Are you running out of room trying to keep up with the current demand? Redesigning your warehouse layout is far more cost effective than looking for additional space.
Due to the current disruption created by COVID-19, and a sudden surge in goods during the lockdown due to panic buying, warehousing is set to reach breaking point in the next couple of weeks according to the UKWA’s latest survey of 100 UK warehousing and logistics operators. Do you need to look at redesigning your warehouse layout for additional space?
Goods deemed as non-essential are not selling as expected, whilst new inventory continues to arrive at UK ports. 90% of survey respondents confirmed that they were already totally full, suggesting that there is just 10% pallet space availability still left within UK warehouses.
As warehouses continue to fill up, companies are looking to third-party storage services to help with the overflow.
UKWA is estimating there is additional storage capacity of around 1.5 million pallet spaces available nationwide among 3PLs, which is likely to fill up in the next 2-3 weeks. The situation is becoming so critical, UKWA has set up a special COVID-19 Emergency Space Register on its website (UKWA.org.uk), so that available space can be identified and shared on a weekly basis.
By looking at redesigning your warehouse layout and by utilising a warehouse management system (WMS) to manage your warehouse operations, will enable up to 30% more inventory to be stored in the same space, whilst still being able to operate efficiently. This additional space is achieved by being able to store inventory in a more flexible way and having a means to improve general all round efficiencies.
Key areas to look at when redesigning your warehouse layout
1. Order Picking
Of all the activities in the warehouse, order picking should be the primary determinant of design. In any warehouse, but especially retail operations, more than half of labour hours can be spent on order picking and furthermore, half of those hours will be spent on pickers travelling between pick and pack locations.
Aside from the spatial considerations of locating stock and activities efficiently, the key driver for picking efficiency is selecting the right picking methodology. Many warehouses operate discrete order picking i.e. one picker picks a single order. However, for higher volume operations there are other alternatives which may reduce the distance travelled and consequently order cycle times and labour hours.
These include zone allocation, where the picker is allocated to a zone in the warehouse and picks order lines of SKUs located in that zone only, and batch picking where a single picker picks multiple orders at the same time. Further variations also exist, such as wave picking and cluster picking. Whichever option you choose, the primary objective should be to reduce picking time.
2. Warehouse Management Systems
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is crucial in any modern warehouse environment. Paper pick lists and stock location held on spreadsheets just don’t provide a platform for the efficiency needed to meet growing customer demands on order accuracy and speed of delivery.
The benefits of having the perfect warehouse layout design, with an optimally selected picking methodology, will be compromised on implementation without a fit-for-purpose Warehouse Management System (WMS). A WMS can assist you in redesigning your warehouse layout.
3. Operating Space
There is an increasingly limited stock of warehousing in the UK. The planning timelines are constraining the rate at which new builds are coming to the market, and that constrained rate is well behind the demand rate. This is driving both lease and purchase prices up and means companies need to get ever more inventive with the space they already have.
Slow-moving products, bulk products, and even SKUs for picking can be held at height in racking provided you have the right manual handling equipment for retrieval. Further to this, mezzanine floors can be a very good option for fast-moving pick and pack operations with simple gravity conveyors taking the orders to ground level for despatch.
4. Traffic Flow
This may sound like an obvious focus for warehouse design, but it is regularly overlooked or compromised in favour of maximising a building’s square footage. The traffic flow around the site is critical for getting material through receipt and into location and ready to sell as quickly as possible.
You must ensure that the exterior layout and traffic flow is sufficient to receive, offload, and despatch goods in the quickest turnaround times possible. Efficient traffic flow starts with incorporating the right number of bays into the warehouse layout and the right configuration of bays. Depending on the type of operation, there should be a mix of level access bays and dock-level bays.
Most of the time warehouse design is taken for granted and neglected in terms of investment and consideration with the overall supply chain strategy. However, it is the warehousing operation within most businesses that is a key factor in either the success or failure of the supply chain. So make sure you look at redesigning your warehouse layout.
Good warehouse management and ameans that the necessary stock is available; the warehouse provides the best possible service, has a high level of occupancy and optimises internal operation times, among many other things. Companies are also increasingly geared towards professional facilities using warehouse management software (WMS) to ensure the control of all these processes.
- Be designed based on current and future needs.
- Maximise utilisation of space while providing adequate circulation paths for personnel and material handling equipment such as forklift trucks.
- Use higher bays to take advantage of height allowances in the space.
- Optimise layout and configuration for the warehouse operation, including efficient circulation and material handling and storage processes.
- Utilise latest technology like WMS solutions
- Relate interior and exterior receiving and shipping operations to the process flow of goods through the warehouse.
- Receiving and shipping are best separated to avoid congestion at the loading dock areas in the building, and in the truck manoeuvring areas.
- Alternative material handling methods will determine other building aspects, such as aisle widths, lighting design, need for mezzanine space, fire protection, and egress design. Businesses will often use different methods of storage handling simultaneously for different products.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale/retail distribution, online fulfillment, and manufacturing warehousing.