There’s no doubt at all that a lack of warehouse space will impact your supply chain performance.
Indeed, if any of your company’s warehouses are running at more than 85% to 90% of their total capacity, you’re probably finding it hard to operate them efficiently.
When pallet storage starts spilling into aisles and operating areas though, you don’t necessarily need to start looking for a larger shed, although more often than not, that’s exactly how warehouse operators choose to react.
Take Another Look Inside Your Warehouse
Before incurring the considerable expense involved in a warehouse move, you might want to evaluate some other options, which in our experience can often add enough capacity in an existing facility to avoid the need for warehouse relocation.
After all, unless your storage needs have increased massively, a larger warehouse may actually reduce cost efficiencies in your logistics operation, especially if all the extra capacity is under-utilised.
The location of the new warehouse may also impact your supply chain costs if it’s not situated close to your old facility. So before deciding to move, take another look inside your warehouse—perhaps with the help of external specialists— and ask yourself if there’s a better way to gain extra cubic capacity.
Possible Solutions to Increase Usable Warehouse Capacity
Your options for solving warehouse capacity problems will depend on many factors, such as the shape, size, age, and design of your facility, as well as the nature of your operation and stored inventory.
This is where it can be useful to engage a warehouse design specialist or logistics consulting firm to help you explore the possibilities.
As a supply chain leader or operational manager, you might handle a warehouse capacity issues a few times in your career, but warehouse design experts do so on a continuous basis, and can really help you evaluate all possible options to gain capacity.
Still, if you want a few ideas to try, you can certainly look into any of the following potential solutions for reducing warehouse constraints:
Reduce Aisle Width:
It’s often possible to gain pallet slots in a warehouse by changing from traditional aisle widths of 3.3 to 3.6 metres to narrow aisles (between 2.5 and 3 metres). This can typically increase overall warehouse capacity by as much as 30%, although standard reach trucks may need to be replaced with MHE specially designed to work in narrow aisles.
Change Your Storage Media:
Instead of reducing aisle width (or in addition to doing so) you could invest in racking or shelving designed to increase storage density.
Most warehouses use single deep racking, but you may be able to increase density by changing to double deep, push-back, flow-through or drive-in racks, all of which reduce the number of aisles needed for storage and retrieval of pallets.
Fewer aisles of course, means more space devoted to storage—perhaps enough to remove the need for a larger facility.
Add Another Floor:
Depending on the design of your warehouse and the types of inventory you carry, it may even be possible to add one or more mezzanine floors to your warehouse.
Although this method can make excellent use of vertical space which might otherwise hold nothing but air, it involves more investment than the other options covered here, and might even require structural improvements to the warehouse itself.
Even so, if you think you can gain enough warehouse capacity through the use of mezzanine shelving, it may well be more affordable and realistic than moving to a larger facility.
Warehouse Utilisation: It’s a Supply Chain Performance Lever
If your warehouse is getting over-full, moving to a more spacious facility might not be the ideal solution. It’s surprising how much extra volume you can gain from less drastic measures. The more efficiently you can utilise the warehouse capacity you have, the better will be your supply chain performance.
At the Logistics Bureau Executive Breakfast coming up on August 10th, 15th, and 17th, we’ll be sharing more tips for resolving warehouse capacity constraints, and discussing a number of other supply chain performance levers.
Of course, if you’re already committed to making better use of your warehouse facilities, you might not want to wait until August to learn more. You could just contact Logistics bureau right now, and we’ll help you get more into your warehouse—and more out of your supply chain.