A recent article about the projected growth of the pallet rack market led us to wonder what makes pallet racking so useful in terms of the successful running of a warehouse. For those with little experience of the need for an efficiently run warehouse, pallet or warehouse racking systems might mean absolutely nothing. But for those in the industry, this ingenious storage solution has made inventory picking much quicker and easier.
The Importance of Pallet Racking
When it comes to warehouses, pallet racks are essential support structures that provide the backbone of the entire building. As Oregon-based racking specialist Speedrack West points out, pallet racking is essential to the smooth running of any warehouse operation.
A good warehouse racking system ensures that the use of available space is maximized, and that products or other items can be organized effectively for ease of use. As pallet racking makes use of vertical space, it allows for more inventory to be stored. And by suing forklifts and pallet jacks, stock can be quickly and easily accessed by warehouse operators.
While the pallet rack is an essential part of warehouse operations, it is not the only one. You could have the best racking system in the world, but it will do you no good if it is not laid out properly. Planning the warehouse layout is vital and failure to do so correctly can result in decreased productivity.
For example, not including cross aisles in the warehouse can mean inadvertently increasing the time staff take to pick through items for shipping or other reasons. If said staff are having to traverse from one end of the warehouse to the other through long aisles as they pick orders, they will take much longer to get their order to the packing station. Cross aisles not only allow for greater freedom of movement but have also been shown to increase picking times and productivity.
Efficient operations also mean thinking about the floor plan of the warehouse and where critical areas are placed. It is crucial to have a good flow of movement in the space, so placing packing close to the receiving area is probably not the best idea. The warehouse manager’s office should also be placed in a strategic area so that he or she can oversee all operations more effectively.
Get to Know Your Inventory Better
Insofar as stock inventory is concerned, it pays to know it inside out. For example, you should really know what your high and low flow products are and place them accordingly in the warehouse. Products that are in high demand will obviously have a higher turnover and should therefore be placed closer to the packing area for quick retrieval.
Give Space Where it is Needed
There is a temptation among warehouse managers and business owners to fill all available space with pallet racking so that they can accommodate more products. Nevertheless, it is important that sufficient space is allocated to the areas where it is needed the most. According to managing partner of The Distribution Team Jason Bader in his article Tips for Laying Out a New Warehouse, receiving areas should be supersized.
He explained that the receiving area is the one area where maximum space is an absolute necessity as it is here that much of the work is done and here where one error could lead to ten more. He said, “When we force the team to work in cramped quarters, mistakes will occur.”
Implementing these tips in optimizing your warehouse space means that you should be able to get the most from your operations.