Supply Chain Enabled

Warehouse design – capacity, layout, throughput and efficiency

Published: November 30, 2020
Author: Lorcan Sheehan

Warehouse design – capacity, layout, throughput and efficiency

For many companies, calendar Q4 represents the peak season focus on physical inventory and warehouse activity.  The challenges in 2020 are exacerbated, not only by changes in business profiles, which is associated with increased eCommerce volumes, but also the need to ensure social distancing within operations.

While now may not be the best time to consider a warehouse redesign, it can nevertheless be the right time to visualise flow pinch points and congestion.  Only then can you  assess whether a future design project could unlock additional capacity and efficiency.

There are some key areas to consider in your walk through at this busy time, whilst remembering that those who are closest to the operations, will have direct insights into their daily challenges.  The top 7 areas to consider are;

1. Racking configuration matched to product size and throughput

    • Is the space being effectively used?
    • Do the pick faces match the storage characteristics, for the products being picked?
    • Are you using full pallet locations to store partial pallets?
    • Should fast moving products be stored in different configurations?

2. Slotting and storage within warehouse to minimise travel

    • Do you have products stored in the correct locations to minimise travel distance while avoiding congestion in busier aisles?
    • How is slotting determined, in order to optimise your put-away and pick efficiency?

3. Non storage capacity – dock doors, receiving, marshalling

    • Working capacity is broader than storage utilisation. It needs to consider doors, receiving areas, equipment utilisation and staffing and shift patterns.
    • In addition, consideration should be given to pickface utilisation, replenishment efficiency, marshalling space, packing and shipping.

4. Health and safety – segregating pedestrian and vehicular traffic

    • Are there clear routes for pedestrian and vehicular traffic flows?
    • Are there sufficient precautions identified to avoid a mixing of these activities?

5. Pick routes and pick strategy matched to profile

    • Are you using an appropriate pick method for the profile of orders?
    • Are pickers picking for a single order or for multiple orders?
    • Should you use a single stage pick or a batch pick and a separate pack operation?

6. Material handling equipment utilisation

    • Are there opportunities to consider automation to reduce travel time and non-value add activities?
    • Does your team have the right conveyance and material handling equipment to support the profile of activity?

7. Are you keeping the right inventory to support your customer and business needs?As with many processes, the data within your supply chain can be used to design and operate more efficient and higher throughput warehouse operations.

Using this available data, PerformanSC can develop warehouse designs.  Through 3D simulation, the client can visualise many configurations to highlight opportunities and deliver improved supply chain performance.

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