3 Instances When It’s Time to Improve Your Warehouse Layout Optimization


warehouse layout optimizationAccording to Inc., revamping an office environment is more than just a brand new, shiny space; it has boosted company morale.[1] VerticalResponse, an e-mail marketing company, had outgrowth their old facilities, having 90 employees. Because of this growth, the company ended up being split on two separate floors.

While you may think this is not a problem, it is anything but. Meetings alone with the company were nearly impossible, according to Inc. and, because of the physical separation, employees were not able to see each other on an everyday basis—even with quarterly company events. This changed when VerticalResponse moved into a new (larger) building where all employees work on one floor.

While this is great for VerticalResponse, how do you know when it is time to either improve your current office or warehouse layout optimization or move to a larger facility. In this article, we will give you # instance when it is time to do so. Perhaps one of these will resonate with you.

1. Not Enough Space

Chris had been running his business for about 4 years. While initially he had made an effort to leave some space to accommodate for future business growth, over time he needed to room to store the surplus of product that had accumulated.

Now product was even spilling out in the aisles, causing a fire hazard and going against OSHA protocol. He needed to fix this problem as soon as possible, as he did not want to have a dangerous working environment for his employees. Chris was debating on whether he should move to a larger facility or up his warehouse layout optimization.

What Should He Do?

There are a number of factors that determine if moving is the right choice for Chris and his business.

Installing a Mezzanine Office

For one, does Chris already have a mezzanine office? If not, it may be beneficial to install one to provide more storage space in the mezzanine office and free up ground space below.

Making the Most Out of Your Aisles

Also, is Chris making the most of his aisles? Perhaps one of the reasons why so much of his product has accumulated has to do with slower loading times. Ideally, Chris’ fastest-shipping products should be located closest to the loading dock.

The rest of his product should then be stored from fastest to slowest, with the slowest being furthest away. This is especially important if Chris is using a PTG system, where retrieval is dependent on employees’ travel times. (To learn more about the difference of PTG versus GTP systems, read “What is The Right Order Fulfillment Solution for Your Warehouse Layout Design? Answer These Questions.”

If Chris has organized his product from fastest- to slowest-moving, and already has a mezzanine office installed, it may be best for Chris to move to a larger facility. That way, he can have the more space to store the product that is impeding aisles and also free up space for future business growth.

2. Not Making Numbers During Peak Seasons

Ricardo is a veteran business owner, having ran his successful business for well over 15 years. He can normally gauge how much product he will sell during peak seasons for his company. However, over the last 3 years, his business has not been able to meet its numbers.

The economic climate has not fluctuated drastically and sales has continued to bring in new leads and first-time buyers. Why isn’t it then able to product as much revenue as it has in previous years during peak periods?

What Should He Do?

Assuming sales and other departments are doing well, perhaps Ricardo needs to assess the type of order fulfillment system he uses in his warehouse?

Needing a PTG Instead of a GTP System

If he has been using a GTP system, perhaps there is overlap between if and when the system has been failing and the time of year.

Since GTP systems tend to be fairly automatic and technology-oriented, even having a downtime of 1% would mean Ricardo would not be able to operate his warehouse at full capacity for roughly 3 days.

In doing so, product would not be able to ship out and get to the customers on time, which could then affect customer turnover. That said, one of these three days could be during peak season, which would mean even more sales could be lost.

If this is the case, Ricardo may benefit from analyzing how many peak seasons his company has per year. If the number is less than three, it may actually be better for Ricardo to use a GTP system instead and hire more warehouse employees when the season gets busy.

Determine the Right Picking Technique for Your Business Operation

Also, what type of picking technique is Ricardo’s employees using? If the answer is none, this could be another reason why slowing times are slow and customer turnover has increased.

Ricardo may want to assess which technique would suit his warehouse and contribute to his warehouse optimization layout. If he has a small business, he probably could get away with using batch picking. However, if his facility is larger, wave or zone picking.

(To learn more about different type of picking techniques, be sure to check out “How to Improve Warehouse Operations with the Right Picking Technique.”)

3. Unhappy Employees  

Sharon has been running her business for 7 years. She has had a positive work environment…until now. Lately, warehouse employees have been needing to take a couple of days, if not weeks off, because of injury on the job.

She is happy to accommodate; however, she wants to know how she can improve warehouse conditions, cut down on employment injury, and prevent employee turnover from increasing.

What Should She Do?

Assuming employees are unhappy because of the physical demands of the work environment, there are a number of possibilities that could solve this problem and improve warehouse layout optimization.

Install an Inplant Modular Office

Perhaps Sharon needs to install an inplant moular office in her warehouse so that warehouse managers can oversee employees. Not only does this help decrease micromanaging but can allow warehouse managers to better see employees. They can then easily assist employees who may be retrieving the product improperly.

Improve Retrieval Methods

Perhaps employees are unnecessarily leaning and reaching when retrieving product. This may be solved by using retrieval vehicles and/or equipment instead. If the aisles are 12 inches wide, a standard sit-down truck may help. If aisles are narrower, turret trucks may do the trick.

As for retrieval equipment, material lifts may work. Plus, they don’t pose nearly as much of a safety risk for employees as forklifts. And, since they are not powered by gas or electricity, they are low maintenance.

Warehouse Layout Optimization: Final Thoughts

Your warehouse layout could be improved in a number of ways before considering moving to a larger warehouse space. If you are on the fence whether you should move or optimize your current space, consider seeking out a professional who can analyze your warehouse and give you tips to increase space and maximize efficiency.

How have you optimized your warehouse space? Did you end up making some changes to increase your current space or decide to move? Please feel free to comment in the comments section below.

Warehouse Layout Optimization: Summary

  • If you don’t have that much space due to growth, you may want to consider installing a mezzanine office, which will help free up space below
  • You could also organize your warehouse according to the 80/20 rule: 20% of your fastest-moving product closest to the loading dock while the rest of the product being placed closer towards the back, away from the loading dock
  • Consider assessing your order fulfillment system to see if you could benefit from changing it
  • In general, if you have less than three peak seasons, you may benefit from using a PTG system—especially if you have continuous system failures which prevent you from accessing your product
  • Also, look at the picking technique you are currently using: batch, zone, or wave
  • If you have a smaller warehouse, you could get away with having your employees use batch picking
  • For larger facilities zone or wave picking may be the better options
  • Employees unhappy about their work could lead to a high employee turnover
  • To prevent this from happening, perhaps install an inplant modular office so that managers can easily oversee the workers
  • Also, consider using retrieval equipment and vehicles to reduce employee strain
  • Then again, you may benefit from moving to a larger facility
  • To see if this is the case, consider hiring a professional to assess and analyze your current facility and see if you could improve warehouse layout optimization

Contact Specialized Storage Solutions to learn how you can increase space, maximize efficiency, and improve profitability. Also, be sure to check out our blog for information and resources concerning the storage industry.

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[1] Inc.: How a Revamped Office environment Can Boost Company Morale