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The 4 Phases of Warehouse Design

A good warehouse layout can drastically improve the functionality and productivity of a warehouse. While the needs of every business are unique, and therefore require unique solutions, the need for an optimized and efficient warehouse is universal.

In this article, we will discuss the necessary steps for planning and executing the best warehouse layout. For quotes on industrial and warehouse workbenches, packing stations, and floor plan design solutions, contact us at 866-612-7312.

1. Planning the Project

The first step in creating an amazing warehouse layout is the planning process. Because of the physical limitations of some warehouses, a good plan will help ensure that everything finds its place.

In order to create the best possible warehouse layout, there are several key factors to consider:

Space usage

Regardless of the size or shape of your warehouse, it is a good idea to analyze your warehouse carefully and take measurements so that you can make the most out of all its space.

Efficient handling of goods

Along with efficient usage of the space, you should design your warehouse with your goods in mind. How you will handle the movement of goods in your warehouse is an important thing to consider.

Storage access

Storage accessibility is key for your warehouse crew. Designing with storage in mind will save you frustration later down the line and ensure everyone has access to the tools they need.

Flexible shelving

While designated bins and shelving for specific products may be useful for companies with limited inventory, most will benefit from creating flexible storage options. Flexibility will allow for faster rotation ratios, expansion of inventory, and rotation of products without needing to reconfigure your entire warehouse.

Volume

Finally, it is very important to consider the volume of products your warehouse will need to store. Creating too little storage will result in messy, unorganized work.

Creating too much storage will encourage clutter, slower rotation, and an excess of product. A careful balance is required to ensure your warehouse stays organized and streamlined.

2. Creating the Layout

Each area of your warehouse will need to be clearly defined, and optimized in order to meet the criteria mentioned above. Your design will determine workplace workflow, run times, how a product is brought in and brought out of your facility, and much more.

The following areas will require your careful consideration and specific design:

Loading and Unloading

Loading and unloading areas are required for warehouses to receive products from distributors. Loading areas should be accessible by truck and be directly attached to the facility or separate from the warehouse itself.

Docks are a popular option for loading and unloading product from truck to warehouse, and can come in many different forms. Docks with an intermediate platform offer environmental control for products that need specific temperatures.

Flush docks allow deliveries to be made as close to the warehouse as possible.

You should also consider height when creating a loading or unloading zone. For companies that receive shipments from third party suppliers, you should expect a wide range of height requirements.

Conveyors or ramps are another option for receiving deliveries. Products arriving on pallets, heavy products, or otherwise difficult to move products can be more easily transported with the use of entrance ramps or conveyor belts.

Conveyor belts and automated loading and unloading mechanisms can be particularly helpful for companies handling a large volume of merchandise, as they speed up the process of unloading and loading trucks.

Receiving area

Your receiving area will not only serve as a landing spot for new items but also as quality control and sorting area; therefore, your receiving area must be large enough to accommodate multiple deliveries, and large enough to sort and separate products.

The receiving area will also be where you sort and separate products for proper placement on the warehouse floor. It will be where you split pallets and label products for their correct location in bins and on shelves.

Receiving will also be where most products enter your electronic system. Creating space for RFID readers, label makers, and inventory tracking systems in your receiving area will help your team more efficiently sort and store new arrivals.

Storage

Your storage area will serve only as a space for the organization and storage of goods. Goods can be stored in a variety of ways depending on the shape, size, and nature of the goods in question.

Your storage area will need to accommodate both product volume and storage units. Storing your goods in stacks involves the stacking of units on top of one another.

Most commonly, this method of storage involves nothing in between individual units, meaning they will be touching at all times. The stacking method of warehouse storage is favored by companies dealing in boxed goods, flat or paper goods, and stronger materials.

Goods packaged in particularly rigid packaging, or goods with internal strength like concrete or feed can easily be stored using the stacking method. This method also has the distinct advantage of making the best use of your space.

With no need for shelving or storage units, the stacking method allows you to stack as high and wide as need be, only limited by the strength and needs of your products. The disadvantage of the stacking method of storage involves access to products.

Particular units can only be accessed by removing all units stacked on top of it. Depending on the nature of the product, this may not be an issue, but many companies find that the limited access afforded to them by stacking can reduce efficiency.

Racking

Racking and shelving units are the best options for companies dealing with units that do not have significant internal integrity or package rigidity. Storage racks are typically metal structures, designed for easy access and cleaning.

Racks can be customized to suit the needs of individual warehouses, with a variety of shelf sizes, compartments, slots, and bins available for products of every size and shape. Racking is one of the best options for companies looking for flexibility and a high rotation rate.

Racks can be more comprehensively organized than stacks, and even offer permanent homes for particular products. Companies with a large variety of products or with a high rotation rate will generally benefit from a racking system in their warehouse.

Picking

A picking area is required only by warehouses whose products may need reconfiguration, modification, or other kinds of personalized attention prior to shipment. For companies requiring a picking and order preparation area, there are several options.

Picking areas can be separate or included in storage areas, depending on the size and needs of your warehouse. Automated and semi-automated picking systems can easily be integrated into your existing warehouse configuration, and package preparation areas can either be combined or created separately from this space.

Dispatch

A dispatch area can be combined with a picking area. While some companies may not require extensive packing and sorting prior to dispatch, others will need an area in which to consolidate products from a variety of locations.

In some cases, dispatch can be combined with reception, offering a single location for both receiving and sending products from the facility.

Non-Warehouse spaces

Along with your warehouse design, you will need to consider the rest of your facility in relation to the warehouse. Offices, bathrooms, changing rooms, break areas, employee storage and more will need to be taken into consideration during the design process.

3. Implementing the Plan

Once you have designed your warehouse, you can begin the implementation process. Your design will inform how your warehouse is laid out, but it will be how you approach the process that informs the end result.

Timing

Many companies struggle to find a time that would be best to implement a warehouse design plan, as the need for constant movement in and out of the facility is often tied to the success of the business. For the best results, try planning the implementation of your warehouse design plan for a time when there is as little activity as possible.

Ideally, you would be able to shut down the facilities entirely. Smaller operations most often can find time to shut down their facilities, often opting for a weekend or holiday to complete the implementation.

If a full shutdown is not possible, consider finding additional space and resources for the continuation of the business. Borrowed facilities or makeshift facilities for continued receiving and shipping of products may be required.

Furniture

One thing worth considering as you craft your warehouse design is your furniture. Your warehouse furniture layout will require meticulous care.

Warehouse furniture should be selected with the needs of the workers and products in mind. At OnePoint Solutions we create custom furniture for companies spanning many different industries.

We manufacture, design, and install custom cabinets, storage, drawers, packing stations, shelving, and much more. With the option to create shelving with custom slots and spaces for units of every shape and size, we can create the perfect storage options for any warehouse needs.

We also offer many colors, materials, and finishes to choose from. Stainless steel and chemical/solvent retardant finishes offer improved safety for warehouse staff and product integrity.

With shelving units and packing stations that can be reconfigured to fit any space, the options are endless for a perfectly designed warehouse furniture layout.

4. Upkeep

Once your warehouse implementation has completed, all that is left is to maintain the organization of your warehouse space. To achieve this, you should come up with a concrete organization plan.

For example, you could come up with specific cleanup schedules for different parts of the warehouse. Remember that every item in your warehouse should be accounted for and stored with efficient workflow in mind.

Your entire team should come together to ensure order and cleanliness. Errors or changes in an organization can lead to picking issues, lost items, excess ordering, and disrupted warehouse flow.

Changes to organizational tactics can also create issues among your employees. The best method for maintaining order and organization is to create a system of regular checks by your team.

By building these checks into the workday or work week, you can rest assured that regular oversight of your warehouse will keep it organized. These checks should include oversight of the entire facility, including furniture placement and condition, inventory levels, item placement, operational problems, and potential necessary changes to create an even more efficient warehouse environment.

Let Us Be Your Warehouse Design Partner

Do you need to renovate or design your new production facility? The industrial design specialists at OnePointe Solutions can provide you with a quote on any size job.

We’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies and small family business’ to create custom tailored industrial furniture solutions.  Contact us by calling 866-612-7312 and see how we can help you create custom furniture for your company, classroom, research facility, or lab.

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