One element of warehousing that can have a negative impact on supply chain costs is the way in which the space is set out and utilized. How many of the following four inefficiencies do you recognise within your company’s warehouse layout? If you can identify with one or more of them, you’ll find a tip or two here to help remedy the situation and improve warehouse layout efficiency.
#1: Receiving department
The goods receiving area of your warehouse is generally a hive of activity, which all too often is crammed into an inadequate space for the purpose.
While it may seem counterintuitive to give up floor and racking space to expand the goods-in section of your warehouse, releasing a larger floor area here can often lead to greater overall warehouse layout efficiency—and therefore reduced operating costs.
Time is money and distance is time.
If you are at all familiar with lean supply chain practices, you will know that transport and motion are two of the seven wastes to be minimised or eliminated in a warehouse. A great deal of excess motion and transport are generated by poorly laid out pick faces, through which warehouse operatives must back-track and meander while assembling orders or truckloads.
Unfortunately, even when warehouses start out with a logical and efficient picking route, the addition, removal and changes in turnover of product lines often result in these routes being undone over time.
Reviewing your pick paths from time to time and making the effort to rearrange storage locations can pay off by improving picking efficiency and keeping labour-related costs down.
#3: Pick it Up – Put it Down … Again
Every time your warehouse team members pick up an item from your inventory, it costs money for your operation.
If you find that you have product lines which are put away in bulk storage areas and then frequently moved to replenish picking locations, consider putting them on the floor instead and picking directly from this floor stock.
This is just one example, but the golden rule is, reduce the amount of times that any inventory item is touched, between receiving and dispatching.
#4: Pick face layout
A vast warehouse with rows of racking marching into the distance might look impressive, but such a set-up is likely to murder your warehouse layout efficiency. Make it easier for operatives to move around your warehouse by creating plenty of cross-aisles. A top-down view of your warehouse should look more like city blocks than a 10 lane superhighway. While the four sources of inefficiency and cost described here might seem like common sense, time has a way of eroding the good work done in initial warehouse layout planning.