How to Optimize Your Warehouse Space
September 10, 2023
As a warehouse operator, optimizing space is crucial. If you don’t, production can stall, and performance can decrease, costing your company time and money.
Most warehouse operators follow the 70/30 rule to organize their warehouses. Under this model, 70% of the warehouse floor is used for storage, and the other 30% is used for movement and work. When operators completely fill the space meant for storage, optimizing space becomes a pressing issue.
Effectively maximizing space in a warehouse can be complicated. If you are not sure how to optimize your warehouse space, this short guide will show you the basics.
Why Does Optimizing Space Matter?
One of the biggest issues that occurs when a warehouse is not maximized is congestion. To access an item, warehouse employees may have to move another item, leading to efficiency issues and unneeded strain on workers’ bodies. If items aren’t stacked, they may end up in the aisles, creating a safety hazard.
Maximizing your warehouse will limit congestion and lead to many other benefits. Some of the benefits of a maximized warehouse are:
- Improved inventory management: Maximized warehouses allow for efficient inventory practices, making it easier to fulfill orders promptly and minimize costs.
- Reduced costs: Maximizing your warehouse leads to less inefficient practices that can cause shipment errors, inaccurate inventory counts and other mistakes, reducing costs.
- Safer conditions: Running a warehouse requires operating heavy equipment. If there is not enough room to safely operate these tools, there could be an accident, risking employees’ safety. When a warehouse is optimized and there is enough room for equipment to run and workers to do their jobs, the risk of accidents decreases.
Why Do Warehouses Run Out of Space?
Even the largest warehouses can run out of space. The most common reasons warehouses lack space include:
- Customers buy inventory rapidly, meaning you need to keep your warehouse constantly stocked with inventory.
- Your purchasing department buys too much of something and can’t offload it quickly enough.
- You have dead inventory, which happens when people don’t buy specific items you stock.
How to Improve Warehouse Efficiency
There is no “one size fits all” solution for maximizing a warehouse. You will need to wade through the possible options and find the solution that best fits your warehouse’s needs. Here are some possible ways you can make the most of your warehouse:
1. Vertically Extend Your Racks
Extending your storage racks up is one of the first solutions that comes to mind when approaching storage issues. If you decide to go this route, there are a few factors to consider. To begin, do your racks have a base rack large enough to support a rack extension? If you are not sure, consult a structural engineer.
The next thing to consider is what kind of rack will work best for your warehouse. Here are some of the most popular storage rack options:
- Pallet racks: As one of the most common storage options for certain industries, there is a large chance that your warehouse is already full of these racks. These racks are lined with multiple horizontal shelves. If you have a variety of inventory types, these racks paired with a forklift are an effective combination for maximizing storage space.
- Carton flow racks: These racks have slanted panels engineered to push down older inventory. If you have a “first in, first out” inventory process, these racks may be perfect for you.
- Cantilever racks: These racks have long, perturbing arms to store inventory. These racks are ideal for storing long inventory, such as piping or lumber.
- Mezzanines: A mezzanine is a tool that adds an extra level to your storage area.
2. Reduce the Space Between Aisles
As you are looking for ways to maximize your warehouse, ask yourself if you can reduce the space between your aisles. While your aisles may be 10 to 12 feet wide, you might be able to reduce them to 5 to 8 feet wide. If you can, you can save 15%-20% of the area.
When reducing aisle space, you must consider the size of your heavy equipment and whether the aisle will be large enough to operate the equipment.
3. Use Multiple Sizes of Storage Containers
Many warehouses use storage bins to hold unpackaged inventory. If you use the same size bin to store every item, storage containers may end up wasting space. Not all items are the same in size or quantity, so your bins should not be the same size, either.
You can maximize space by upgrading your storage bins. Purchase a variety of storage bins, sort your inventory by size, and put the items in the properly sized storage bins. Create a section of your storage racks for smaller bins and another section for larger bins.
4. Limit the Amount of Obsolete Inventory
Space in your warehouse is valuable. When you store items that are no longer needed, you’re sacrificing space and costing your company money. To maximize space, go through your warehouse and see what items aren’t moving. If it’s an item that is obsolete, you can sell it at a discount, donate it, or try to return it to the vendor.
5. Upgrade Your Software
Rather than using a spreadsheet to keep track of your inventory and foreshadow your warehouse needs, consider upgrading to warehouse management software (WMS). Tracking data with WMS software will allow you to see how much inventory your warehouse holds so you can order inventory accordingly.
Improve Warehouse Efficiency and Optimize Space Today
Using the right combination of warehouse optimization solutions and equipment can ensure you build and maintain an efficient warehouse space. Together, services from PeakLogix and equipment from YIT work to help clients operate successful, streamlined warehouse spaces.
For decades, PeakLogix has helped companies reduce facility costs and improve productivity. With thousands of successful projects completed, PeakLogix has partnered with companies in a wide variety of industries to make their warehouses more efficient. PeakLogix offers numerous solutions for warehouse optimization, ranging from warehouse design to project management to equipment solutions.
YIT supplies numerous new and pre-owned heavy equipment options to help warehouses run more smoothly. Whether you’re interested in forklifts, order picking equipment or another type of machinery, YIT can help you choose the best models for your business needs. Additionally, we offer quality rental equipment and equipment repair services.