GCL Group
Logistics & Supply Chain Consulting

Warehouse Layout Optimization: Some basics steps

Warehouse Layout Optimization: Some basics steps

Warehouse Layout Optimization: Some basics steps


The goal of warehouse layout design is to optimize your warehousing functions and achieve maximum efficiency and space utilization. A warehouse is typically divided into areas to support your every day processes. These areas include: reserve storage, forward pick, cross docking, shipping, receiving, assembly/special handling lines, and quality/inspection area. Designing a new facility starts with analyzing your current and projected data on the activities in each of these areas, including the receiving, shipping and inventory levels. This data should be supported by other considerations such as process flows, material handling equipment, type and styles of racking equipment, special handling requirements, and personnel. Whether your warehouse is brand new or decades old, consider these layout techniques.

1 – Review global layout efficiency

It’s always been like this and to complicate to change. This is the common comments. Start looking at the global warehouse configuration and think of those 3 basic points: space utilization, productivity and global operation control & management. Look at opportunity to change considering those points: aisle orientation, product flow, incoming and outgoing operation, location of services area (employee access, building services, working area (repack etc)), fix equipment location (stretch wrap, scale, packing tables, etc). Look at measuring productivity per sector or operation and evaluate time consumption and finally review your WMS performance.

2 – Review your aisle width

It’s commonly believed that aisles 11 feet wide are safest for forklift operation, but there are other configuration that merit considerations. “Forklifts come in different styles, and sit-down, counterbalanced forklifts are built to handle 3,500 pounds or more,” for exemple, wire-guided vehicles allow you to safely cut aisle widths to 5 feet.

3 – Analyse your product velocity

A common organizational misstep is to group similar products together. “That’s not necessarily best practice. You want to lay out your warehouse based on product velocity. Put your fast movers – your A, B and C products – as close to the shipping lanes as possible to eliminate steps and move products faster.”

4 – Consider and measure travel time

Some companies believe that more space means better storage, but that’s not always the case. On average, 55 percent of an employee’s time is spent traveling on foot or by forklift, so they were doubling or even tripling their travel time. Depending on the size of the warehouse, the work performed and the way items are found, managers should consider instituting a method of measuring travel within the warehouse, which will identify areas for improvement. Reducing travel time leads to improved productivity in getting orders out faster and more efficiently without overtaxing your labor force.

5 – Watch for dust and honeycombs

Cut excess space by identifying products that are gathering dust. It would be cheaper to take the outdated or unsold product out back and light it on fire than to keep it in the warehouse as inventory. Also look for “honeycombs,” or the gaps and empty spaces on the shelves behind, above or alongside products.

Consider the payoff

Rethinking racking layouts, aisle space and honeycombs can help businesses find 15 to 18 percent more space. Positioning products according to velocity and getting rid of slow movers not only will lead to more storage capacity but will also improve a company’s productivity and bottom line.

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