Category: Warehouse Space

Innovative ideas to make your warehouse more efficient

Most businesses are always looking to be more efficient, but never more so than in the present day. A variety of difficult business conditions mean that warehouse and logistics operations are increasingly looking to save money and space. Oftentimes, the best way to do this is to invest in technological solutions – upgrading the infrastructure that your business relies on every day.

Some of the improvements that can be made to warehouse and logistics infrastructure are more familiar, while others are more on the cutting edge. From smarter shelving to roving robots to simply investing in your staff, here are five innovative ideas to make your warehouse space more efficient.

Smarter storage for your warehouse: While there are plenty of cutting-edge technologies you can apply to your warehouse, an equally effective solution is simply to reappraise your storage. A higher density form of pallet racking could easily increase your available storage space by more than half – or double the amount of floor space you have available for other tasks – giving you ample room to grow.

Employee training : Many warehouse and logistics businesses offer some sort of training to employees to help them carry out their roles, often in the realm of health and safety. However, by going above and beyond to offer additional skills training, you can both improve the quality of people’s work and reinforce the ties that bind them to your business. Offering and incentivising training courses can be a great way to sharpen skills, improve practices within your warehouse or logistics operation, and even to fill roles that you may be struggling with or anticipating a need for.

Automation: Warehouse automation isn’t just the future – for many businesses, it’s the present. While Amazon has been the front-runner in this field, they have kept most of their advances to themselves. Numerous companies have stepped into the breach to develop similar autonomous robots and other automated systems, which shepherd pallets and individual items around the warehouse.

The advantages of automation are numerous. Autonomous vehicles and robots can be more reactive, as they receive an order from a WMS and immediately know where to go to carry it out. They also present safety benefits, as they can support heavy loads and pose no risk of injury to human operators, with sensors to prevent them from colliding with people. Their suitability for menial, repetitive work also reduces the physical and mental load on human operators, who can be moved to other tasks.

Tips on How to Effectively Plan a Warehouse Layout Design

Principles of an Efficient Warehouse Layout

Before you start designing your warehouse, you should understand what you’re trying to achieve with your warehouse layout design.

Here are 3 major principles to keep in mind when planning your warehouse:

Space

Consider how to maximise the space you can afford, taking into consideration storage, stock, offices, working areas, empty pallet storage, battery charging, etc.

With a wide variety of vertical racks and freestanding equipment, you should be able to design your warehouse in the way you need it initially, while being flexible enough to change it in the future if desired.

Flow

Warehouse flow can be summarised as the uninterrupted movement of materials, people, and traffic within your building.

Your first goal should be to cut down on any areas of high traffic or potential for cross-flow crashes.

So, each activity that an employee performs must be located as close as possible to the activity that precedes it and proceeds from it.

That also means materials used to perform those activities should be situated as close as possible to each workstation.

Your second goal should be to eliminate as much movement and disruption as possible.

Accessibility

Every product and all products on pallets should be accessible by everyone, usually without the need to move one product to get to another.

That means structuring your pallet racks in rows that are wide enough to accommodate pallet jacks and trucks, and stacking and stocking items strategically for minimal interference with one another.

Millenium SI Solutions for Common Warehouse Problems

Use Your Vertical Space

Look up and make sure you’re using all the vertical space available. Investigate storage media to take advantage of your clear span height. How much cubic feet of vertical space is not being used? Be sure to know how your design might impact your sprinkler design and fire code.

Analyze Your Department Space

Identify functions that do not require high ceilings in areas where lower stacking heights are dictated by the clear height. We often see unused overhead space where large departments like packing and shipping are performed.

Consolidate Locations

If you have multiple locations for storing the same item, consider combining them to create better warehouse space utilisation. This can be done during the putaway process and as a standalone function.

Drop Shipping As An Option

If you store and ship large items, consider utilising some form of drop shipping to reduce your in-house inventory and costs.

Use Off-Site Location for Overstock

If you store a large quantity of excess inventory for a few items, consider some type of offsite storage for the excess, thus freeing up space for supporting the fulfillment operation.

Mezzanine Installation

If your building layout permits, consider the use of a mezzanine to house functions that do not require high-bay storage. These can be expensive and are fairly permanent, but will maximise warehouse space utilisation.

What Is External Racking?

Are you looking for a way to utilise your yard space that will be completely unaffected by adverse weather conditions? External racking could be the solution for you.

External Warehouse Racking is a storage system that has been galvanised to ensure that the racking will have the longest lifespan possible.

By galvanising the racking you are providing the system with extra protection, ensuring that rust and corrosion are not a problem that you will encounter.

If you have an outdoor space, installing an external racking system will provide useful space for your materials whilst utilising the available space.

Where Could External Racking Be Used?

There are multiple applications that external racking is ideal for:

  • Outdoor retail storage
  • Storage yards
  • Builders Merchants

Advantages of External Racking:

  • Weather resistant – the racking is galvanised to prevent any rust and corrosion
  • Ideal for cold or damp locations
  • Utilising available space in your facility – outdoor space is often under-utilised, outdoor racking allows you to use this space efficiently

Disadvantages of External Racking:

  • The racking must be galvanised to protect it from the elements – this increases the costs and often lead times
  • The products stored must also either not be affected by the elements or be protected from them – this may mean protecting the racking with some form of cladding
  • The floor area must be concreted, flat and level as in an internal warehouse

If you would like more information regarding warehouse racking solutions, call us today on (01942) 603344 or email info@millennium-si.co.uk to arrange a no obligation visit.

5 Critical Pallet Rack Safety Hazards

Physical damage to the pallet rack

Often this damage occurs from lift truck collisions. Sufficient clearance space and clear aisles are both great ways to prevent this kind of damage. Always encourage employees to promptly report all minor impacts or observable damage.

Misaligned Racking Safety Hazard

This can cause collapse or failure of your pallet racking system. During inspection, use the manufacturer’s instructions to check that racks are properly aligned, plum, and level.

Loose Floor Fittings

OSHA is clear that rack columns are bottom-anchored to the floor with column base plates secured with anchor bolts.

Suitability of forklift truck

Your material handling equipment and pallet jacks should be sized to meet your needs.

Weight of stored goods versus capacity of racking system

To prevent dangerously overloaded racks, ANSI/RMI MH16.1 suggests posting the maximum permissible unit load, average unit load, and maximum total load per bay.

In the end, whether your racks are damaged, overloaded, improperly anchored or misaligned, they’re a serious safety hazard that can result in serious injury. OSHA recommends warehouse managers develop a thorough maintenance and inspection program. Be liberal with safety audits that include everything from pallet rack signage all the way up your material handling equipment.

How To Keep Your Warehouse Clean

Top tips on how to keep your warehouse clean and safe

  1. Keep an updated cleaning schedule.
  2. Clear your bins regularly. Bins should never get to the point of overflowing.
  3. Have cleaning supplies available for your staff at all times.
  4. Give employees areas to keep clean.
  5. Clean as you go, ensure everyone tidies up after themselves. It is highly recommended that your staff clean litter such as metal shavings as they work maintaining the standard set by your firm and keeping the area hazard free.
  6. Recycle the rubbish that you can.
  7. Provide staff with the correct safety equipment.
  8. Barriers – there are a range of barriers you can get for your warehouse to ensure complete safety of your staff members and keep restricted access to vehicles such as forklifts. This not only keeps your warehouse cleaner, but also ensures organisation.
  9. Label shelving and floors to ensure your staff know where everything is located.

3 Things You Need To Know About Warehouse Racking

Warehouse racking may sound like a relatively simple storage option for your business, but there are some important points to keep in mind before deciding on what type of racking is best.
Should you buy your racking new or second hand?

On paper it may sound like you save a lot of money investing in second hand racking which is an appealing prospect if you trying to cut costs. Unfortunately, this can be a false economy when installing second hand racking can often turn out to be more expensive unless you can be q00% sure there are no missing parts or damage. According to research, 25% of used racking will either be damaged or have parts missing. This will also mean it takes longer to install.

Consider the amount of space needed for handling equipment
Another important consideration when choosing is racking is the type of handling equipment you will be using. If you are using conventional counterbalance trucks for example your aisle space will need to be wider.

Keep safety in mind at all times
Warehouses are potentially dangerous environments particularly when racking maintenance is neglected. As a business owner, you will be responsible for carrying out repairs and audits to racking and these will need to be documented annually. Any repairs should be carried out to manufacturers guidelines and while this might be costly, the cost of compensating staff for injuries will cost considerably more.

Internet Shopping Drives Demand for Warehouse Space and Investment

Fund managers are pouring money into warehouses around the world as the long-term fundamentals of the sector remain strong and set for future growth.
A recent deal involving Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund saw the purchase of a $2.4 billion portfolio of warehouses in Europe. Demand for warehousing has been largely driven by the growth in online retailing, which is revolutionising the way we shop and how businesses store their products.

Amazon, one of the trailblazers is already investing in more and more warehouses to help keep pace with customer demands for fast deliveries.

While one after another big high street retailers with long histories seem to be toppling, online shopping has gone from strength to strength and this will only increase demand for warehouses in the future.

Building a warehouse of course requires a lot of space, therefore unlike other commercial property sectors, warehouses can be more profitable than other asset classes because demand is kept high.

Returns from warehouses are said to be better than for office towers by almost one percent, though returns have diminished slightly as more investors have entered the sector in an attempt to find an alternative to bonds. Yields have fallen lower on bonds due to loose monetary policy in Europe and other parts of the world.