In the UK there’s a massive surge in the demand for warehouse space which doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Warehouse space has become the gem of real estate so finding the perfect space for your business is like finding gold dust which unfortunately makes the search for you as a potential buyer or leaseholder more difficult and pressuring. Although efforts to keep up with demand can be seen up and down the country through the emergence of new industrial parks, the shed shortfall is felt across the industry. So, what’s brought on this drastic battle for warehouse space?
Brexit – The evaporated hopes for a deal to continue trading under similar pre-Brexit agreements means many businesses are now preparing for interruptions in their supply chain. In an effort to manage through the difficulties and be prepared, businesses are sourcing warehouse space to ensure they can secure a substantial supply of goods.
Covid19 – The heightened demand for online sales accelerated by the ongoing Covid19 pandemic has resulted in retailers conforming to the new digital era where warehouse space is now the heart of their operations and not physical stores. Despite the good news of a newly developed vaccine having been approved, the realisation that the shift to online sales is no longer temporary for many retailers as consumer confidence in digital transactions continues to grow.
For many businesses, the hunt for new warehouse space has become gruelling due to demand exceeding supply resulting in a heighten the risk of either losing out on the perfect space, or investing in the wrong space. So what’s the solution?
Get the right support from the outset
Before investing in new warehouse space, a projection of how that particular space could work for your business operation is more of a necessity rather than an option. You can decide with confidence whether a particular space is the right investment for your business by using the knowledge and expertise offered by WSL. We have spent the last three decades working alongside contractors, agents, developers and directly with our clients providing an accurate vision of how a potential warehouse space can be utilised and configured, giving them clarity before they commit which has proven to be very valuable to them. After all, an investment in new warehouse space is huge and comes with long term commitment.
WSL can accompany you on your journey to the right warehouse space too. Whether you’re indecisive about one potential warehouse or torn between two, here’s how WSL can assist to help you determine whether a specific space is the right investment for you:
We’ll provide free site surveys for any warehouse you may be considering, along with complimentary plans produced using computer assisted software and a free non obligatory budgetary quotation. All you need to do is contact us as early as possible so we can submit your plans in good time.
The site survey is a key part of our service, because when it comes to storage systems and space utilisation the “one size fits all” approach doesn’t apply. During a site survey, our Design Technician will take the opportunity to:
Assess the potential space –A calculation of the entire cubical space within the building will help determine the amount of storage space it has to offer. The true storage potential can be revealed by measuring both the height and floor space which can be utilised though smart storage designs. The space assessment will also entail making a record of structural and fixed ancillaries to ensure these are included in the design. Exit locations will be noted so the design assists a quick and safe exit in the event of any emergency. The location of goods in and goods out is crucial too, as this dictates whether the flow of goods follow the direction if U, L or I, as illustrated in the diagram bellow.
Get to know you and your business – Your business needs are vital to storage solution design. To ensure the best use of space our Design Technician will be keen to learn as much as he/she can about your business from the outset. Understanding your industry, your employee numbers and the operations of each department will enable a sufficient divide of space so departments can operate comfortably.
Understand your long and short term goals – Your warehouse goals of speed, productivity and accuracy should of course coincide with your long term business goals. Our Design Technicians will always consider your current and future goals in order to design the most optimal yet sustainable solution. Maximum space utilisation, coordination and organisation can be achieved with the right storage and handling solutions, paving the way for a successful warehouse and prospering business.
Understand your inventory –The characteristics of your inventory is one of the most important deciding factors when choosing between different storage solutions. This is because your inventory is the most significant item in your warehouse and your business can suffer great financial loss in situations where inventory is mishandled. To ensure a solution that can accommodate the needs of your inventory whilst saving space, time and money, our Design Technician will ask the following:
Is your stock perishable?
Some storage systems provide assisted stock rotation by working by the First-in First-out (FIFO) method so if you’re looking to eliminate manual stock rotation whilst maximising storage capacity within a limited footprint here are a few suggestions:
Pallet Live Racking – Offering deep storage and assisted stock rotation, pallet live racking is ideal if you’re looking to store high volumes of perishable goods even if floor space is restricted. The system consists of deep lanes of up to six pallets long with no aisles in between so most of the footprint area is utilised for storage. The only two aisles needed both run parallel to each other, one located on the loading side of the structure and the other on the picking face. Once loaded the pallets use gravity to make their own way down the slightly tilted deep lanes on rollers towards the picking face where the first pallet loaded is the first to be picked.
Carton Live Shelving – Does your hand loaded inventory have limited shelf life? If so carton live shelving offers assisted stock rotation and can help you keep the pace in fast moving environments. Items enter the shelf on one side from where they are carried on rollers along the tilted shelf surface towards the picking face ready to be retrieved. Working by the FIFO method, the first items to be loaded will take its place on the picking face to be picked first.
Is your inventory temperature controlled?
Opting for a compact storage solution allows more items to be stored within a specific floor area reducing energy consumption and costs per pallet. The examples below are suited to all environment types in including cold, frozen, chilled and ambient:
Push Back Pallet Racking – A highly compact storage system, this is perfect if you’re looking to reduce energy consumption. Push back racking works is the same way as pallet live racking, however its configured with only one working aisle and this is used to load and retrieve pallets. The system’s method is First-in Last-out (FILO) so if stock rotation is non essential then push back racking is an ideal space saving solution, however if your cold or frozen item require rotation then pallet live racking would be a more feasible option.
Drive-in/Drive-through Pallet Racking – A system that can be configured to work on either the FIFO or FILO basis, drive-in/drive-through pallet racking provides compact storage by storing pallets back to back and bottom to top. This increases the ability to store more pallets within a specific floor area, making it ideal for frozen or cold chambers. Fork lift trucks enter the structure to store and retrieve pallets from one working aisle or two if you require assisted stock rotation.
Shuttle Pallet Racking– Another deep storage option, shuttle racking consist of deep running lanes in which pallets are transported having been loaded onto a radio controlled shuttle. The system can provided assisted stock rotation by simply switching a button to enable the FIFO method and can be switched back to FILO method easily. With no working aisle between the racks, shuttle racking is ideal for temperature controlled environments. This highly characteristic system offers storage capacity similar to that of push back and pallet live racking, however it would be most suited to lower turnover inventory as there are waiting times for the shuttle to travel to consider.
Mobile Racking – With no fixed working aisle, mobile racking provides in depth storage of pallets in standard racks which are accessed when the mobile base on which the racks are mounted is opened. Mobile racks are closed shut unless opened for access and this provides extra security for your inventory and although not suited to fast flowing inventory, mobile racking is a sophisticated system which provides excellent use of space.
Are your items particularly heavy, bulky or long in length?
For none palletised inventory that requires racking our designer can provide bespoke space saving solutions that will accommodate your inventory, support the needs of your business and streamline your operation. Bellow is a brief description of none palletised warehouse racking systems all of which can be configured through careful design to suit your space and operational processes
Cantilever Racking – A durable and highly versatile solution that can be designed and manufactured by our team to provided sustainable storage for your items whatever their size, weight, shape and length. Positioned back to back or against a wall, cantilever racking is a slim robust structure consisting of a central stand and cantilever supporting arms on which items are stored with easy access and high visibility. Perfect for white goods, steel, pipe or timber storage and can be galvanised to be used for external storage.
Garment Hanging Racking System – Customers buying clothing items don’t want to receive damaged or creased items. Using a system that allows garments to hang whilst in storage helps to keep clothing and other delicate items in pristine condition. Offering organised simplicity, a garment hanging system can be configured to suit your space, inventory volume and speed and can vary from a simple railed system to a highly sophisticated, multi levelled structured.
Carpet Racking – A racking system specifically designed to safely store long, heavy rolls of carpet which is easily loaded and retrieved using a forklift truck with a special attachment. The deep long compartment slots are perfectly sized to allow more slots across multiple levels and on multiple rows, so space is saved and storage capacity is maximised.
Will you be storing multiple product types which may differ?
It’s common for warehouses to store a variety of different products even at the same time and there are many warehouses in which inventory changes in characteristics often:
Wide aisle racking/standard adjustable racking (APR) – If you’re likely to be storing multiple product types, then you may be looking for a more flexible solution. Wide aisle pallet racking which is often referred to as standard adjustable pallet racking or just standard pallet racking is a highly flexible, very versatile and affordable solution. The racks are easy to adjust so your changing needs can be accommodated. This can be achieved by simply by moving the beams or adding or removing racks. The depth of storage can increase to two pallets deep by poisoning the racks back to back to form double deep pallet racking. This configuration will increase storage capacity by reducing the number of fixed working aisles.
Long Span Shelving – Suitable for individual hand loaded, weighty items long span shelving is a durable yet low cost storage solution that’s easy to assemble and easy to use. Arranged to suit your space whilst accommodate the needs of your inventory the shelves are adjustable in height and available in different widths and depths, which can be reconfigured easily should your inventory needs change. To maximise height space long span shelving can be built tall with integrated floor levels, creating a multi tiered shelving system which can be accessed via staircases or lifts.
How many pallets or singular items will you be looking to store at one time?
Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking – Modelled using the full height of the warehouse space narrow aisle racking can be built as tall as the internal space allows. Between the tall racks, the aisles are narrowed to make way for more rows therefore narrow aisle racking makes great use of both floor and height space. Specialist slim fork lift trucks that are assisted safely through the aisles by guide rails and can reach even the highest racks easily and safely. Our designer will assess the floor quality to ensure suitability as a narrow aisle racking system can only be installed on a super flat floor surface.
Are your items small, valuable or confidential?
Short Span Shelving – Where hand loaded inventory is small and light, short span shelving is a simple, low cost yet versatile solution. It makes small part storage easy and with the incorporation if dividers and bins so you can organise your inventory and keep even the smallest parts organised and safe. You can save space by placing the shelves back to back with slim walkways between them.
Mobile Shelving – A space saving solution which is perfect if you’re looking for extra security when storing high value items or confidential documents because mobile shelving closes together to save space which in turn keeps the items away from immediate view. The shelves are mounted onto a mobile base, eliminating fixed access aisles and increasing storage capacity.
Like warehouse buildings, warehouse storage solutions don’t come as standard, they vary greatly in terms of type, configurations, capabilities and are designed to suit the individual business needs and space. Having a clear understanding of your inventory needs combined with the space available and operational processes our Design Technician can discuss the storage options that would be most suited to your requirements in the most viable configuration.
Dividing space effectively to create the optimal warehouse layout
Once our Design Technician has an understanding of your business needs, it’s time to look at possible warehouse layout plans which is designed by incorporating your specific storage needs, inventory directional flow, operational processes and department activities and their size. Effective space usage is crucial to ensuring the most optimal warehouse layout where departments are in order to the process to ensure it’s streamlined.
Does the size of the floor space concern you?
The secret to adding more floor space to a warehouse which is perfectly located but has limited floor space is the installation of a mezzanine floor. This is a semi permanent structure which can be constructed within the warehouse space to create more usable floor space above ground level which means the structural building itself is unaffected. A warehouse mezzanine floor is a viable option and the upper level space can be multiplied and used in a variety of ways:
Office space: You can preserve the ground floor level to ensure enough space to carry out your daily warehouse processes by using an office mezzanine floor to accommodate your office staff.
Production areas: Production can take a huge chunk of space and when accommodated on the mezzanine levels, the lower ground space can be put to other vital use.
Staff Facilities: A mezzanine floor can create a comfortable space where staff can take time out and relax away from the main works area during break and lunch periods.
Storage: You can utilise a warehouse mezzanine floor for storage purposes by incorporating shelving systems and pallet racking.
Mezzanine floor access – Depending on how you choose to use your mezzanine floor space, access can be gained via staircases, lifts, chutes or pallet gates all of which vary in size, style and appearance due to the wide choice available.
Mezzanine floor design – Mezzanine floors do not come as standard because the space they are in and how they are used can vary greatly. For this reason every mezzanine floor is uniquely designed to perfectly match space and usage requirements including vital weight bearings. WSL has been designing mezzanine floors for over thirty years and having been a mezzanine floor manufacturer since 2008, our designs are truly bespoke. Sourcing a mezzanine floor direct from a manufacturer has many benefits including extra flexibility in the design.
Mezzanine floor manufacturing – The CE Marking BSEN 1090 or soon to be UK equivalent after Brexit is essential to ensuring that mezzanine floors are manufactured in accordance to Government safety guidelines and are fully traceable. As a CE Marking BS EN 109 accredited manufacturer of mezzanine floors with Full SEMA membership (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association), WSL can guarantee the highest standards of safety and quality.
Answering all you questions and addressing any concerns you may have
At WSL our design team have over a centuries worth of experience, knowledge and expertise between them. They can answer all your questions whilst on site during the visit so when the meeting on site comes to an end, you leave knowing the answers to the questions you had at the beginning of the meeting. Don’t worry if you forget to ask something or later have a new question, our designer will make sure you have their contact details before parting ways, and will be happy assist with further questions or queries.
What happens after the site visit?
We believe that after spending time with a WSL expert design technician that you’ll feel confident that once you have your plans you will know whether the space is right for your business. Whether you take the space or not, you will be in no doubt about your decision.
Your warehouse plan
On leaving your site, our Design Technician will use computer assisted drafting to create a plan of your potential warehouse and this will incorporate your chosen bespoke storage solutions so you visualise the space in operation. The plan will provide an opportunity to envisage the space in operation so you can decide whether or not the space is right for you or whether you need to reconsider your options. Any doubts you initially had about whether the space is suitable will either be erased or confirmed after analysing the new plan. Your plans will be with you with an agreed timescale to ensure you have everything you need to help you make a timely decision.
Our Design Technician will spare no effort to ensure you have accurate knowledge of the storage capacity a warehouse has to offer before you decide on acquirement. If you do decide on a solution we provided and commission our team to complete the project you’ll find our Project Managers and installation team to be just as professional and friendly as our Design Technician.
To discuss the storage potential of a warehouse your interested in, call our friendly advisors today on 0113 2045350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org