Warehouses are expensive. Every square inch of space costs money and time to manage. Unfortunately, no business enjoys an abundance of both and, in most cases, a warehouse that is smaller than the capacity required is opted since it helps reduce the total carrying cost of inventory.
The good news is, it is possible to operate smoothly with a warehouse that cannot store the entire inventory. While expanding the warehouse physically may not be feasible, it is always possible to optimize the existing space by employing some creative strategies.
A planogram is a diagram that shows how the warehouse floor layout is earmarked for specific pallets, racks or SKUs. Most warehouse planograms are designed before the warehouse is initially occupied. But since then, inventory volume, SKU sizes and a variety of storage requirements may have undergone many changes.
The end result is cluttered storage which could be making your warehouse feel short of storage capacity and causing operational inefficiencies. Tweaking the warehouse planogram to meet the quantity and bin size of current SKUs will help you maximize your warehouse space and productivity.
Minimum, maximum and average stock levels are used to ensure optimal inventory management. Proper inventory management and warehouse space maximization go hand-in-hand. Stock levels help you identify SKUs that are being hoarded beyond their average requirement rate. The excess stock stored translates into more warehouse ground space being consumed.
Now imagine a large chunk of this excess stock turning into slow-moving or non-moving stock? They could sit for a long time, occupying precious warehouse space. So, calculating stock levels and storing optimum levels of inventory is a must to maximize your warehouse space.
While you cannot increase the floor space of your warehouse, it is often possible to expand storage capacity vertically. Vertical racks that can be moved around like modular blocks help in ramping up your warehouse storage capacity vertically.
These vertical racks or pallets can be used to store light-weight or non-fragile goods which otherwise occupy a sizable portion of your warehouse floor area. Slow moving or seasonal goods that experience demand only during specific periods can also be moved to vertical space to save ground space. An added advantage is that this storage method reduces the pickup time of fast moving goods by at least 25%.
Similarly, you can also try mezzanine floors which help double your inventory space by adding one more layer of floor area to your warehouse. Mezzanine is best suited for your warehouse if you are dealing in quick moving goods with lower density.
The space between warehouse aisles facilitates quick picking and prevents damage to inventory. But it’s important to determine the optimal amount of space between aisles as either too little or too much space will hamper efficiency.
You can even consider replacing broad aisles with narrow ones that can hold the same inventory but within minimal space. The space saved from putting few aisles together may be enough to accommodate an additional aisle.
Random/Chaotic storage is the exact opposite of an organized warehouse system. In fact, Amazon uses chaotic storage to sustain its order fulfillment rates without having to increase warehouse space.
Under chaotic storage, the warehouse does not have an organic storage system where SKUs are stored permanently. The goods are placed into closest available storage locations as they come in. This provides pickers maximum flexibility and agility in picking goods. Also, it works perfectly for similar goods that are sold in high numbers. The stock count is maintained with the help of an integrated database which collects real-time inventory from pickers using their RFID devices.
Chaotic storage helps use maximum storage space in your warehouse since every available inch is filled with a new load of inventory. However, this method will succeed only if there is proper planning of inventory levels. Otherwise, the risk of deadstock piling up is higher.
Warehouse space is limited. It cannot be expanded beyond certain physical limits without significant capitol investment. When that is not feasible, these space-expanding alternatives may be the solution.
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