An effective warehouse layout is one that is optimized for the workflows needed to fulfill orders. In the search for greater warehouse efficiency, many companies are reviewing their layouts to identify potential improvements that can be made. Changes in a warehouse layout can often lead to greater productivity, increased storage space, and improved picking accuracy.
An inventory management system can be managed by understanding the warehouse space, inventory needs, and how the layout can be divided into functional areas. In this post, we’ll review some important organizational tips for how to choose a warehouse layout and optimize it based on the needs of the specific site. As with all improvement projects, it is always a good idea to solicit ideas from warehouse staff and work together to design an ideal warehouse layout.
A warehouse design is comprised of many unique elements that are present on the facility floor. Some of these are components of the building, such as doors and support columns, that are generally stationary and cannot be moved. Other items such as doors, office areas, and equipment can sometimes be relocated to facilitate a better product flow. In order to optimize a warehouse layout, it’s also important to clarify locations for the following essential areas:
As orders are fulfilled, your warehouse staff will need to access these areas and move between them in order to perform their work duties. The ideal layout will help create a smooth transition between these activities.
An optimal warehouse layout should address the needs of the following workflows. By mapping out the movements and activities associated with each one it will be possible to choose a particular layout that works best:
The movement of items through each of these workflows will require movement via automated equipment such as conveyor belts, personnel, or forklifts. With the key steps, movements, and warehouse resources identified, they can then be compared to a variety of potential layouts.
A large portion of the usable warehouse space will be taken up by the storage system and travel paths for workers and forklifts. A storage system should be chosen based on the specific types of goods that the warehouse will support. There are 6 common storage systems found in today’s warehouses:
The placement of the storage system should complement the workflows defined above and make sure that products can flow smoothly through each step from receiving through shipping. If a warehouse is being designed from scratch, it’s important to address any structural changes first and then proceed with constructing the rest of the elements.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a warehouse layout should never be considered truly static, and the design may be adjusted to accommodate new requirements or identified improvements. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when designing a warehouse layout is failing to correct issues that impede the flow of items through the facility. The ideal layout will be unique to each location and should factor in some important customizations. A few common areas of improvement are:
There may not be a single warehouse layout that works for all facilities, but there most certainly is an optimal layout that is best for your location. Choosing an ideal layout requires careful consideration of the warehouse elements, workflows, and storage areas. With proper planning and a commitment to continuous improvement, it is possible to design and optimize a warehouse layout that adds significant value to the operation.