TL;DR: Automation isn’t the only way to put your available storage space to good use. Using vertical space and investing in an offsite location to store overstock items are just two of many ways to become more storage efficient.
One of the biggest challenges that companies face along the supply chain is efficiently managing inventory. The combination of limited space and an ever-growing number of items to store can quickly cause problems.
If you're using more than 85% of the available space in your warehouse, you have very little wiggle room to work with. The good news is that there are ways to use every square foot available to you in efforts to become more storage efficient.
Here are the top 10 options according to THE Mr. FulPhill, Director of Operations at Nice Commerce.
1. Have a Dedicated Staff to Constantly Measure Storage and Optimizing
How can you fix a problem if you don’t know it exists or how bad it really is? By having a staff that’s dedicated to constantly measuring and optimizing storage, you can find innovative ways to be more efficient.
Storage measurement and optimization should take place daily. This way problem areas can be identified and addressed, which prevents the dreaded snowball effect.
2. Use Your Vertical Space
Vertical space is the most underutilized element in warehouse storage. By expanding your shelving and rack units upwards, you can increase your space at a minimal cost. Build onto existing structures and voila – more storage!
The one thing to be mindful of is that, depending on the height of your storage, you may need additional equipment. Forklifts can only reach so high, so be mindful of the tools you have available to reach these new heights.
3. Consolidate Locations
Are you storing the same item in multiple places? To become more storage efficient, it makes the most sense to combine them. This not only improves warehouse space utilization but also makes it easier to keep track of where certain items are.
You can consolidate locations during the putaway process or as a standalone function. Do what works best for your warehouse management team.
4. Use an Offsite Location for Overstock
Having excess inventory is a double-edged sword. It's great in that you'll always have top selling products in stock. But on the other hand, excess inventory can take up a lot of space
If you have overstock items, consider investing in offsite storage. This frees up space and creates a single location for fulfillment of these items.
5. Aisle Widths
Available floor space in a warehouse is determined by aisle width. While aisles need to be wide enough to accommodate forklifts, modern equipment has a smaller profile and can fit into tighter spaces.
Measure your aisles and see how much smaller you can make them. Decreasing aisle width fees up room for more storage racks.
For information about aisle width based on your material handling equipment, review the applicable OSHA standards.
6. Depth of Storage
Not only do you want to use the height of your storage facility most effectively, it’s important to consider depth as well. Increasing the depth of your storage system is beneficial in that it increases storage density while also adding much-needed stability for high structures.
One of the best options is to use double deep racking systems. Not only are they cost-effective, these racks also make material handling much more efficient. With a deep rack, you can consolidate items by SKU to keep items from the same product line together.
7. Supply Storage
Aside from storing products, chances are that you also use your warehouse to store packing materials and other supplies. Work with your supplier to determine if these items can be kept at their site and then delivered on a set schedule.
If your layout allows it, using a mezzanine is an alternate way to use your warehouse’s vertical space. A mezzanine is a cost-effective option for maximizing space while also causing minimal disruptions to warehouse operation.
Here you can relocate your move picking and packing stations along with staff areas to boost productivity.
9. Lean Inventory
Using a lean inventory approach involves identifying and eliminating wasted time, effort, and materials in a warehouse environment. It's a great way to reduce costs while also discovering ways to best utilize your storage space.
Lean inventory places a heavy focus on value, flow, pull, responsiveness, and the constant strive for perfection.
10. Focus on Receiving and Putaway
Around 90% of inventory issues stem from poor receiving and putaway processes. Maybe you have plenty of storage in your warehouse but need to refine everything that happens from the time goods are received to when they’re put in their assigned places.
With an efficient putaway system, you’re able to simplify the process of storing goods. In turn, the risk of misplacing or losing items is greatly minimized. An efficient putaway system also helps to keep your warehouse clean and organized.
By incorporating these 10 tips to boost storage efficiency, you can better manage your warehouse by optimizing the space available. In turn, you can make great strides in improving your company’s supply chain.
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