At some point, every warehouse faces the problem of not having enough floor space. Whether your business is experiencing rapid growth or facing excess product after the holidays, it’s essential to quickly assess and address this issue to get your facility back on track.
So what’s the best way to tackle this problem? Here’s our floor space maximizing process:
Assess Your Current Storage Practices
Maximizing your floor space begins by looking at your current circumstances. How much of your warehouse is being used, and for what? These warehouse utilization metrics are crucial to determining the steps you need to take next.
It is good to note, though, that warehouse space utilization depends on your storage system, specific warehouse and your inventory features. Once you have evaluated these factors, you can begin making necessary improvements.
Before you start moving your pallets and storage shelves, we suggest creating a scaled floor map experiment with different configurations. This can help you find the style that works best for your facility before doing any heavy lifting.
There are a few key questions you should ask as you’re reviewing your scaled map and your current setup:
How far is your delivery zone from your products? Do your workflows and picking processes follow that path?
Is your inventory area running into your receiving and delivery zones or docks? Does this leave these two teams fighting for space?
Are there teams on your floor that need more space?
Are your team members constantly having to double back to complete orders?
Once items are picked, is there space for them to be packed?
After establishing the answers to these questions about your current storage areas, take a look at the ones you may be overlooking.
Assess Underutilized Space
It’s more than likely that there are areas in your warehouse that could be useful for storage, but you just haven’t found the right configuration for them. Now’s the time to do so.
If your floor space is tight, it’s probably time to explore upward options. Modern shelving systems can be stacked higher, providing additional storage to increase your overall capacity. But remember – this overhead storage needs to be able to be accessed safely by your employees. A great way to do this is by investing in an industrial manipulator, which can easily reach products overhead products without the risk of items falling or injury your floor team.
Assessing underutilized spaces involves thinking creatively. For example, is there empty space above shipping or receiving doors? This can be used to provide additional storage for slower-moving items that don’t need to be replenished frequently, or supplies that take up valuable product real estate.
Clear Out Excess Inventory
Almost every warehouse has excess inventory — obsolete, damaged or slow-moving products that aren’t worth the carrying costs to keep. Excess inventory clutters a warehouse and can easily tie up your warehouse’s financials and overall cash flow. Clearing out these items will definitely free up more space on your floor and in your storage systems.
Start with an inventory audit and identify your lowest-performing products. Then, begin to clear out this excess product by:
Revamping your company’s marketing strategy to target the right audience.
Discounting items that have been difficult to sell.
Offering persuasive incentives, such as free shipping.
Bundling items, allowing more products to leave the warehouse per order.
Calling resellers in your area to see if they’re interested in your overflow.
Store Items According to Their Size
This may seem like a small piece of advice, but it makes a big difference.
Matching the size of the items you want to store with their right-sized slot is imperative for optimizing your storage. Whether your item is small, large or uniquely shaped, you should prioritize finding storage that fits. Otherwise, space could easily be wasted, impacting every area of your warehouse. Properly sized storage slots go a long way in creating a more efficient, successful warehouse.
Pick The Right Pallets
When was the last time you assessed your warehouse pallet style? Even changing the style of your pallet can help optimized your warehouse process.
For example, wood pallets aren’t the only option on the market anymore. Plastic pallets can easily be customized to your specifications: Plastic pallets can be molded based on:
Pallet size, weight and deflection limits.
How durable or versatile your pallets must be.
If your pallets need additional coatings, such as urethane.
Whether your pallets need to be able to be stacked, racked or nested.
Besides material, there are also several pallet styles to choose from that all serve different functions. These include push-back racks, double-deep storage, drive-in racks and pallet flow racks, to name a few. Each of these pallet solutions has definite benefits for storage density and versatility.
Assess Your Material Handling Devices
The last step in your floor optimization process is to assess how difficult it is to access your stored items. When it comes to transporting product, manpower alone can often be slow and potentially dangerous depending on size and weight. If you believe this could be a potential problem, you may need a material handling tool such as an industrial manipulator to help your workers easily access the products.
An industrial manipulator allows the precise movement of a manipulator’s arm to lift, lower or transport a product. They’re used when products are too heavy to be moved manually, or a person is at risk for injury when they move a product manually or when a high volume of items ought to be moved in a timely fashion. If your productivity is down, you need a way to improve warehouse safety or if you’re looking to save money in the long-run, an industrial manipulator could be right for you.
Need a Hand?
In 2021, we’ll most certainly continue to see a high volume of online orders. That’s why it’s more important than ever for warehouses to reassess their floor space and storage options. Save yourself time, money and stress in the long-run by addressing this problem head-on right now.
If you’re wondering if an industrial manipulator could be a critical factor in helping you optimize your floor space, we can help. Contact us today to discuss which material handling device is right for you.
For more tips on maximizing your warehouse’s potential, download our free guide on the 5 tips to optimizing your facility: