Expanding your warehouse operations leaves you with two options: getting another location or making the most of the space you have. A new location means paying extra for the building, cost of land, machinery and labour. But improving the utilisation of your warehouse space can save you from these costs and is overall cost-effective in the long run.
Find out how you can optimise your existing available space:
Optimise the racking
Avoid arranging your pallet racking system in short bursts or along the walls. Instead, arrange them to be as long as possible.
Check the pallet heights, too. The gap between the base area of the beam and the top of the pallet should be around 100 to 150 millimetres, with at least a metre of clear spaces on all sides. If the racks are occupying more, you can reduce the spaces and get more for storage. Note that you should consider the operating height of forklifts and recommended fire safety space before rearranging the racking system.
You can also add half-pallet locations to hold items that come in smaller quantities. Condensing them lets you put more pallets to hold more products in the same area.
Adjust aisle width
In a warehouse, the floor space is determined by the aisles holding the stock. If you can expand the floor space, you can add more aisles and pallet racks, letting you house more stock. If you reduce the spaces between aisles from 4 metres to 2 metres, for example, you increase the storage space by 50%.
The optimal aisle width varies per operation. For instance, those using larger forklifts may not be able to narrow down the aisles as much as warehouses with smaller models. Consider the things and aspects that need to fit into each aisle when measuring its dimensions.
If your floor space remains tight despite adjusting the aisles and the racking, you can use the vertical potential of your warehouse. There are shelving systems that allow you to add more tiers or extend them up to 3 metres. You can also raise the height of the roof to stack even more levels of pallet storage, as long as the extra height is legal. Also, you need the capability to relocate the stock before extending the racks and that your forklifts can reach the higher levels.
If your floor loading can handle it, add a mezzanine above a floor-level process, such as a receiving or shipping area. Functions that do not need high-bay storage can be held here. You can customise the mezzanine according to the needs of your operations, like making it a permanent warehouse feature or a portable one that can be easily dismantled and relocated to other locations.
Cross-docking is when you load the stock from an inbound vehicle straight onto an outbound vehicle without storing it in between. This technique entails that a stock which can be quickly sorted does not have to be unnecessarily stored in the warehouse. Cross-docking also allows the stock to return to the distribution chain and resume its journey immediately. The technique can be complicated to manage and require additional resources, but you can save a lot of space.
Each warehouse is different. Before expanding your storage space, always keep your operations in mind. These suggestions are not “one-size fits all” solutions, so do not hesitate to combine several techniques and ideas when maximising your space utilisation.