Moving into a new warehouse is exciting and yet challenging. Real estate is pricey in most neighbourhoods that are convenient for doing business. The price factor, particularly at the ground level makes it essential to optimise the use of available space. Therefore, space utilisation must be optimal regarding cubic feet rather than square feet. In a warehouse, nearly anything can occupy the vertical space that is available and with some knowledge of pallet racking and planning, the task can be easier than what most people think. There are multiple types of pallet live storage available in and there is no dearth of vendors who undertake a turnkey job. The kind of pallet racking will depend on the type of goods to be stored, a height of the warehouse, moving equipment used and specific attributes or constraints, if any.
My previous experience as a warehouse manager came in very handy in getting my storage organised. Undoubtedly my first thoughts gravitated towards pallet racking because that was the most durable and economical way of optimising vertical storage. With much of the options in pallet racking already available to me, I decided to focus on my specific needs.
My business dealt with steel sections of varying dimensions and weight. Compared to many other products steel was heavier regarding load per cubic feet of space occupied. The floor itself was therefore adequately hardened before I moved in. While planning pallet racking and other forms of vertical storage, many people tend to forget this important factor of weight per square feet of space. When the racks remain fully stocked up for several days, the floor would also be taking the maximum designed load or perhaps even more. Though we do expect inventory to keep moving regularly, there are times when everything may not happen according to our design. What if most stocks remain in the warehouse for over a week? It is one question we must find the answer for a while planning pallet racking in any store.
On looking at my options more closely, I also noticed that one type of pallet racking for all my SKUs might not be the most practical solution. Although most of my stores constituted long sections of steel, I also had at least 25% SKUs which were traditional boxes of varying dimensions and weight. That prompted me to think in terms two different types of pallet racking instead of going for a one size fits all. Yes, if I had to maintain my focus on cubic velocity for all the SKUs I had, I must look at two different pallet racking systems instead of one.
I finally chose cantilever racking and wide aisle racking for my warehouse. This decision was aided by the following factors for the respective types of pallet racking chosen.
I found this system to be very versatile because it offered flexible installation i.e. fixed installation and flexible installation. This system used upright supports housed at the rear end of the installation providing an impressive storage space with zero obstruction. For my steel pipes and sections, I found this to be an ideal solution. Forklifts could also access all materials with a considerable ease because there were no obstructions in the middle. Similarly, the significantly higher weight per SKU was also comfortably accommodated without any challenges. Apart from these benefits, the system also afforded handpicking when necessary. By far, the system addressed all that I needed for storing and retrieving my steel sections, pipes and allied material.
Wide Aisle Racking
After settling the pallet racking system for the steel tubes and parts, now it was time to turn to the other SKUs which needed lesser space per SKU. The answer was full aisle racking. I could also effortlessly use a standard forklift in conjunction with the full aisle racking, and that potentially adds to the productivity. I was also advised to align the top shelf of the wide aisle racking to the height up to which the forklift can reach. That turned out to be a bright idea, and the installation cost was also affordable. As you might have guessed, there was a little compromise on storage density, but that was not a huge concern for me.
The final blueprint showed that all my storage needs could be met in about 1,200 square feet of floor space. I still had about 600 sq ft which I could use to set up a small office and staff room. There was enough room for three people to sit and work and still have a spare cabin for meetings or other needs that came up in the course of business.
Finding the right vendor
When I started sending out my request for a quote to right vendors, I found that all the ground work I did came in very handy. The Vendors had little regarding making suggestions, offering things that I did not want or straying from my particular needs. Some vendors did show signs of unhappiness because they could not have their way with the deal. Finally, I zeroed on two vendors, and everything was set up to start in about a week.
Inspecting similar warehouses did by the vendor
One last thing I was particular was inspecting some of the installations by the vendors I chose. Both of them were happy to take me around and go through this exercise. I noticed certain shortcomings in one of the installations that I visited. That gave me the opportunity to take necessary corrective action and the vendor readily agreed.
The work started the following week and thankfully, the vendor completed the installation in 5 days though we had agreed on seven days excluding the weekend. As things turned out, those bonus days came in very handy, and my new warehouse was operational the following Monday.