Furthermore, try to make your reception point as large as possible. You need ample space for precise inspection and to lower the possibility of bottlenecks.
Leverage Proper Organization Practices
Organizing your storage is pivotal to an effective warehouse layout. For instance, you could separate your storage into static and dynamic regions. Static areas are used for goods that are stored for weeks or months before you ship them out. By contrast, dynamic points feature popular products that only stay in your facility for a few days (or hours).
Separate the Picking Area
Not every warehouse comes with an independent picking area. Nevertheless, you may need to separate this zone if you have a shipping warehouse. This is where you perform your order preparation, and separating the region lowers the time you need to find certain items.
Streamline Your Packing and Shipping
The packing and shipping zone is where all your incoming and outgoing preparation takes place. This is the last part of your warehouse your products go to before you ship them to your customers. Keep the most popular goods near this area, so you can save time.
Use a U-shaped Design If Appropriate
U-shaped designs are the most versatile design options, as they can accommodate practically any kind of warehouse. The layout is straightforward, and you can apply it in any environment. These facilities are known for their semi-circle forms, hence the name ‘U-shaped designs’.
If you opt for this solution, put your shipping and loading zones near each other. Your reception (staging) area should be placed behind the loading region, and your shipping zone should go in front of your picking area.
Add a Mezzanine
If you run out of vertical space, you may need to add another floor to expand your capacity. An excellent way to do so is to install a mezzanine floor.
Incorporate the Right Type of Racking
Several factors determine the right kind of racking you need in your warehouse, including the structure and size of the facility. Adding an improper racking mechanism can reduce the efficiency of your warehouse and increase the need for re-fitting.
Your racking should also accommodate the size, shape, and weight of the items stored in the warehouse. You can add purpose-built solutions to hold consistent stock, whereas variable stock requires flexible options.
Shorten Your Aisles
Warehouses with endless racks are impressive, but you may not need them. If your employees take too long to find products due to long aisles, shorten them. You could also create cross aisles to expedite the search for goods.
Top 5 Machinery for Your Warehouse
We’ve already mentioned two essential machines you need in your warehouse. Here’s a more comprehensive overview of all the equipment you should incorporate into your facility:
- Dock equipment – dock plates and boards, levelers, truck restraints, dock bumpers, dock shelters and seals, yard ramps
- Conveyors – belt, plastic-belt, flexible, or gravity-roller conveyors
- Storage equipment – shelves, racks, bins, and carousels
- Lifting machines – forklifts, pallet jacks, service carts, hand trucks
- Packing equipment – stretch wrap machine, industrial scales, banding and strapping tools
Top 5 Mobile Computer Scanners for Your Warehouse
Another important tool you want to add to your warehouse is a computer scanner. There are countless devices to choose from, but the following five gadgets outperform the rest:
- Zebra Technologies RS6100 Bluetooth Wearable Scanner
- Zebra Technologies TC73 Mobile Computer
- Honeywell CT60
- DT Research DT362GL Rugged Handheld Computer Scanner
- DT Research DT301Y 10-Inch Tablet
Before you buy your equipment, be sure to contact Energy Electronics. We can help you plan out your warehousing tech to maximize the compatibility and efficiency of your devices.
Receiving Area Layout Advice
The above tips can help you improve your warehouse system design. Nonetheless, getting your layout right the first time around is imperative to staying ahead of your competition and delivering products on time. That’s why you want to receive area layout advice from an industry expert.
Talk to a Warehousing Consultant
Energy Electronics is the leading warehousing consultant available. We can help you optimize your warehouse design with tried-and-true methods and professional guidance. Reach out to our consultants, and we’ll go out of our way to develop a suitable solution for your business needs.