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How to Choose a Warehouse Racking System

Warehouse racking system

A great deal of thought goes into building a warehouse. Companies need to determine the facility’s type, size, and location. The warehouse racking system may be overlooked during the evaluation but is vital for effective warehouse operations.  With the right system, a company maximizes inventory turn, reduces clutter, and improves productivity. 

Warehouses move thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions of items on a regular basis. Enterprises must be as efficient as possible in today’s highly competitive global marketplace. Racks are important elements in how well warehouses function. They come in a wide variety of customizable designs that meet different business needs. Picking the right one ensures that work flows optimally. Here are a few key considerations.

Consider the Product Mix

Every warehouse carries different materials, serves a unique customer set, and operates in a distinct manner. Therefore, warehouse design plays a key role in meeting business objectives. Companies have to reach the right balance of infrastructure, equipment, and inventory.  Racks are the foundation upon which optimal designs are built. 

The first consideration is the type of product stored. Some goods are delicate and require special handling, while others are more durable and can be housed in bulk. Certain items require set temperatures and racks that accommodate highs and lows; others are fine regardless of the environment. Some items are large, heavy, and need to be stacked carefully. Other inventory is small, light, and flexible, so a warehouse may require storage for pallets in various sizes or other containers.

Keep Inventory within an Arm’s Reach

Warehouse racks do not have a one-size-fits-all design. Picking the right system begins with understanding what the vendor’s current and future inventory will be. The proper rack empowers a company to move its inventory as quickly as possible. The racking must adjust to your storage requirements, rather than your racking system needing to adapt to your storage requirements.

Product flow is vital to the organization, and it rests on how easy items are to find and move: Flow encompasses inventory movement throughout the warehouse, from the receiving area to storage and finally to shipping. An efficient workflow minimizes handling and storage costs and ensures optimal space utilization.

Companies need to establish sound warehouse procedures to ensure that they maximize productivity and avoid unnecessary movement whenever possible. For instance, a comprehensive warehouse sign and labeling system makes it easy to quickly locate the proper areas within the warehouse, find the inventory location, and document inventory movement. These solutions include warehouse floor labels, hanging retro-reflective barcode labels, warehouse aisle signs, warehouse rack labels, and more.   

The frequency of product turnover plays an important role in the layout.  First, the company has to consider SKU variations and placement and then its picking and handling techniques. Do you carry high flow or low flow products? SKUs that experience an especially high amount of turnover do well in a single-deep rack or any other shallow racking system. Goods with a low turnover can be stored in a more remote location.

Finally, the layout of the warehouse itself will impact the product flow, so you need an understanding of the locations items are stored, their destination, and the optimal path through the facility. Consequently, the most efficient product flow varies from warehouse to warehouse. 

Manage Your Vertical Space

Maximizing vertical warehouse storage space is a common but challenging goal.  Pallet racks are a popular way to stack inventory. They can be fused with work platforms to create a completely customizable design, one configured for the ideal height and accessibility.

A multi-tier racking system is well-suited for warehouses that deal with large stocks of items that have small unit sizes. The system allows for easy accessibility and easy changes when inventory counts ebb and flow. Multi-level warehouse rack labels make it easy to scan from a distance to maximize vertical space utilization without sacrificing workflows such as warehouse picking and putaway.   

Adding mezzanine flooring to a racking system creates more floor-to-ceiling space and boosts the accessibility to shelved inventory. However, this option is not always available.

Finally, companies need to be aware of local building codes. In certain cases, they limit how high and in what manner a warehouse creates its racking system.

Plan for Expansion and Scalability

Every company wants to be successful, which means increasing its sales. So, plan with the understanding that the business eventually will increase its warehouse storage space. Modular racking solutions are expandible, easy to adjust, and support a number of different use cases. That said, developing a customized storage solution can eliminate (or reduce) the need for future expansion by accurately predicting storage needs to prevent overflow.

Rely on Experts

Rack design and layout is a specialized skill, one most companies lack.  It’s a good idea to gain insights from knowledgeable contractors like a warehouse labeling supplier, warehouse managers, employees, and even drivers. They have experience in warehouse facility operations and planning and can use it to help you understand the impact of your choices.

Warehouses are foundational elements for many companies’ operations. With competition increasing, they are looking for ways to improve their business processes. Racks are one of the largest and most important pieces of warehouse equipment. Consequently, corporations select the optimal warehouse racking system by understanding their product mix, making inventory accessible, planning for the future, and relying on experts.

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