Warehouses and distribution centres are dynamically changing environments. Or at least they should be to accommodate the ever changing character of your business. So whether you are looking to expand and grow or re-brand, the warehouse space should be flexible enough to continue to suit your needs. Moving to a new, bigger space and location is often very expensive and never hassle-free. What can you do if you are happy with the current location, but not necessarily its size? There is certainly plenty of ways of increasing warehouse capacity which will help you make the most of the existing floor space. Warehouses differ from one another, even if they seem to be of the same type or serve a similar purpose. It is therefore necessary to know exactly what requirements it needs to conform to in order to maximise its storage capacity and, what follows, productivity.
Static vs. dynamic warehouse capacity
Since warehouse capacity is such an important aspect, it’s crucial to first understand what exactly we mean by it. It may sound unnecessary and trivial, but the fact is that capacity is a complex aspect. Understanding it helps determine the actual capacity you have and how much and by what means you can expand it. There are two main types of capacity: static and dynamic.
Capacity required for goods at a standstill is referred to as static capacity. Pick areas need to have enough space to accommodate required number of stock keeping units. Reserve stock area serves the purpose of re-stocking other areas and needs to be of a specified capacity as well. Specialised software makes precise calculations and provides information regarding capacity required to meet customer requirements. It measures cycle stock, which is the standard stock necessary to meet the demand. Safety stock is used in times of higher than usual demand. Static storage includes floor area with racking and shelving, automatic storage and retrieval systems amongst other. Type of products dictates type of a storage system. You should also bear in mind that static capacity comprises of vehicle parking area. When too small and not managed properly in terms of time slots, this can also be a limiting factor of warehouse productivity.
SEE ALSO: 9 Tips To Reduce Costs in Warehousing
Warehouse dynamic capacity is a rather complex subject in which various software can be of help. It refers to work that a facility is capable of dealing with. It is the combination of work that needs to be performed to serve individual clients, as well as other, downstream, and warehouses that your business serves. Depending on size of the customer, there are different types of picks: full pallet, case and individual item picks. They vary in amount of work and space required to efficiently perform them.
Floor space and aisle width
Aisles must be wide enough to accommodate manoeuvring forklifts and ensure safe movement of people and other vehicles. It is important to assess if forklifts need to turn sideways, all the way or if several forklifts have to operate in the same aisle at any given time. Reducing width of aisles is a plausible way of increasing productivity and available space. It might create the need to use more narrow pallets or the equipment used to move them. Very narrow lanes, ranging from 72 to 78 inches, can sometimes greatly help with increasing storage density even though they require more specific types of material handling equipment.
Shelving and racking
Instead of removing current racking system and replacing it with new units, investigate the possibilities of adaptation. You should be able to adjust horizontal beams and thus expand storage space. See if increasing racking height is an option. Remember about the safety regulation regarding clearance and check if your current forklifts can reach as high before adjusting racking height. Pallets shouldn’t be stored in spaces larger than 4 to 6 inches. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting space. Here we come back to adjusting horizontal beams. However, you need to remember not to overload racks as this is both illegal and extremely dangerous. Push-back racking is a specialised type of racking that can store from 2 to 6 pallets in depth. It can help you further save space but has a few downsides, such as the relatively high cost in comparison to conventional racking systems.