Colin Airdrie introduces to you in this video, the key factors that will impact on the optimum warehouse design to meet your warehousing or storage requirements.

“Hello, my name is Colin Airdrie, and one of my main areas of expertise in Logistics and Supply Chain Management is in the field of Warehouse Design. I would like to introduce you to the key factors that will impact on the optimum design required to meet your warehousing or storage requirements.

Four factors should be considered when designing or laying out any storage or distribution facility. Be it a large multi temperatured composite distribution centre servicing a high market network, a spare parts store in a north mobile service centre, or raw materials store supporting a manufacturing operation.

The four basic factors can be easily remembered using the pneumonic FAST or fast standing for:

• F-Flow
• A-Accessibility
• S-space
• T- Throughput

These are not in any order of priority. Each is as important as the other and your aim is to obtain the best compromise of these often conflicting influences. As one factor is considered and altered, each of the other should be revisited to see what is the impact of that change on the whole process.

1. Flow- What we’re looking for here is a logical sequence of operations within the warehouse where each activities located as close as possible to that which precedes it and also the function that follows it. We are concerned with the controlled and uninterrupted movement of materials, people and traffic with, if possible, no cross flow clashes or areas of high traffic or work density. It is also concerned with the awareness of where material is located within the system, and the status and location in the storage and handling equipment and medium. Our aim is to site and position the various warehouse activities in order to contribute to a smooth flow of operations with a minimum amount of movement and disruption.

2. Accessibility – We are not only talking about whether or not we can get to the product. But can we get to the required level of pack? Take the example of bottled water for instance, from major FMC distribution centre we’ll be looking at being able to receive and issue product by the pallet load possibly even by the truck load. So you only need to access full pallets and since it is very fast moving with a fairly long shelf life, strict first in first out by row to individual pallet level need not be followed. At the wholesaler or distributor level, you might be accessing down to case level and then in the convenience store stock room individual bottles. It can go further than this. For pharmaceuticals, accessibility may need to beyond individual item level down to specific lock and batch number. The requirements of levels of accessibility must be achieved especially in the pick base and fast moving stock holding areas with a minimum compromise to the next factor, which is the use of space.

3. Space – When considering how to use the available spac,e the maximum should be allocated to operational storage and stock processing purposes. And the minimum space given up for associated functions such as offices, working areas, empty pallets storage, battery charging, etc. Today’s wide range of storage media available on the market allows us to make optimum use of a cubic capacity of the available space, not just the floor area. As most of these equipment is free standing and requires no structural support from the building itself, it means that the building can be of the simplest and cheapest big box design. It also allows us to build inflexibility to the operation by selecting the storage media to meet the current stock profile and then change it as the operation evolves to meet future requirements. This can be done without expensive and disruptive changes to the actual building. But remember, you still have to consider flow accessibility and now finally:

4. Throughput – When we look at throughput, where not only looking at the categories of product parting through the warehouse but also the nature of the product and its velocity through the flow. By nature, we mean the handling characteristics, dimensions and any other factors that will impact on how it is moved through the flow such as hazard, bulk, fragility, security requirements and compatibility with other products. The velocity of the product will consider the volumes moving through the warehouse on a daily basis. Link lanisis analytic. Pick period activities need to be determined as do minimum activity levels. A high degree of availability of accurate throughput data will assist greatly in the outcome of the design or layout exercise. The better the data and the longest spent on collecting and analysing it, the less the risk, however it is still possible to come up with an acceptable solution when one does not have the luxury of accurate data going back into history. You have to do the best with what is available.

So in summary, when considering your warehouse layout or design, the factors of Flow, Accessibility and Space must be balance to enable the demand to Throughput in terms of volume passing through and the time parameters to be met.”