How to Plan Space Requirements in a Warehouse
Warehouse space is rented or leased by the square foot. To lesson the overall operating cost of the warehouse, it is vital that all space be used wisely and efficiently. With careful planning and foresight, it should be possible to maximize the usage of all floor space and lower your operating cost per unit.
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Determine what type of material-handling equipment you will need. This will include forklifts, pallet jacks and operator-up machines. The narrower you can keep the travel isles the more room you will have available for product storage. An operator-up wire guided machine can operate in an isle as narrow as 6 feet. A typical forklift will require more than twice that amount of room to do the same job. Isle width is a critical element in your design and use of the available warehouse space.
Plan out your racking. Begin at one end of the warehouse and space the pallet racking equally, allowing for proper Isle width between each row of racking. Plan for the racking to be as high as your ceilings will allow. Pallet racking can extend to heights of 40 feet of more, allowing you to use the maximum amount of cubic space available within the warehouse. Allow narrow spaces of 6 to 8 inches between pallet racks that will be set back to back. This will help prevent product damage from pallets being set in from the opposite aisle.
Determine the optimum storage size of your product. Determine if it will be stocked in single unit cartons or on full pallets. Take careful measurements and lay out your shelf pattern to match these requirements. Most warehouses have a combination of single carton and pallets. It is important to create the proper number of each. If the wrong number are created, you will either waste labor breaking down pallets to be stored as single cartons or waste space by storing single cartons in pallet-size locations. Set your shelf beams to the proper height on the pallet racking to create the proper number of each size storage area.
Mark off an area to be used as your receiving dock and a second area to be used as your shipping area. If you have the space, it is always best to have these functions done separately to avoid confusion and shipping errors. Depending on your product, you may also need an area for value add (special customer requirements that must be added before shipment) as well as a holding area for future shipments awaiting the proper ship date.