It takes a great number of resources, planning, and experience to design a streamlined warehouse. Adept warehouse managers must make use of the industry’s most cutting-edge solutions, such as barcode labels to efficiently track inventory, warehouse management systems to add powerful end-to-end visibility, and the latest and greatest in warehouse automation to rev up output. Having said that, one of the most meaningful warehouse tools isn’t necessarily of the hyper-modern variety. We’re talking about warehouse racking; while it’s a warehouse staple that’s been around for decades, designs continue to improve as companies develop innovative solutions to help warehouses maximize space utilization.
Warehouse racking systems come in a variety of options, many customizable, that are flexible enough to fit the needs of a growing warehouse. But, selecting a design that best suits an existing infrastructure can be a challenging task. These four common-sense tips will help you use smart warehouse racking designs to boost efficiency:
- Always protect your vertical space
- Don’t go through an infrastructure overhaul to fit a racking design
- Consider your product mix above all else
- Find a system that keeps your most important inventory visible and within an arm’s reach
Read on to get the full scoop on these warehouse racking design tips.
1. Always protect your vertical space
Protecting (and increasing) vertical warehouse storage space may be a common suggestion, but it’s a fundamental element in infrastructure design – because it works. There are several ways to execute this, no matter what type of warehouse racking you’re using. For example, adding mezzanine flooring to your existing racking system could create more floor-to-ceiling space and boost the accessibility of shelved inventory.
That said, mezzanine flooring does not complement all racking systems, and it can come with some potential risky code violations, too. Luckily, run-of-the-mill pallet racks can do the job just as well. As Material Handling & Logistics explains, pallet rack components can be fused with work platforms to create a completely customizable design element that can be configured for the ideal height and accessibility.
2. Don’t go through an infrastructure overhaul to fit a racking design
Of course, not all warehouse racking systems are tailor-made to fit your warehouse’s dimensions and/or processes, but that doesn’t mean that yours needs to undergo an extreme infrastructure revamp to introduce a new design.
The most popular racking systems, standard pallet racks, are often regarded as being “highly-flexible,” but many forget that these designs require pre-determined aisles to allow for forklift access. So, instead of selecting the most popular option, work with a racking company to customize a design that will support your warehouse as it is and as its operations scale.
3. Consider your product mix above all else
As mentioned, there should never be a “one-size-fits-all” option when it comes to warehouse racking designs. Alternatively, each and every racking system should be flexible enough to be at least partially customized to the facility’s inventory storage needs and processes.
Before you even think of selecting a specific racking system, you first must take a close look at all current and, preferably, future inventory that will be stored in the warehouse. As you complete this exercise, be sure to pay especially close attention to product specs and established warehouse procedures to ensure that you are landing on a system that supports your movements. Included in this could be SKU variation/placement and/or picking/handling techniques.
As an example, SKUs that experience an especially high amount of turnover might do better in a single-deep rack or any other form of shallow racking designs.
4. Find a system that keeps your most important inventory visible and within an arm’s reach
When it comes to inventory storage, all warehouse managers should have these must-haves written on their “desireds” list:
- visibility; and
- air flow/ventilation.
Without these three crucial elements, warehouse managers and associates alike could be left wasting valuable time accessing and looking for inventory, or even replacing damaged items.
To guarantee that this doesn’t happen in your warehouse, devise a racking design first and study all of the many racking systems types that are available to you. For example, if your facility has a somewhat established infrastructure and needs a racking system design that exploits your vertical space, consider a multi-tier racking system. This system fits especially well for warehouses that deal with large stocks of items that have small unit sizes. What’s great about this particular system is that it allows for easy accessibility and easy changes when inventory counts ebb and flow.
Warehouse racking design isn’t rocket science – just remember that the secret to boosting your warehouse’s efficiency through storage has more to do with flexibility than anything else. Don’t settle for the “one-size-fits-all” model; instead, design the solution that works best for your operation and only your operation. After finalizing your warehouse racking design, choosing the right warehouse rack labels will streamline your picking and inventory processes and further boost efficiency.