Your company’s warehouse is one of the primary factors in its success. Like any other machine, all of the components need to work together smoothly to achieve the best results. If an axle is bent ever so slightly out of alignment, it can have catastrophic consequences for the entire system. Likewise, if your warehousing practices and layout are not optimized, you will experience an elevated risk of mistakes and delays.
Perhaps even more troubling is how a problematic arrangement introduces the potential for serious injuries. With so many moving parts in the form of employees and material-handling equipment, there’s always a chance that they will intersect at the wrong time or interfere with each other.
This is why it is crucial to ensure that the facility is laid out for maximum productivity and safety. Without a layout that best utilizes the space, a warehouse is less a well-oiled machine and more of an accident waiting to happen.
Maximize Floor Space
One of the most important steps to get the most out of your square footage is to reduce as much wasted floor space as possible. Although making aisles narrower is the obvious method for this, you may want to look at installing mezzanines to provide an additional level for foot traffic. Another idea that works well for streamlining your entire operation is reducing your inventory levels. Freeing up room on the floor reduces the number of accidents and improves efficiency.
Warehouses are three-dimensional spaces, so anything that helps you make better use of every axis will be helpful. For instance, you can install higher racks or optimize storage unit configurations. Eliminating pallets can also make a huge difference because without them you may be able to stack more units on top of one another.
Optimize Your Traffic Patterns
When plotting out the footprint of your facility, think about workflow and how to improve it. One of the best ways to make a positive impact is to increase the number of cross aisles. This provides more opportunities for workers and equipment to find alternate routes where they won’t be in the way of others. Investing time and resources into improving your picking system and inventory organization will prevent waste and create the most effective processes. Introducing automation such as robotic systems and bar feeders also decreases the risk of human error.
When it comes to safety, an optimal arrangement of resources literally can be a lifesaver. However, you can take other simple steps to go above and beyond for the well-being of everyone in the warehouse. These include building a culture that promotes accountability at every level and emphasizes safe behavior. Regular inspections of your machinery and hardware also help by detecting issues before they have a chance to cause breakdowns that can hurt employees.
When properly maintained, an engine can be counted on to operate successfully and safely every time. Likewise, a warehouse built from the ground up with best practices in mind can drive the growth of your business. For these and many other tips to increase warehouse productivity, see the accompanying infographic.
This blog was originally produced by IEMCA. Printed with permission.
About the Author: IEMCA designs and produces automatic bar feeders since 1961 and today it is the worldwide leader for every type of application for lathes, machining centers, grindings, gear cutters, and other types of machine tools.