An unprecedented explosion of online ordering has created a surge of warehouse openings and expansions. Add to that a never-before-seen amount of supply chain disruptions and delays. For businesses trying to move more product faster, more efficiently, with item level tracking detail opening or expanding their warehouse operations becomes a necessary but risky endeavor. It’s crucial to understand all the essential elements that go into a successful warehouse. With new technologies and automation opportunities available, performing the proper research will help to modernize and improve your operations. Here are the key items to prioritize when opening, expanding, or enhancing a warehouse facility, fulfillment center, or distribution center (DC).
Ask the Right Questions
The backend research that goes into your warehouse considerations is essential for your overall success. Here are some questions to keep in mind when it comes to determining the needs of your new or enhanced operations:
What are your storage requirements?
Every warehouse requires a different layout; the level of activity expected in the facility will influence everything from shelving selection and automation solutions to the number of bay doors. Having a close understanding of the expected activity and an overall plan for the flow of the space is essential. Whether you’re a low or high-velocity warehouse, ensure the infrastructure you put in place will support your goals.
Where can you automate?
With a new warehouse opening, you’ll have the flexibility to design and structure the space and take advantage of the newest technologies. This should include leveraging material handling and automation technology as much as possible to enhance productivity. Carefully consider the details of a wireless LAN infrastructure, conveyors, robotic picking systems, voice directed picking, and more. Take advantage of the latest advancements in technology including rugged handheld computers and scanners, RFID, mobile printing and more to make sure you are operating at maximum efficiency.
How can you optimize?
While automation can help optimize operations, it’s all for naught if your employees waste time walking the length of the new warehouse searching for inventory. Optimize the picking process by putting your fastest moving items in the closest shipping locations, and continually monitor item velocity. Make necessary changes as needed to continuously improve your processes.
Warehouse Design Checklist
The layout and overall design of your new facility will weigh heavily on the performance of your new business. How you set up your layout directly impacts productivity, employee performance, inventory, safety, and more. Here is a checklist to help you with your warehouse design:
- Strategy: What are the objectives of your new business and how will you execute them?
- Operational Data: How can you maximize your receiving, inventory, and production with real-time data you’ve collected?
- Building Requirements: What do you need from your warehouse space? Anything your landlord would disapprove of?
- Equipment Needs: Any storage and warehouse equipment “must-haves” that must be present when designing the layout?
- Measurements: Be careful to measure the dimensions of your new space exactly, including ceiling clear height. Exact measurements are imperative to planning the layout and utilizing every square foot.
- Identify Obstructions: Make note of building columns, sprinkler systems, heaters, fans, offices, and more.
Plan the Workflow
Making sure your traffic flow is agile and simple is paramount before opening. Here are some things to consider when planning the workflow of your new location:
- Aisle Layout: Consider the mobile equipment necessary like pallet jacks, forklifts, carts that will need to maneuver within your space.
- Traffic Flow: Depending on aisle layout, this may affect the flow of equipment and employees working in the space. Are there any one-way aisles? Are there specific zones for employees to keep everything moving seamlessly?
- Warehouse Storage: Don’t overlook where to store your fulfillment center, warehouse or DC solutions. From rolling ladders to carts and forklifts—you need adequate storage space for all internal needs plus the space for your incoming inventory.
Invest in the Best Solutions
As with any other opening, business owners should take the time to research and invest in the best solutions from the beginning.
Exemplary customer support results in greater ROI and outstanding value for your business. It’s important to partner with providers who have in-depth, industry knowledge, and can provide all the support, resources, and services you need to be successful. Here are some of the warehouse management needs to consider to become more competitive in the marketplace:
- Yard operations
- Piece, case, and pallet picking
- Basic, batch, zone, and wave picking
- Flow through
- Cross dock
Choosing the best solutions and services provider can make all the difference to make the process efficient and simplified. Once you have your configuration set up for your opening, test out the process with your team. This will help work out any bottlenecks within the day-to-day operations. It’s best to catch these in advance, so you can make tweaks to streamline your worker’s day.
Don’t forget to check that all safety requirements are up to OSHA standards. You don’t want to bring in millions of products without knowing your warehouse operations meet all safety measures.
Warehouse Opening Success Begins with Peak Technologies
Unlike other segments of the economy, you can expect record-breaking demand for warehouse, DC, and fulfillment center openings. For the most successful opening, it’s essential to consider the research, questions, and action steps to take for your enterprise. When you collaborate with an industry-leader in the warehouse space, this makes the process easier.
Peak Technologies understands your business processes in the supply chain, mobile workforce, and how they interrelate. We work with you to understand and define your needs and then develop a tailored solution to present the greatest return on investment. Our team of experts help you select solutions to maximize your warehouse or DC efficiency to give you a competitive advantage. Contact us today to learn how we can support your business.