What should a business do when warehouse space becomes much smaller as inventory increases? Build a new warehouse? Probably. Moving operations to new areas would cost a lot of time and money and potential loss of business.
What other options remain viable for maximising warehouse space? With modern storage solutions and material handling equipment, warehouse managers can get more storage space from within their facilities. There are many ways to approach space optimisation in a warehouse with assistance from forklift companies in India, and here are the seven convenient ones.
1. Installing a Mezzanine Floor
If the warehouse has more space above the receiving, shipping and loading areas, it is advisable to double this space for storage. Mezzanine floors create an additional storage space above the floor to handle lighter and fast-moving goods.
When installing mezzanine floors, the loading capacity must handle the additional weight. Despite being costly and labour-intensive, it seamlessly maximises warehouse storage space.
2. Reduce Aisle Width Within Racks
Average warehouse aisles are 10 to 12 feet wide. An average of 5 to 8 feet for small to medium warehouses is enough. Warehouse managers must calculate the current space utilisation and determine how many feet to shave off each aisle. They can save between 15 to 20 per cent of floor space in the long run.
During this process, it is crucial to consider the size of the material handling equipment. The point of reducing aisle width is to maximise efficiency while allowing enough space for equipment like warehouse order pickers.
3. Right-Sizing Storage Slots
Matching the item to the slot size ensures better storage space utilisation. SKUs can be separated and stored with other products of the same size. When storing items based on sizes, it is crucial to determine the varying load sizes in the inventory. After identifying smaller and larger packages, store them in separate racking areas. This approach also minimises the loss of smaller items because they are all held in one space.
4. Expand Storage Space Vertically
Instead of expanding outwards to get more space, building on the available space saves time and money and reduces downtime. Managers should consider extending racking and shelving systems when optimising warehouse space to hold more loads.
For an effective extension of storage space, it is crucial to determine the clear height of the warehouse. Staying in line with the local building code restrictions ensures expansion happens within regulations. After establishing a new space, the final step is reviewing inventory to identify slow-moving goods to store in higher racks.
5. Upgrading Storage Systems
Changing the types of storage racks in a warehouse is also crucial for maximising warehouse storage space. A warehouse using single-deep racking systems can opt for higher-density storage solutions. They can choose double-deep, push-back or drive-in racks to increase storage.
This move may pose a challenge when accessing goods behind other pallets, especially during first-in, first-out operations. Using double-deep racks require reach trucks, potentially increasing operation costs. Nonetheless, forklift companies in India have materials of all sizes that can streamline space utilisation.
6. Remove Obsolete Inventory
Warehouse storage space is valuable, even if only a few racks are available. Sometimes obsolete inventory may sit idle in a space ideal for storing new inventory. Some inventory might sit in the warehouse for over six months or a year without the managers and operators noticing.
A warehouse management system provides a velocity report to show the frequency of inventory picking yearly. This report indicates the delayed items that can either be returned or sold. In the long run, warehouses can save more space from holding fast-moving/selling items.
7. Following the Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle highlights that 80% per cent of consequences result from 20% of the causes. Speaking in warehouse terms, 20% of the items determine 80% of warehouse activity. These fast-moving items keep operators and managers on their toes, making it imperative to analyse inventory levels and growth with a measurement unit for each SKU.
Also applicable to perishable goods that require refrigeration, storing these goods in a specific area, like near the loading and receiving zone, ensures they are highly accessible to allow restocking of racks.
While there are tens of other methods warehouse operators and managers can consider for maximising warehouse space, the ones mentioned above are more approachable. The efficiency of these methods depends on the size of the warehouse facility, the type of inventory, and the level of expansion a business expects. They all achieve the same result, freeing valuable space for better warehouse operations.