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How to design your warehouse for maximum profit

By: Grant King, IndustrySearch Writer
25 February, 2016

It pays to make time for ‘time in motion.’ In other words, spend the time it takes now to organise your warehouse into an exemplary ‘time in motion’ study and you’ll soon reap the rewards.

Here are some tips to get your warehouse in the fiscal fast lane.

Align your stars at the front

If your warehouse layout is basically a rectangle with your packing and inwards/outwards goods at one end, all your fastest sellers should be stored at the same end. Then work your way through your inventory storing according to sales levels until your slowest lines are at the back.

Design for automation

Today's warehouses are operating in a virtual world of eCommerce where order sizes are generally smaller and expected delivery times are positively miniscule. Customers expect it 'now' not when your local delivery contractor backs his truck into your dock around about Thursday. Orders need to be picked, packed and despatched at lightning speed to keep pace with market demands. That means automation. It means less feet on the ground and more bums on automated seats as your warehouse puts wheels in motion to minimise order processing times. And It means designing your layout to accommodate large or small materials handling equipment depending on your size and expected growth.

Store by numbers

Most distribution software uses bin location numbers and your warehouse should too. Again, in an age of dashing cyber deliveries it’s not okay for a novice warehouse worker to wander the length and breadth of your warehouse floor looking for an ordered item. Even if your inventory is stored by product line, new people will take weeks to even get up to dial up modem speed. So organise all your storage racks into a grid and number each row in sequence bin by bin. These bin numbers can then be entered into your system for easy location and picking.

Bar pens and keyboards

Replace all of them with bar codes. Seriously, any warehouse still manually entering orders with pens or laboriously tapping product numbers into keyboards time after time is a slow motion disaster. If you have 1000 product lines and it takes 10 seconds to process just one item to outwards goods, you’re wasting spectacular amounts of time and money on a daily basis. And each day you’re one day closer to falling irreversibly behind your competitors. Bar codes are instant; one swipe, done, next item. And while the initial cost to set up a bar code system across your entire operation isn’t small, drastically reduced processing times and labour costs will soon make up for it. If you can process even ten times as many orders per day, your business will be on the road to a bar code boom.