Depending on where your warehouse is located, warehouse space could be insanely expensive or surprisingly cheap. One in the middle of a big city is going to cost you even if it’s a small space, while one down a country road could get you all the space you need and then some. But in both cases, you want to make the most of warehouse optimization so that you’re not having to build or lease another warehouse anytime soon. Making the most of warehouse space optimization means saving time and money in the long run.
So if it’s important to make the most of warehouse layout optimization, what can go wrong? Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes people make when it comes to warehouse optimization.
Problem: Not Making the Most of Vertical Space
The idea of “big open space with pallet racks” that is the common warehouse has been around for a long time. But while the big open space hasn’t changed much, the pallet rack shelving that goes inside them certainly has.
If you’re in an old warehouse with old pallet racks, it’s very possible that the industrial pallet racks were built under old standards. Maybe they were built with forklifts in mind that couldn’t reach as high as the forklifts of today. Perhaps they were assembled with the previous tenants in mind instead, and the space simply isn’t as efficient for you because of it.
If you have a feeling that your warehouse is less efficient because of the wasted space at the top of the storage racking, give one of our warehouse optimization consultants a call. Instead of tripping over pallets left out in the open or getting rid of perfectly good old stock just to make room for the new stuff, our experts can find more space than you can probably imagine.
Problem: Not Studying Sales and Trends
Inefficiencies can plague a warehouse. Sometimes it’s because of the arrangements of the pallet racks themselves. But just as common is the placement of the pallets. Far too many warehouses will put their inventory in the wrong place, causing wasted time for both those who are pulling pallets and those who are waiting for them.
At first you might think that “the inventory we need most often should be closest to the picking-and-packing area.” But if you put your best seller next to the second-best seller, forklifts can get in each other’s way trying to pull them both at the same time. Of course, offloading directly from the loading dock and onto the nearest pallet racks can also be a problem if those racks are far away from picking-and-packing or if a forklift retrieving them could get in the way of the next truck offload.
The most efficient pallet placement probably isn’t where you’d think. You can avoid traffic jams if you know the back roads, even if you have to drive a longer distance. Similarly, a warehouse space optimizer can study your pallet rack placement and materials handling system and create a more efficient workspace.
Problem: Stuck In The Past
Another problem that many warehouses suffer from is that they’re stuck in the past and refuse to make use of the technological advances available to them. The physical nature of a warehouse makes some people believe that there’s no need for technology, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes it’s a warehouse manager not willing to make the change, and they only use old computers or actual paper to keep track of everything. Sticking with a paper process and not trusting electronic tracking can slow everything down and is a surefire way to lose track of inventory.
The fact is, modern warehouse rely on technology to keep track of everything that’s being stored there. The most advanced are technologies such as NFC (near-field communication) and RFID (radio-frequency identification), but there are less expensive options that can help a warehouse manager know exactly where everything is and ensure that someone who’s pulling a pallet is getting what they think they’re getting.
We’re not saying that every warehouse needs a multi-million dollar scanning and tracking system like Amazon uses, but there are certainly simple upgrades — such as barcodes that can be scanned with regular cell phones — that are affordable to everyone.
Problem: The Warehouse Is Messy
In a recent article, we detailed why it’s so important to keep a warehouse clean. Some of the reasons include keeping employees more comfortable and making the warehouse safer. But there’s another point we made that very important to business: efficiency.
No matter where you work, messiness is going to make things more inefficient. If you cook, the dirty dishes are going to get in the way. (Dirty pots and pans also mean that you have to take time to clean them before you can use them.) If you use your table saw as a storage space, you’re going to have to clean it off before you can use it.
But this is a blog about warehouse optimization. How can a messy warehouse mean that you’re being inefficient? Well, trash can literally get in the way. If there is a pile of 2x4s in front of an empty pallet rack space, no one’s going to use it. If one of the empty spots has been unofficially-designated as “used pallet wrap area,” you’ve lost even more space. Overfilled pallets can have inventory fall out of the space and take up extra spaces.
The problem, of course, is that no one is taking responsibility for all of these areas. If you’re a warehouse manager, it’s time to fix that. Either set up cleaning schedules for the small stuff or dictate big stuff to someone and retrieve those pallet rack spaces. Or just do it yourself and make everyone else feel bad about not already taking the responsibility!
Problem: Keeping Outdated Inventory
There’s a time and a place to keep old inventory. If your warehouse is currently half full and you might still sell it, then keeping it only makes sense. If the inventory is seasonal, you’ll probably keep it around until the right season rolls around (but get it out of your way, as we discussed in the second point above).
But if you’re keeping inventory around just because you haven’t gotten around to it, now is the time. Inventory that’s not going to sell isn’t just taking up space, but it’s also preventing you from selling it a loss (which you could claim as a tax write off).
Space that’s being used for something worthless might be the saddest for or warehouse de-optimization. Take care of it if you can.
Contact Our Warehouse Optimization Experts!
If you’re thinking of building another warehouse, STOP and get a warehouse optimization consultation. The experts at DAK Equipment and Engineering can draw up plans that might just allow you to skip the new build and save millions. Click here to learn more!