Every warehouse manager wants to get the most out of their warehouse space. This doesn’t just mean packing the most stuff into the smallest space—it means making warehouse operations as efficient and safe as possible to minimize delays. The question is, how can you adjust your warehouse storage, equipment, and design to achieve improved overall performance?
To help you make the most out of your warehouse operations, here are a few tips to get you started.
1: Reorganize Products Based On Type
A key element of warehouse design is the organization of products within the warehouse. If a warehouse’s layout is messy or inconsistent, it will take longer for employees to find things and complete tasks—which creates delays for your warehouse operations that can put you behind schedule.
Organizing products by type and setting aside specific areas for each product category within your warehouse can make finding them much easier later on—saving time and labor.
2: Organize Neatly, But Also Logically
When you organize products, there should be an easy to understand and consistent logic behind the organization—such as sorting products within a category by their manufacturer or product name. Having your warehouse design done this way makes it easier to locate specific products when you need them.
Additionally, products should be stored neatly—meaning that there are no obstacles in the walkways where they could impede your employees. Leaving opened storage crates and other random pieces of warehouse equipment in walkways not only keeps people from doing their jobs, it also can pose a serious injury risk to your employees.
3: Earmark Your Unused Space for Future Reference
If some of the storage racks in your warehouse are going unused or underfilled, make a note of that space, and what items are near it in your planogram (floor/rack schematics). Using these notations of your used and unused space, you can plan around the arrival of new products in your warehouse—rearranging your storage so that new products can be slotted in with ease.
4: Nix the Excess Inventory
Not every product succeeds. There are many cases where a product might meet to fail its projected demand in a truly spectacular fashion—leaving literal tons of the product in your warehouse, occupying your available space. The space spent on excessive amounts of failed inventory could be better spent on higher-volume items that should have a higher priority.
Eliminating excess inventory helps you make more efficient use of your warehouse storage space. This, in turn, helps you save money by not having to hold unnecessary stock while improving profitability by allowing you to stock items that move.
5: Consider Relocating Frequently-Used Items
If you have a product in your warehouse that moves significantly faster than others, consider rearranging that item to a more convenient location where it’s easier to access and move than other products. This will help your team access that product more easily when they need it, helping to improve efficiency in your warehouse.
6: Minimize Aisle Widths to Maximize Space for Storage Racks
Consider moving your storage racks closer together to make your aisles as narrow as possible to increase the total amount of storage space of your warehouse. However, it’s important to be careful when minimizing aisle widths, as it is possible to make your aisles too narrow and create other issues.
For example, as pointed out on the OSHA website’s page on narrow aisles, “Conventional rack storage systems were designed for the counterbalanced lift truck which requires about a 12 ft (144 in) aisle width.” If you make your aisles too narrow for your forklifts, it could increase risk of injury to employees or damage to your warehouse equipment.
7: Take Advantage of Your Warehouse’s Vertical Space
If your warehouse is running out of space to add more racks to the left or right, consider expanding upward if you have the room. Making use of your warehouse’s vertical space by adding taller storage racks with more levels can be an easy way to increase your total warehouse storage capacity.
However, it is very important that you double-check any stacking restrictions for products being stored above a certain height—this includes OSHA restrictions, storage rack manufacturer’s restrictions, and any limits of your lift trucks for vertical height. Also, try not to store maximum-weight pallets at the extreme upper limit of your forklift’s lifting height, as it can cause a forklift to become unbalanced and fall.
8: Rearrange Products in Individual Containers When Possible
You can save some room for more warehouse equipment and storage solutions by making the most efficient use of each container in the warehouse whenever possible. Measuring product dimensions and the available interior space of your containers can allow you to plan for the most efficient use of space in each container.
This helps you use fewer containers for more products, maximizing available space.
Also, be sure to confirm that products are in their appropriate containers so that, in addition to saving space, you can save time when it comes to finding your inventory later.
9: Stick to One Method of Organization
There are two primary methods of organizing your warehouse’s contents:
- Random Organization. In this method, you’re stuffing products wherever they fit. While this can help you make very efficient use of your available space, it can be a nightmare for warehouse employees to locate specific products in, since there’s no rhyme or reason to your warehouse design beyond: “it fits there, so that’s where it’ll stay.”
- Fixed Organization. In this method, you’ve created (or borrowed) some kind of organization system that is consistently applied to your entire warehouse inventory. While this can create some wasted space, it also makes it much easier to retrieve products since employees will know where to look for them.
For those warehouse managers who want to maximize available space, random organization can work, but the potential impact to the efficiency of operations should be carefully considered before adopting such a haphazard warehouse storage system. Fixed organization, while it wastes some space, makes operations much more efficient.
Need help making the most out of your warehouse space? Contact the experts here at Southern States Enterprises for a quick warehouse design consultation. We’ll help you pick out the best warehouse storage & handling solutions, optimize your floor plan, and provide tips on maximizing space in your warehouse.