The layout of your warehouse is the foundation of the efficiency (or lack thereof) in your operations.
From inventory management to order fulfillment, your warehouse layout design will either streamline your business processes or slow them down.
If you need help planning your warehouse layout design, we’ll show you 3 principles of an efficient warehouse layout and 4 tips for getting it done right.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what you’ll need to do to design a functional and effective warehouse.
Principles of an Efficient Warehouse Layout
Before you start designing your warehouse, you should understand what you’re trying to achieve with your warehouse layout design.
Here are 3 major principles to keep in mind when planning your warehouse:
Warehouse flow can be summarized as the uninterrupted movement of materials, people, and traffic within your building.
Your first goal should be to cut down on any areas of high traffic or potential for cross-flow crashes.
So, each activity that an employee performs must be located as close as possible to the activity that precedes it and proceeds from it.
That also means materials used to perform those activities should be situated as close as possible to each workstation.
Your second goal should be to eliminate as much movement and disruption as possible.
Every product and all products on pallets should be accessible by everyone, usually without the need to move one product to get to another.
That means structuring your pallet racks in rows that are wide enough to accommodate pallet jacks and trucks, and stacking and stocking items strategically for minimal interference with one another.
Consider how to maximize the space you can afford, taking into consideration storage, stock, offices, working areas, empty pallet storage, battery charging, etc.
With a wide variety of vertical racks and freestanding equipment, you should be able to design your warehouse in the way you need it initially, while being flexible enough to change it in the future if desired.
Tips on How to Plan a Warehouse Layout Design
Now that you know the basics of what your warehouse needs to achieve, here are a few tips on how to achieve it.
Define Your Objectives
Defining your objectives begins with the principles we outlined above and is carried forward by the specific goals your particular business needs to achieve within your specific industry.
Each business will have different objectives for their warehouse.
Some businesses want to optimize their inventory receiving, while others need more efficient pick and pack processes, and others will design their warehouses for crossdocking.
Regardless of your objectives, make sure that your warehouse design helps you achieve them.
Determine Your Warehouse Inventory Needs
After defining your objectives, you should immediately determine your inventory and storage needs. You need to plan for the amount of stock you intend to store, how big or small that stock will be, where the stock will arrive and where it will depart, etc.
What you’re storing will dictate what you need to store it. This will also inform your aisle space, pallet rack height, and other equipment you’ll need to handle your inventory.
Create an Implementation Plan
Detail all the steps required to create your warehouse layout design.
Group tasks according to projects, i.e. building pallet racks is one project, while buying pallet racking materials is one step within that project.
Allocate appropriate resources to each task and project in your plan.
After you create your plan, double-check everything, especially the time it will take to implement your plan.
Test Your Warehouse Layout Design
Right before you start installing things like pallet racks or shelves or equipment, you should walk your warehouse to make sure it’s ready for everything to be installed.
Use masking tape to outline major work areas and carry things through it, roll pallet jacks around, and get other employees to simulate work at the same time.
This will give you a visual understanding of your space and if it’s optimized or not. Any errors here will result in worse errors later.
What To Do After Warehouse Layout Planning
There are 2 things you should do after warehouse layout planning:
- Implement your plan
- Invest in an inventory management system
The first point is obvious.
We’ll explain the second point.
A well-designed warehouse will help you move everything efficiently.
But it won’t help you avoid stockouts or obsolete inventory.
A well-laid out warehouse may help you with lead time reduction, but it won’t help you with inventory reduction.
If you’d like to do less stocktaking and more selling, then you need a cloud-based inventory management system.
You can find one right here at DEAR Inventory.