Storage Design

Many warehouses face constantly changing demands yet few have the flexibility to accommodate them without loss of efficiency. A frequent weakness is the design of the warehouse itself, i.e. the layout and the types of storage and methods of handling that are available. In most cases warehouse managers just put up with it and continue to operate the best they can. If the company demands that goods are shipped, then a way will be found of shipping them even if it means taking on extra personnel or putting stock into outside storage. Yet often these situations can be avoided by a few relatively low cost actions.

For example, one can look at the reasons for holding stock – how much of it is old, out-of date or obsolete, can it be shipped direct from supplier, can it be cross-docked, can delivery into the warehouse be delayed, can the purchasing profile be changed, can we load direct to carrier’s vehicle etc.

Once these opportunities have been exhausted, it is necessary to look at the stock profile. This requires numerical analysis of the stock by handling characteristic and quantity and will lead to recommendations on appropriate storage types and quantities to match the particular stock profile. The recommended storage can then be compared with what is already installed and changes made.

Once the storage media have been reviewed one can decide the best disposition of stock in the warehouse. This requires analysis of throughputs and will typically result in the fast moving products being located close to Goods Out whereas slow movers will be further away. Other factors such as family groups and stacking characteristics may also be taken into account.

A parallel approach can be to identify inefficient methods of working, e.g. mixed stock in locations, excess travel distances, pallets being lowered from high level in order to pick a few cases, two person picking, operatives engaged in unproductive activities etc. It is the savings from reducing or eliminating these that will generate the gains in productivity.

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