A business bears huge reliance on its warehouse. This is because the warehouse provides indispensable support through inventory control and management and as an asset to the business which brings in revenue, the proper handling of merchandise is crucial.
For a warehouse to fulfill its function, storage and handling systems are adopted in the form of warehouse racking and storage solutions. Pallet racking and none palletised racking such as cantilever racking or carpet racking are all systems cleverly designed to save time, money and space whilst storing inventory securely.
The fundamentals of warehouse racking
Warehouse racking gives the warehouse its strength of character. It enables the warehouse to organise inventory, utilise space and rationalise its processes. Managing the comings and goings of multiple inventory types in high volumes, and at a varied pace requires coordination and warehouse racking is the tool used to achieve this.
Behind the profitable business is a warehouse where processes are so organised that the prospect of an unexpected visitor would not cause unease or worry. Much of this is owing to the warehouse racking and storage solutions which are in place and are specifically designed to assist the individual business needs. Having the right systems in place is the key to heightened overall productivity because it simplifies the daily tasks carried out by operatives. An organised structure of storage and racking makes retrieving and replenishing stock very easy, simple and quick resulting in customer expectations being met, and great customer service makes for a lucrative business.
The tell tale signs that it may be time to revise your warehouse racking system
You may have had your warehouse racking system in place for many years and perhaps it’s always worked perfectly well with your operation. Our evolving industries thanks to technology improvements and of course the pandemic has forced most businesses to rethink the way they operate. Consumer habits have undergone huge transformation and this is evident in today’s warehouses as they work to stay in tune with these changes.
An assessment of overall warehouse performance will shed light on whether your current racking and storage systems are still working well for your business. The two most vital indicators are:
- A decline in customer satisfaction
- An increase in costs
These implications are triggered by change which may have resulted in:
- An increase in cost per pallet
- A change in inventory turnover
- Longer lead times
- A rise in return rates
These are key performance indicators (KPIs) and whether just one is affected by change or all, a warehouse racking reconfiguration can make a huge difference.
What is a warehouse racking reconfiguration?
Issues relating to your KPIs don’t necessarily mean you need to replace your entire warehouse racking system. In many cases it simply means restructuring your current warehouse racking systems with adjustments, reposition’s or where viable, the introductions of new systems to either replace or work alongside your current ones. With the right design the restructure can future proof your warehouse to ensure it’s already prepared should there be more changes in further down the line.
Reorganising your storage systems so your warehouse is in tune with change requires a careful assessment of your KPIs to establish the areas where improvement is needed. Understanding which KPIs require improvement will help ensure the right changes are made in the right areas.
A warehouse racking reconfiguration can entail:
Expanding the racking – Prevent your warehouse from being swamped by inventory with nowhere to go. This can often happen if there’s a sudden surge in demand which requires you to increase stock numbers to prevent unavailability. With nowhere to go stock can become disorganised, lost or damaged resulting in unnecessary costs to the business through time, stock replacement and loss of sales. If you’re concern is not having enough floor space to add more racking bays, you could consider building your racking taller. If there’s redundant overhead space, why not use it? Racking can be built as tall at your ceiling allows. If building racks to the maximum height of the space still leaves you short on storage capacity, you could introduce the narrow aisle racking configuration by slimming down the aisle width at the same time as building your racks taller. This can vastly increase storage capacity without any kind of extension to the original footprint surface area.
Another option could be to reduce aisle numbers in favour of more racks. If you currently have standard wide aisle racking in place and a low ceiling, the most cost effect and simplest way to gain more racking is to create double deep racking by implementing more racks and placing them in a back to back configuration. Cantilever racking is easy to expand too simply by placing the racks back to back to increase storage capacity with very little impact on floor space.
Relocating all or some of your racking – There may be situations where the location of specific items in the warehouse is now having a negative effect. Where demand has increased for certain goods, it may be good to move it a better location in order to optimise picking and despatch. A drawn up warehouse layout plan will help you to establish the best location for your inventory so it can be stored in accordance to the change in demand. It’s always wise to keep matching items in close proximity of each other as they are more likely to be picked together and it’s a good idea to store popular items closer to the despatch area. So if certain items are more frequently picked, save time by ensuring they are stored in an area which can be accessed quickly and easily. A good warehouse layout which has been carefully thought out will reduce travel times and simplify the process of replenish and retrieval.
Introducing additional storage solutions – If a new line of product has been introduced and it’s not suited to the storage systems in place, you can integrate new storage systems alongside or instead of your current ones. Both palletised and none palletised items can be stored within the same warehouse space effectively with the right planning and design.
Adjusting your racking – This is particularly easy with certain racking systems including wide aisle racking which is highly adjustable and cost effective making it a very popular solution. The beams can be moved easily to adjust the size of the racking bay so if your needs change, this pallet racking system can accommodate those changes. Likewise the cantilever arms on a cantilever racking system can be moved and fitted into different positions to accommodate a varying size and type of goods that are unsuitable for palletised storage.
Implementing compact racking – This is a real money saver for those that have introduced or increased the volume of temperature controlled inventory. Compact storage can store more items within a limited space because it eliminates the need for numerous aisles. For the cold chamber whose running costs are much higher than ambient storage, the reduction in energy consumption can be significant and a welcomed advantage.
For perishable goods some compact systems offer stock rotation assistance including pallet live racking and drive through racking whilst shuttle racking which is fully automated has the option to switch between the first-in first-out (FIFO) and first-in last-out (FILO) methods. If there’s no essential requirement to rotate stock Drive-in racking, push back racking and mobile racking can maximise storage capacity drastically by utilising up to 90% of your floor space making it ideal if your current storage system isn’t making the most of your space. Compact storage can be used in addition to your current warehouse structures or as a replacement, either way it’s a very effective and sustainable solution that saves space, time and money.
Call on the expertise of WSL’s Design Technicians
As a UK leading storage solutions provider of over thirty years, you can use the knowledge and experience of our Design Technicians to ensure the optimal warehouse racking reconfiguration. Between them their experience spans over one hundred years and this is utilised in every project they lead. After meeting you on site and spending time getting to know your operations and understanding your needs, their time will be spent investigating the most effective solutions within your budget which would enhance your operation. A bespoke design will then be created which can be illustrated by a drawing produced with the assistance of computer assisted drafting so you can visualise your new warehouse racking configuration.
We take care of everything once our plans have been approved including any dismantling and installation works for which we have a highly qualified, professional team.