Warehouse designs and layouts. Do they really matter?
Of course they do!
Warehouse design mistakes can make or break your business faster than you could even imagine.
The key to generating a higher return on investment (ROI) is rooted in the foundations of your operation, better known as your blueprints, design, and basic functioning.
Establishing a well designed plan is your best bet at finding warehouse success, or success in anything for that matter.
Now let's apply that to warehouse design to fix or prevent mistakes that are sabotaging your ROI.
1. Picking Paths
One of the most important and fundamental, yet commonly overlooked parts of your warehouse is your picking strategy.
Designing efficient picking paths - i.e, spending less time, money, and energy moving through your warehouse to prepare an order is the lifeblood of your sucess.
But, don't take our word for it. In an Order-Picking Methods study by Dr. Goran Dukic of the Industrial Engineering Department at a Croatia University found that order picking often accounts for 55% of warehouse operating costs.
55%. Imagine cutting your picking times in half? That's a MASSIVE savings on time and labor costs.
If your picking paths are not designed for the most efficient use possible, you are likely experiencing problems with travel times through your warehouse, more use and potential danger on forklifts, and wasted labor costs.
Here are a few quick tips to optimize your picking paths and generate greater returns:
1. Store Commonly Purchased Items Together: Take a hard look at your current data. Sit down at the computer, and look at your purchase orders.
Notice any trends? What products are often purchased together?
Quickly you will notice that some purchases are often very similiar, giving you extremely valuable data for free.
So, you noticed that two products you carry are often purchased together. But, they are on opposite sides of the warehouse.
Yes, that's an issue.
Why is your employee traveling twice the distance on these commons orders than nessecary?
Stop wasting valuable time and labor costs. Reorganize and reap the rewards of cutting that the picking time in half.
2. Develop a Linear Path
The order in which you are picking MUST be linear. If you are finishing your picking run in the middle, back, or corner of your warehouse, you're costing yourself big time.
According to Dr. Dukic's study, 50% of picking time in warehouses is spent on traveling.
Stop wasting time and develop a path that makes linear sense.
Wherever you ultimately ship and load the picked items should be the end of your linear picking path.
This will dramatically cut down on time and money spent for each order.
2. Dock Optimization - Ship and Recieve
One of the biggest warehouse design mistakes we often see in our free pre-leasing analysis service is the failure to optimize your loading and unloading, or shipping and recieving docks.
Having the same space for shipping and recieving can cause a host of problems that could easily implode your business.
Shipping orders can easily be confused with incoming deliveries, posing a major threat to mixing up inventory and potentially losing or delaying valuable shipments.
Optimizing your dock space into seperate sections that are defined and planned properly will help you avoid warehouse delays.
From congested docks to shipping and recieving mixups, you need to avoid this warehouse design mistake at all costs.
3. Failing to go Vertical
Time and time again we've seen the age old complaint: "I don't have enough space for that."
But, you probably do.
Do me a favor, go out of your office into your warehouse and look up at the cieling. How much room is there between your racking system and the roof?
Probably a lot. Essentially, you are wasting valuable vertical space.
Southwest Solutions Group survey's found that traditional shelving only uses 50% of the available storage space in comparison to vertical shelving.
Learning how to utilize every inch of your warehouse will potentially save you from purchasing new space that you simply can't afford and probably don't need.
Warehouse design mistakes like this are killing your inventory opportunities, and ultimately, your ROI.
One of the best solutions to this issue is incorporating mezzanine storage systems. This amazing system can double or triple your storage capabilities and is relatively inexpensive.
We all too often see warehouses not utilizing every inch of their space, and vertically is the most common.
Incorporating more vertical storage can dramatically boost warehouse growth.
4. Signage = Safety = Efficiency
Not only does OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reccomend signage in their warehouse safety series, you can actually be fined for lack of signage that can lead to serious warehouse injuries.
Another common warehosue design mistake that we notice is a lack of signage.
Place signs near any of your hazards, or where vehicle and traffic crossings can happen in and around your warehouse.
Placing signage will dramatically reduce incidents around your racks, docks, forklifts and more, ultimately saving you time and money.
Additionally, we reccomend signage around your inventory to quickly and effortlessly identify different pieces of inventory, reducing potential mixups.
5. Not Planning For Growth
Sure, this may sound obvious, but many people don't implement strategies optimized for growth.
We tend to think in the now rather than the future.
Most people are leasing their warehouse space (by sq. ft) and therefore choose the space that perfectly accomodates their current needs, saving money upfront on wasted square footage.
For those who aren't leasing and own the warehouse space, they are still paying for that extra space in the form of insurance, heating or cooling, etc).
While initially it makes sense to skip the additional space and save some money, this strategy while appealing in the short term, can have devastating impact in the long run.
A solid warehousing bussines plan MUST take into consideration the next 5 to 10 years of market trends, market demand, inventory and techonological advancements.
How will changing markets impact my use of pallet racks? Fork lifts? Space? Will technology trends free up valuable space in my operation? If so, why am I wasting time and money by not upgrading now to truly utilize everything I can to generate better returns?
These are the questions you NEED to be asking yourself. If you don't, you're risking the potential livelihood of your business.
Setting up your warehouse for immediate growth, success, and stability is painful.
At first, plans click fast and start to gain traction, only to hit a brick wall, throwing your timeline off by weeks or months.
That's what were here for.
UMH offer’s a pre-leasing or buying analysis to prevent these common warehouse design mistakes before they happen.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s FREE?
Yes, we said free.
During our site visit and free analysis, we conduct 3D modeling of the warehouse to determine the best use of that space in terms of functionality, setup, layouts and design to maximize the potential usage and bring you the best ROI you can achieve.
Contact us today to get a FREE pre-leasing analysis and make sure that your warehouse design is free from business ending mistakes.