Planning a warehouse is the key to a business’s ability to effectively store, organize, and manage its items. If you don’t have an efficient warehouse layout, then time will be wasted on doing simple day-to-day tasks such as finding and locating goods, navigating aisles, and tracking down the inventory.
"All these things lead to spending more money and making your work slower, which can mess up how things move in your business. If you have a warehouse and want to figure out the best way to organize it, you're in the right spot. Today, we'll talk about warehouse organization strategies to make things work smoothly!
What Is A Warehouse Layout?
The layout of a warehouse is like a plan for the space inside it. It shows where things like materials, workers, and equipment are put to keep everything moving smoothly for production and distribution.
The warehouse layout considers how every warehouse area, which includes storage, picking, shipping, and office space, is organized. And how the important equipment is placed and used in these areas. The layout has to be compatible with the size and shape of items that will be stored and any potential hazards or obstacles that can hold back the movement.
If a warehouse layout is properly designed, companies can ensure that their operations run smoothly and efficiently. An efficient warehouse design will allow the flow of products from one area to another while maximizing space utilization. The layout can directly affect your company’s profitability, so you have to be careful in the design.
Warehouse Layout Design Types
Most warehouses use one of these common design types: U-shaped, I-shaped, and L-shaped. These types can drive efficiency for your workflow. The best one depends on the available space and your business's workflow needs.
This warehouse design is laid out in a semicircle, or you can call it a ‘U.’ The receiving and shipping are adjacent on either end of the ‘U.’ Meanwhile, the storage fills out the back of the warehouse.
This design is better for small buildings, but truck congestion can occur during the shipping and receiving procedure since the bays are too close.
This design type takes the shape of a straight line, just like an “I.” The shipping is on one end, while the receiving is on the other. The storage is in the middle of this design type. All goods are moved in a single direction, like an assembly line. This design is pretty simple and straightforward. It is useful for warehouses that are always dealing with higher-volume orders.
This warehouse design has the shape of a 90-degree angle or an ‘L.’ The shipping and receiving bays are the ends of the ‘L’ with the storage in the corner. This type of warehouse is useful for businesses that cross-dock or quickly transport items from an inbound truck to an outbound truck.
Cross-docking is common practice in companies that rarely stock up products on the racks and quickly ship stock after it is received.
Warehouse Organization Strategies
Let’s look at some of the best warehouse organization strategies that help maximize storage capacity.
- ABC Inventory Classification: Sort items based on their importance and frequency of use. "A" items are the most important and frequently used, while "C" items are the least.
- Vertical Storage: Utilize vertical space with taller racks and shelving to maximize storage capacity.
- Aisles and Pathways: Ensure clear aisles and pathways for easy access to goods and safety.
- FIFO/LIFO: Implement first-in, first-out (FIFO) or last-in, first-out (LIFO) methods for inventory rotation based on product needs.
- Zone Picking: Divide the warehouse into zones and assign specific workers to each zone to streamline order picking.
- Barcoding and RFID: Use barcode or RFID systems for accurate tracking and management of inventory.
- Cross-Docking: Expedite product movement by transferring goods directly from inbound to outbound without storage.
- Slotting Optimization: Arrange high-demand items for quick access and efficient picking.
- Warehouse Management System (WMS): Implement a WMS to automate and optimize warehouse tasks.
Why Warehouse Layout Is Important
Warehouse layout does so much to your operation’s overall efficiency. Poorly designed warehouses can lead to issues. For instance, low productivity lost or damaged inventory, causing accidents.
A smart layout, which is carefully planned, can improve overall productivity and safety. This will enable the business to move its goods through the space in the most cost-effective way possible. If we put this simply for you, a well-designed warehouse layout can do wonders for your efficiency as well as reduce costs. On top of that, this will bring in some improvements in your customer satisfaction.
Steps To Plan The Perfect Warehouse Layout
There are major steps that are required for planning the perfect warehouse layout. From defining the operation’s overall purpose to testing and executing the layout, read about them below:
Defining the overall purpose of the warehouse:
What is the business model and objective of the warehouse? Is it a distribution centre or a big box store location? What will be stored in the warehouse? How will the inventory be maintained, and how will the items be moved into and out of the warehouse? The answers to these questions will help the business create a layout that will speed up your operations.
Evaluate material handling equipment needs:
Identify which type of material equipment is required. Will a pallet jack and a simple forklift do the trick? These pieces of equipment will be helpful for picking up and putting away the items.
Mapping out and optimizing space:
Building your warehouse diagram for developing a blueprint for the layout. Take the space requirements of storage and equipment needs into consideration. The goal is to figure out how to optimize space. It is important for you to create as accurate a model as possible by using grid paper or software.
Executing the layout:
Putting shelves, rackings, and other required equipment in their respective places. Outline the storage areas and use clear signs. Place materials and products in a designated location. Keep them clearly labeled so they can be found quickly. Speaking of rackings, if you want pallet racking solutions, you can get in touch with OZI Racking for that.