In many ways, warehouses are the powerhouse of industrial products manufacturing. Since they are the place where the goods are pumped to keep the flow of the supply chain alive, designing your warehouse in an efficient manner is going to be fundamental for your logistics to be successful and, thus, turning your company into a market leader.This is no easy task though, so here are the basics to start designing your logistic warehouse on the right foot.
1. Choose the size wisely
The bigger the surface you want to acquire for your warehouse, the cheaper the price per square meter. However, you should think twice before start building the biggest warehouse you can afford. Why? Because more space also means bigger distances, which is going to increase the travel of your merchandise and the walks of your workers, and this might decrease the effectiveness of the picking process. To cut costs, sticking to portable sheds instead of building a warehouse from scratch might be a good choice. In several websites such as Group Harwal you can find some high quality products to suit your needs depending on the kind of business you run.
2. Know your needs
When facing the task of designing a warehouse, you need to analyze the needs of your type of business. Depending on the level of activity and how much merchandise you need to store, you can choose among four types of warehouse designs:
- Low activity and low need for storage: small space, simple storage system.
- Low activity and high storage needs: requires more space for goods, but automation needs are still scarce.
- High activity and low need for storage: You need automation in order processing, a big front part for picking and simple storage area.
- High activity and high storage needs: requires high performance distribution centers, meaning huge spaces with a highly automated process –for example, intelligent shelves able to look for the godos themselves and taking them to the operator.
3. Think about the future
When designing a warehouse you must also consider a margin of flexibility that allows it to absorb seasonal peaks and that does not render it obsolete due to lack of space in a very short time. It is very possible that the needs of your warehouse today are not the same as in five years, so it never hurts to design having a little extra space in mind.
4. Distribute the space rationally
It is essential that the flow of processes and goods is smooth. For this, it is advisable that you try to organize your space so that the processes that happen one after another are as close together as possible -and in the same order in which they are executed- when designing your warehouse.
Try to have a rational distribution of space. Avoid creating areas with very little activity and other areas very saturated. In order to do so, estimate the time it would take you to manage your orders according to the design you have in mind and see if it will be fast enough for your needs. Try to think the estimated time that it would take to locate the merchandise, removing it from its location, moving it to the point of departure, and so on. The same should be done with the loading and unloading operations and the number of orders that you can process.
Entrances and loading docks
The location of the entrances and the loading docks and the distribution of the whole warehouse is vital when designing it. Depending on the type of merchandise, vehicles and the amount of material you have to manage you will have to decide the location, the number of loading docks and the type and size of access entrances. It’s not the same if the vehicles often enter directly into your facilities, if they only do it on an ad hoc basis or if they never do it.
The U-shaped distributions, where the docks are entry and exit at the same time, are usually the most common. In these cases, merchandise with more rotation is usually placed at the docks’ closest location to save some distance. In the drive through designs, however, the goods go out of the warehouse at the opposite end of the entrance, so the goods with the most movement are usually located halfway between the entrance and exit docks.
Workers and machinery
Workers and machinery are another aspect that you must take into account when designing your warehouse. There must be space for both machines and people to move around safely. In the same way, you will have to enable rest areas, toilets and food and drinks vending machines or a little kitchen for employees.