Planning a warehouse's layout should be done before designing and installation. Although this may seem so simple, it’s more difficult to figure out in practice. There are several basic principles that apply to warehouse layout design and running an effective distribution center operation. Without proper layout and design, you will be facing capacity issues, decrease in productivity, and storage inadequacies. In this article, main factors that need to be considered in the design process of a warehouse will be outlined. Here is a short list of layout design requirements for main areas of warehouse operation.
Main areas of a warehouse can be classified into goods in and goods out areas, packaging and dispatching areas, main storage area, order picking area and loading and unloading areas.
In the goods in and goods out area and packaging areas, checking for correct goods, grade, package, quantity and damage or shortages is important. For distribution, a well-designed pack station is recommended. In the packaging area, all of the required materials must be available so that adequate workspace for them should be provided.
Avoid unnecessary congestion or overcrowding in the distribution center and minimize travel walking time since more than half of the total labor time you pay for in the distribution center is spent walking. Effective layout and slotting processes can help reduce walking time. Use conveyors for horizontal transport of product, and select the conveyer based on the size and weight of the product and the throughput volume. The time lost due to overcrowding or congestion is significant. All the vehicle dispatching should be in schedules.
For main storage, ensure that vertical space as well as individual location cubic capacity is fully utilized. Make sure that, goods are in location to control function. Maximize cube as well as ground level square feet and also maintain flexibility in the operation with a scalable layout. Keep about 10% of locations open and available.
Plan for unknown future changes to the business is a necessity to avoid unnecessary costs. Provide adequate accumulation and storage space on docks. Make sure to have enough dock doors because the impact of not having enough doors is large. So, invest to make sure you are not slowing down the operation.
Order picking areas which are places for preparing to integrate the orders into storage areas, are not required in all warehouses. You can create picking areas, generally with automated or semi-automated systems.
Loading and unloading areas are usually outside the warehouse. However, these areas can either be integrated into the warehouse. The advantage of building loading and unloading areas directly into the sides of the warehouse is the greater load handling speed and suitable for some goods. For instance, it reduces cold loss in cold chambers.
If the loading and unloading areas are located away from the warehouse but within the surrounding area, operation can be completed independently of the warehouse itself. Trucks can be parked in prefer positions so that they can be loaded or unloaded using forklift trucks.