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Posted by Stephanie on March 18, 2024

Creating the proper warehouse layout is essential to organizing, managing, and storing goods properly. If your facility has an efficient layout, your personnel will save time finding inventory, moving through aisles, and getting packages on a truck. An inefficient design leads to lower productivity and higher operating costs. If your customers don’t receive their packages promptly, they may choose to do business with a more reliable company.

Warehouse operations are continuously evolving. Many businesses are shifting to an eCommerce focus, which can lead to a much higher volume of orders. Warehouses need to adapt by removing any potential hindrances from their supply chains, which often means improving the facility’s layout. The perfect warehouse layout depends on your company’s specific needs. However, you can identify the best design by prioritizing safety, optimizing productivity, and maximizing space. The following guide explores the concept of customizing in a warehouse layout.

warehouse with docks

Understanding the Concept of Customizing in a Warehouse Layout

Your warehouse can take advantage of a variety of layouts. To boost efficiency and productivity in your warehouse, it’s essential to focus on customization when designing your layout. Customization is a process that involves modifying your warehouse to suit your company’s needs. Today, warehouses aren’t just used for storage and inventory purposes, so customization is essential.

Retail and eCommerce companies are being tasked with scaling their operations to meet consumer demands. By customizing your warehouse and its layout, you should be able to speed up your delivery processes and save money. Many modern technologies, including everything from warehouse robots to automation software, can help you customize your facility.

You can also use modern warehousing software to customize your layout and detect existing inefficiencies. For example, let’s say the software you’re using finds a bottleneck in the picking department. Some of the items in your inventory may be more challenging to reach. Technology and software are essential if you want to customize your warehouse layout effectively.

Key Factors Influencing Warehouse Customization

Modern consumers usually order multiple products in a single package, so inventory variability has become crucial. However, this can also be challenging to accommodate in a warehouse. Your warehouse needs to be able to store diverse product types and sizes logically.

To correctly manage variable inventory in your warehouse, create a robust categorization and classification system that makes retrieval processes more efficient. Consider using the ABC analysis strategy, which categorizes items into three classes based on their importance.

Class A items are more valuable and popular than the rest. However, they often make up a small percentage of the entire inventory. Class B items aren’t as important but still affect the inventory’s total value. Class C products are the least important in your warehouse. They have a much lower value than the rest. Once items have been properly categorized, you should find it easier to customize your layout and reduce costs.

You can also use different types of storage systems to accommodate diverse product sizes. For example, high-density storage solutions and mezzanines help you maximize warehouse height. Pickers also need to be able to access fast-moving items quickly. Some of the other solutions available for inventory variability include RFID tags, automated inventory management systems, and adjustable shelves.

warehouse workers

Order Fulfillment Dynamics

Planning the proper picking workflow is crucial to ensure your warehouse is efficient and accurate. Slow picking and packing processes can hurt order accuracy and damage your company’s reputation. When customizing your warehouse layout, focus on streamlining order fulfillment. As touched upon previously, popular items that pickers need to obtain regularly should be placed at the front of your inventory. However, the specific picking strategy you use depends on the types of products you store and your warehouse size.

For example, you may benefit from batch picking, which requires everyone to work on the same orders in batches. This strategy is helpful for companies that need to complete many identical orders. Zone picking is done by placing selectors in an area of the warehouse to pick a single order at a time from that location. If more products are needed from another zone, they can be obtained from a conveyor belt.

E-commerce companies often benefit the most from wave picking, which combines the zone’s best aspects with batch strategies. While pickers stay within a specific zone, they can pick multiple orders simultaneously. This technique is ideal for warehouses that handle many different SKUs.

Technology Integration

Technology integration is essential for the modern warehouse. Automation and robotics can be helpful when customizing your facility’s layout. For example, you can use automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) or warehouse management systems (WMS) to improve design and streamline operations.

When implementing a WMS, you can track your inventory in real-time, which allows you to identify aspects of your layout that can be improved with further customization. Many robust software solutions offer dynamic layout adjustments. The primary solutions at your disposal include Icograms and SmartDraw. Both pieces of software allow you to visualize your warehouse layout and customize it to meet your specific requirements.

Standing desk

Benefits of Customizing Warehouse Layouts

There are many reasons why your company should customize its warehouse layout. An efficient layout should immediately improve operational efficiency, which may help reduce costs. Keep in mind that a poorly designed layout can reduce productivity, cause more accidents, and damage inventory.

You’ll get a boost to operational efficiency from less travel time for your personnel and better space optimization. When the most popular items are more accessible to pick and pack, your employees won’t need to spend as much time preparing orders for shipment. If you optimize space utilization, you can store a higher volume of orders and scale more effectively.

Enhanced Employee Productivity

Employees are also more productive when they perform their duties in a worker-friendly space. Ergonomics is a crucial element of warehouse design that allows you to prioritize the well-being and health of your workers. By implementing an ergonomic design that accommodates employee limitations, you should reduce the possibility of injuries.

If your warehouse has adaptable layouts, consider training your employees to navigate the space efficiently. By cultivating an ergonomic design, you should notice fewer employee injuries, higher productivity, and better operational efficiency.

Scalability and Future-Proofing

Modern warehouses are tasked with adapting to changing business needs. It’s challenging to know when your company needs to scale. While consumer needs can fluctuate, demand for goods and services has consistently increased across many industries over the past five years.

To future-proof your warehouse and accommodate scalability, installing a high-quality shelving system is a good idea. Multi-tier shelving and pallet racking are two examples of scalable and adjustable shelving. By incorporating flexibility into your warehouse operations, you should be ready for future growth.

Warehouse with Steel Shelving, Bins, and Pallet Rackiing

Challenges and Considerations

Before customizing your warehouse’s layout, you must consider some challenges and considerations. For example, you’ll need to balance customization with cost-effectiveness. Integrating numerous technologies into your facility can be expensive. You can keep costs down by installing only a few essential technologies.

When your warehouse changes its layout, there’s also the potential for disruptions. You can mitigate these disruptions by customizing one area at a time. For example, customize the picking area before moving to the shipping area.

It would be best to contend with employee adaptation and training challenges. If your personnel have used a specific warehouse layout for years, it may be difficult for some to acclimate to the changes. Train your employees in batches to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

Best Practices for Implementing Customizable Warehouse Layouts

When implementing a customizable layout in your facility, you should adhere to some best practices. For example, take a collaborative approach with stakeholders. Make sure the managers and leadership have a say in the design.

It’s also highly recommended that you use analytics and data to make informed decisions. Any layout changes you make should be based on verifiable data. Once you’ve implemented a customizable layout, make regular assessments and adjustments based on operational feedback. Your design should always be smooth.

Conclusion

To ensure your warehouse can meet the demands of modern consumers, optimize operations by designing a customizable layout. Consider installing inventory management technology, placing essential items in easy-to-access areas, and using shelving solutions accommodating scalability.

Warehouse layouts that are made with customization in mind should be able to scale without issue. Take a proactive approach to warehouse optimization by regularly assessing areas where you can improve. In the coming decade, warehouse customization promises to be essential to meeting the demands of a dynamic business landscape.

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