Warehouse Space Utilization & Optimization Techniques: Space Saving Ideas to Prevent Off-Site Storage
October 30, 2023
If you have a pretty good handle on the status of your existing inventory and have done a good job with slotting the overall management of space allocation per SKU as well as managing the rotation of stock in the warehouse, you may still be pressed for needing some additional space from time to time. If that’s the case, you are probably looking for some space saving ideas that might prevent you from having to use off-site storage solutions.
While off-site storage can provide a great benefit, that benefit does come at a cost you do not typically want to become dependent on, as it can oftentimes become a dumping ground and then just eventually an accepted part of the business.
Some things to consider include examining space in the warehouse not being used to store the products you distribute, look in the air for unused space, reclaim space in the aisles and think about automation. Here are some suggestions on how you might go about evaluating each of these areas.
Short-Term Warehouse Space Optimization Ideas
Take a close look at where and how you are currently managing things like pallets, warehouse supplies and maintenance items. If you are using space that could be used for storing product, consider looking for other areas in the warehouse where you may be able to relocate these items and use other space that is not as practical for storing the product you are distributing.
Add Racks or Storage Units to Battery Charging Stations & Dock Door Walls
Look in the air above these areas, and if you find unused space, consider adding racking or storage units to the walls so this space can be leveraged. This space may not be ideal for storing the product you distribute; however, it could be ideal for storing other materials and supplies.
Add Mezzanine to Maintenance Areas
Again, look in the air above these areas as they may be prime candidates for adding a mezzanine, which, depending on the size of the area, can enable a significant amount of storage.
If not already being used, the bulkheads at the end of the aisles can be opened up for storage on an as needed basis. This could be done by defining floor locations or possibly adding some racking at the bulkhead to enable multiple levels of storage.
While certainly not ideal and not something you want to do on a permanent basis, being able to open up floor space in the aisles can also give some relief, but you do not want to do this long term if you can avoid it.
Long-Term Warehouse Space Optimization Ideas
Identify any areas in the warehouse that are not currently being used to store products that could become candidates for new storage space.
Optimize Existing Storage Units
If you have areas of the warehouse where the existing storage units leave open space in the air above, consider adding mezzanine to enable use of the space.
Examine the width of your aisles in the warehouse and consider reclaiming some of that space. In some cases, you may be able to narrow the aisles and continue using your existing equipment to work in those areas and claim back a reasonable amount of space.
A more aggressive consideration would be to move to narrow aisles and acquire narrow aisle trucks that can effectively operate in a narrow aisle environment. In doing this you will likely also want to incorporate the use of ‘Pick-up and Delivery Stations / Drop Points’. This approach can reclaim a tremendous amount of warehouse space in some environments.
In some operations, it may also be prudent to evaluate the incorporation of conveyors, carousels and automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).
Other Ideas for Adding Warehouse Storage Space
At times, the use of off-site storage can be the right solution, and in a growing business, at some point, most distributors will also be faced with the need to add more space. When that time arrives, it is a matter of considering adding on to the existing structure, leasing additional space in the same building or industrial area, adding another warehouse or possibly looking at other outsourced options.
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