If your business model involves storing your inventory in a warehouse, the layout of your warehouse has a direct impact on your workflow, operational efficiency and profits margins. A well-designed layout can speed up your workflow, reduce your labor costs, improve your security and make inventory management easier. On the other hand, a poorly designed layout can waste your time locating items, add to your labor expenses, promote shrinkage and increase the labor of taking inventory counts. Here are four keys to designing a layout that helps keep your warehouse manageable.
Map Your Space Utilization Plan
The first step toward creating an efficient warehouse plan is to map out a blueprint of your layout, says FitSmallBusiness.com. This allows you to visualize where everything will go so you can explore different options and select the most efficient design. You can draw your blueprint by hand using graph paper, by using a generic graphics program such as Photoshop or by using a specialized floor plan drawing program such as AutoCAD Architecture, SmartDraw or Floorplanner.
Using whatever method you select, you can create your map by taking measurements of your warehouse space, making a note of any fixed items such as columns, installed storage equipment, doors or office space that juts out into the warehouse. Taking accurate measurements will help ensure that you don’t run into any problems with tight spaces when you start installing items such as shelving or workstations.
Optimize Your Picking System
Mapping your warehouse space helps you design an optimized picking system to save time and cut costs. The first key to an optimized picking system is to assign different locations for different SKU numbers to avoid wasted time searching bins, says Supply Chain 24/7. Store items that get picked more frequently closer to the ground, saving higher storage areas for items that get picked less frequently.
Anything that saves your warehouse workers steps or motions can save you additional picking time. Place your most frequently picked items in adjacent bins in the same part of your warehouse rather than spread out in different areas. Find ways for workers to combine multiple picking trips into one trip. Store your high-demand items in media that make them quickly accessible, such as pallet racks, saving less accessible storage media for lower-demand items.
Set Up Your Warehouse Security System
Security should be part of your warehouse layout planning. A good security system is important for protecting your inventory from shrinkage due to employee theft. Security cameras can also help you identify suspects and recover property in the event of a burglary. Additionally, analyzing security footage can be useful for studying your workers’ picking patterns and identifying more efficient pick paths.
Today’s best security camera systems use advanced technology such as high definition and 4K Ultra HD with night vision, which can allow you to capture crucial suspect-identifying details such as hair color even in low-light conditions. Security camera systems also use motion detectors to tell you when a perimeter is breached. For maximum protection, position security systems to monitor both the outer perimeter surrounding your warehouse as well as key points in your warehouse itself.
Integrate Your Warehousing Layout With Your Inventory Management System
An efficient inventory system can also boost your security and improve your overall warehouse management, letting you know when items are missing and saving you time on inventory counts. The most efficient way to handle inventory is to use a cloud-based automated inventory management system that integrates with your point-of-sale software and your accounting software. This allows you to update your inventory and your bookkeeping automatically each time a sale is made, saving you significant labor on manual inventory counts. However, you should still set up a system for doing periodic manual counts to double-check your automated system.
An automated inventory system can also help you with keeping your warehouse stocked. You can set up some inventory software systems to automatically notify you when a certain item is running low or even to automatically place an order to restock the item.
An Efficient Warehouse Layout Adds to Your Bottom Line
Planning your warehouse layout carefully can save you significant labor and costs. Mapping your warehouse layout out allows you to organize your storage space and picking paths for maximum efficiency. Including security planning in your layout plan helps protect you from shrinkage and burglary. An automated inventory system can further improve your security as well as save you time on inventory counts and restocking. Following these tips will help you optimize your warehouse design and maximize your productivity and profits.