Maximise the cube

Space Race

Whether you’re quite happy with the location of your industrial business now but need to improve efficiencies, or you’re considering a move to new premises to take your business to the next level, you need to consider how you can best use the available space to streamline your operation.

The layout of your warehouse can directly impact the smooth running of your business operation. Many business owners find themselves working around physical inefficiencies simply to get work done.

A practical, robust warehouse layout should be your starting point and sometimes, in the quest to get a business up and running, the fundamentals of good design get lost.

Think of your business space as a blank canvas and imagine what it would take to optimise productivity.

There are companies out there specialising in warehouse planning, layout and racking but it could help you to “see” your space more clearly if you physically sketch out – or create via an online programme – a to-scale blueprint, starting with the existing floorplan.

Freeing up floor space can help ease congestion and create better pathways to faster, more cost-effective and sometimes, safer, daily work flows.

Look at how you can go up rather than out to maximise the space available to you taking into account fixed structures (like existing columns and portioned offices) and bearing in mind aisles, access to doors, turning bays etc.

You’ll need to be mindful of the equipment you use regularly and the clear space this requires, your production and workflow zones, and storage areas.

Here’s some tips to help you on your way to a more efficient workplace:

• Consider how thinking in terms of m3 rather than m2 could change up the fundamentals of your industrial space – maximise the cube!

• Know your rack elevations, your pallet heights and the space required to move product – see if there’s a better way to make use of the available space

• Look at vertical space and be creative – room for a mezzanine?

• Look carefully at pallet density options

• Combine different types of storage systems based on the movement of inventory

• The Pareto principle would state that 80% of the activity in a warehouse comes from 20% of the items – always plan for the 20%

• Do you have heaps of “dead stock” – reconsider its role in your business and perhaps free up space for faster moving products

• Is there unused space around your dock door area that could be utilised for storage?

• Could you decrease your aisle widths yet still retain good flow?

• Allow time to plan, order and install any new system – you want to avoid downtime

• If you’re moving to new premises, don’t just assume that your existing fit out can be transferred – question whether you could do things more efficiently

• Plan for growth, seasonal inventory demands, and change of product/service – build in some flexibility

• You’ll need to comply with current building codes and standards so seek professional advice before you undertake any major reconfiguration – fire standards are the key ones to bear in mind here

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