Inventory space that has continuously gotten smaller over time can result in a host of problems for your organization. Possible issues range from increased risk of damage to your products or employees to decreased productivity. However, in some instances, expansion is not an option. The good news is there are a few steps you can take to utilize the storage space of your warehouse to ensure your organization is operating efficiently.
Utilizing Vertical Space
As you’re standing in your warehouse, look up! Do you have an ample amount of empty space between your ceiling and current racking system? If your answer is yes, then your first step for maximizing space starts here. Be aware of the fire suppression system your warehouse has installed. The distances in which you can store products from these systems can vary, so you should contact your local building department for direction.
Mezzanines are another option for utilizing the vertical space of your warehouse. A mezzanine will allow you to pick up a second level of storage that can be used in a myriad of ways including:
- Bulk storage
- Small parts storage
- Process areas
- General workstations
- Value-added service areas
When taking advantage of your vertical space, you’ll want to purchase either a lift truck access conveyor or vertical reciprocating conveyor. These systems will allow you to take pallet loads to the higher levels of your warehouse seamlessly and improve efficiency.
Often times warehouse aisles are initially designed to accommodate conventional lift trucks. These trucks require quite a bit of aisle space, 11ft for example, and occupy vital inventory space as a result. The solution is to narrow your aisles and adopt narrow aisle lift trucks. Narrow aisle lift trucks can use aisles as small as 60 to 72 inches wide, meaning you’ll be able to pick up a 25-30% sq foot space increase in your existing building. If this is the route you choose to take, be mindful of employee safety. Add mirrors and other precautions so that you are not knocking into other vehicles or your personnel.
Chances are your warehouse is currently operating with a selective pallet racking system in place. There are alternative storage methods you can implement however to optimize your warehouse space.
Double Deep Pallet Rack
Double deep pallet racking systems use 11 foot aisles but include a double deep access system. This is achieved by placing two sections of pallet rack back to back, effectively increasing storage capacity while maintaining one access aisle.
Push Back Racking
Push back pallet racking is an alternative method that is continuing to grow in popularity. This system can go two to six pallets deep and uses the first in, last out product flow system in any given lane. Push back pallet racks tend to give building owners/operators more flexibility than others.
Pallet Flow Rack
Pallet flow racking differs from pushback racking in the sense that it utilized the first in, first out methodology. As a result, this type of pallet racking system is considered ideal for the food industry.
Ultimately, there are a variety of techniques you can implement in your warehouse to increase space that does not include an expansion. Pay attention to your specific operational requirements and work with a material handling expert to find the best solution for you.
Have you gone through a warehouse maximization process? Share your experience in the comments.
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