Case study

Are you facing the daily challenges in warehouse management?

As a Warehouse or Logistical Operations Manager you’ll be geared towards productivity, focused on customer expectations, concerned with budget, proficient in health and safety, and everything in between. You’re an accomplished multi-tasker promoting quality and speed at every turn to ensure your warehouse operates successfully, efficiently and cost effectively.

The key driver for high profitability is high productivity, achieved through a timely, accurate streamlined process from goods receipt, putting away, storage, picking, packing through to despatch. However well your warehouse operates, there’s always room for improvement because even a minor malfunction at any stage of the process can have a ripple effect on the overall productivity hindering customer retention, reputation and profit.

As a key part of our service, WSL offer viable, practical solutions that allow you to adopt consistency and accuracy at every chain stage. Whatever your current warehouse and storage composition we can exhibit simple, low cost alterations unique to your business needs that will trigger a significant boost in productivity.

So if your warehouse isn’t running like the well-oiled machine you envisaged, WSL can help by identifying inefficiencies within the chain to determine worthwhile corrective actions. A full revaluation of your existing setup during an on site visit will allow our designers to asses your current:

  • Timescales– how much time does each process take, and can this be improved?
  • Inventory Organisation– Is your inventory organised in accordance to volume and frequency?
  • Storage Systems–Do your current storage systems help you manage inventory effectively?
  • Warehouse Layout – Does your warehouse layout support an optimum process flow?
  • Space Utilisation – Do you have unused space which could be utilised?
  • Running Costs – Are you spending more than necessary on labour costs or energy costs?
  • Readiness for Change – Would your warehouse be prepared and equipped to operate after an unexpected surge in demand?

Improvements to the above can have a positive impact, improving flow, speed, quality and customer service and this can be achieved without the need to spend ridiculously large sums of money. There’s no need to adopt a fully automated warehouse, expand the premises or relocate to make real improvements to your operation. And as they saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it so you may already have most of the above perfectly arranged with only one or two requiring adjustments.

After a thorough assessment our design technician will produce bespoke plans illustrating cost effective solutions that will see drastic improvement to your business. As every warehouse is different our proposed solutions will be tailored to cut costs and heighten productivity within your particular business, suited to your space, operation and requirements.

Let’s take a look at some of those simple, cost effective ways to accelerate your warehouse:

Adapt your warehouse floor plan – You will likely gain a new perspective on your warehouse layout if the floor plan is defective in conjunction with your processes. Your process should follow an orderly sequence which can be disrupted if the different stages are located against the process order. A drawn up birds-eye plan of your warehouse layout can help you detect these insufficiencies just by following the process sequence with a pencil and taking note of directional changes. Consider the time it takes for employees to travel from one work area to another to perform required tasks. If the layout is irregular to the process you may discover that the movement between departments is more time consuming than they need to be. A clear comprehension of your processes will enable our designer to create a new layout plan which insures a more streamlined order of activities. The reconfiguration will simply involve relocating and adjusting specific departmental areas so each is well placed with adequate space.

 

Utilise all available space– When you’ve resorted to placing pallets in none racked areas until new space becomes available in the racks, it may seem like your warehouse space is fully exhausted; but is it? Your floor space may be used to its limit; however this alone doesn’t necessarily mean all space is being constructively used. How tall is your storage in comparison to the height of the ceiling? How wide is the space between storage rows? Is there wasted space surrounding stored pallets or shelved items which could be reduced to created more storage slots? Good space utilisation comes from exploiting the full cubic area of your warehouse space, with creative out of the box thinking. Here are a few different systems designed to help you achieve this:

Narrow aisle pallet racking – Bring your pallet rows closer together, making each aisle between the rows much narrower and add height to the racking to create narrow aisle pallet racking. Although specialist forklift trucks are required to navigate the narrow aisles and reach the taller racks this is ideal if you’re looking for efficient space utilisation, uniformed storage and direct access to pallets as and when needed. The ability to store more pallets vertically means you gain more storage within the same floor space without extra building costs. Every pallet can be accessed quickly and efficiently, increasing productivity which can result in a return on the initial investment.

Very Narrow Pallet Racking System

 

Multi Tier Shelving – Create a tiered shelving system with the incorporation of taller shelves combined with multiple floor levels within the same surface area. The floor levels are none structural making this a low cost, highly effective solution which can be implemented quickly with minimal disruption. The upper levels are accessed easily by staircases or lifts can be incorporated and the system can be configured using any type of warehouse shelving.

Warehouse multi tier shelving system

 

Mezzanine Floor – The implementation of a structural mezzanine floor level can enable warehouse space utilisation in countless ways. A mezzanine floor can be used to accommodate additional storage, or maybe you want to make way for more storage space on the ground floor by relocating office staff to an overhead mezzanine level. WSL will not only design your mezzanine floor which can be single or multi tiered but we will also manufacture it to the stringent CE Marking BS EN 1090 standards from our in house factory in Leeds, West Yorkshire before we deliver it to wherever you are in the UK and install it professionally.

Warehouse multi tier storage mezzanine floor

 

Compact Storage Racking Systems – If your height space isn’t quite so generous consider compact storage pallet racking. There are various types of compact racking systems namely being pallet live, mobile, drive-in, drive-through and shuttle racking. All types take away the need for none essential aisle space and consist of deep storage using long lane depth to increase the number of pallets stored.

Compact shuttle pallet racking system

 

Optimise the picking process – It may appear uncomplicated and inexpensive, however the process of inventory picking requires manual labour making it a high cost activity, open to error and delay. Insufficiencies in the picking process will negatively affect customer experience, impacting the business as a whole in a less favourable way. The key to ensuring optimal picking is the adoption of certain strategies, directives and technologies which will support the role of pickers to help reduce the risk of expensive mistakes or deceleration’s. These can include:

  • Product reorganisation – Examine how and where products are stored in accordance to retrieval needs. Are frequently picked products stored the furthest away? Are products often picked together located separately and away from each other? If so pickers are likely to be travelling a lot further than necessary simply due to product location. This is a common issue, but can be easily resolved with a little reorganisation. Storing your products in colour co-ordination may look neat, but it can cause disruption to the process so it’s defiantly worth taking a little time to re-evaluate product organisation. The inconvenience of relocating product groups can be made easier by completing the task during quieter hours and the time and effort will certainly be worth it in the long term.
  • Pick in batches where possible – One picking trip per customer order can waste valuable time when it’s much easier and faster to complete multiple orders in one trip. If customer A orders bread, beans and carrots and customer B orders crumpets, beans and carrots both orders can be picked in one trip as both have similar items on the list
  • Improve stock rotation – When handling perishable goods, pickers have the added responsibility to ensure the earliest dated stock is picked first. As pickers are only human, mistakes here can easily be made and when they do it’s costly to the business. Searching through stock to find the earliest shelf life date takes time and effort which is not ideal when there’s an urgency to keep to a specific speed. Semi automated stock rotation can help streamline this process and can be implemented through specific storage systems in the form of both pallet racking and shelving. Offering both compact storage and assisted stock rotation, pallet live racking is a great example. Controlled by gravity, the slightly tilted structure works on a first-first in first-out (FIFO) basis so the newer the stock the further back it is in line to be picked. Carton live shelving works by the same method allowing hand held items to be picked in accordance to shelf life date. The introduction of assisted stock rotation will increase speed and improve accuracy which in turn saves you money.

Carton Live Shelving picking system

 

Ensure adequate warehouse labelling – Promote order and direction in your warehouse with rack labels, shelf labels, floor markings and signage to ensure operational efficiency.  Warehouse labelling prevents disarray and chaos because it provides immediate information which saves valuable time. Warehouse labelling has numerous uses from controlling the direction of traffic flow to managing stock control through the scanning of barcode labels. They will also ensure safety by giving clear instructions on such things as weight load capacities of storage structures.

Rack Safety Training – Invest in your staffs knowledge and awareness of warehouse safety to the extent where they can easily detect potential danger in racking or other storage structures. The ability to carry out internal inspections with immediate reporting of potential weaknesses saves not just time and money, but can also save lives. A hindered storage structure which has gone unnoticed can have catastrophic consequences if the structure collapses. Use the expertise of our longest serving rack inspector who provides in-house rack inspection training to our clients on a regular basis as well as carrying out periodic in depth rack inspections.

Why WSL?

In operation since 1989, the number of years experience our design technicians carry is almost 100, that’s ten decades spent designing bespoke solutions specific to warehouse operational improvements in all industry types.  Procuring only high quality products at highly competitive prices our savings are forwarded on to our clients. We are a highly accredited British Manufacturer of Mezzanine Floors holding the CE Marking BS EN: 1090 certification and can guarantee quality and safety assurances as a Full Member of SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association). Whatever the size of your warehouse and whatever your inventory requirements, by using our extensive experience and knowledge you can reshape and remodel your processes to achieve your goals. Contact us today and we’ll put you in touch with one of our design technicians. Call 0113 2045350 or email sales@wslmail.co.uk

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