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Warehouse Layout – 6 Important Considerations For Design

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people working on a warehouse layout design

There are many things to consider when planning your warehouse layout.

Your mind will most likely immediately think of things like order picking, loading, and unloading areas. However, don’t forget to think about safety and here are six considerations you should be aware of when thinking about best practices around your warehouse layout.

Not enough space

One failure within the warehouse layout can be the mistake of not dedicating a proper amount of space for each task or having a specific zone for each storage system component. While one major challenge is that this can slow down efficiency, traffic flow, and warehouse operations, it can also create safety issues.

For example, if you have workers and inventory unnecessarily passing through various areas of your warehouse, you are increasing the risk of an accident occurring.

How to avoid it:

Plan your warehouse layout space. Ensure you’ve considered utilising all of your warehouse storage space. You should not have a build-up of stock levels/inventory on the ground; you can install a pallet racking system to utilise all the space within your warehouse. This can not only improve the amount of space and storage area, but it can also improve other aspects of your business, such as order picking, the flow of goods, and the order fulfilment process.

Falling objects

Although we are all about utilising unused space between the floor and the ceiling of your warehouse, this can also create a harmful risk if not used correctly.

It’s important always to store items at the correct height for their weight and size.

How to avoid it

The first step for warehouse layout would be to consider getting professional assistance. Consider undertaking a warehouse safety inspection, which will assist you in assessing the risk of falling objects and assist you in your overall warehouse safety.

There are more things that can lead to the potential of falling objects, such as clutter, uneven floors, or lack of operational skill, but let’s find out more about that shortly.

Lack of education

One key ingredient to ensuring the safety of individuals and those around them is providing training. When we say training, we don’t just mean providing new employees with one day of training when they commence working in your warehouse; good operations standards are about ongoing training. This should include refreshers for all staff, no matter how long or short they’ve been at your company.

The training should extend to every aspect of the warehouse operations, (e.g. how to stack items correctly to reduce falling objects).

How to avoid it:

Have a regular training schedule. In many warehouses, most things will stay the same, so organisations may become complacent when it comes to training; that is why you should prepare a company-wide calendar for regular training and refresher sessions.

Many employees will feel as though they don’t need it, as they’ll assume that they’re experienced enough already. That’s why you will need to make these sessions worthwhile and engaging for them.

Do research to provide examples and anecdotes of why it’s integral to have regular refreshers – explain how incidents can happen to even the most experienced workers. These sessions should be conducted at least once a year. Whether you conduct it internally or externally depends on your business.

The sessions could include video training, expert speakers, re-assessing your warehouse layout and procedures. As stock levels change and the stock mix alters, training becomes more important.

Don’t just make it a one-way conversation; ensure that your staff are involved and having input.

Untidiness and clutter

Whether it’s tools, inventory, rubbish, or stock – always make sure your team put items back once done with it. Not only so everyone knows where items are when they want them, but also so they stop people performing tasks as they are where they should not be.

Consider if an item is left in a passage or pathway, you could get an unsuspecting forklift driver backing into/over it. In the worst-case scenario, creating a domino effect where they knock over racking leads to items falling. Or you may not realise that your item is blocking or positioned near a safety exit, which could spell disaster if there needs to be a quick exit.

How to avoid it:

The main tip here is to be diligent –instil in all employees’ minds that they have to put items away when they’re done with them.

Assist in making this easier by ensuring they know exactly where each item goes, and if they’re unsure, teach them – this links back to undertaking regular training and warehouse assessments. Warehouse layout is not just about where the racking systems go. It’s about what is on the racking systems and storage shelves.

For a functional warehouse layout, have designated paths for walking and forklift/pallet jacks/lift trucks, etc. Ensure everyone knows these areas must be left neat and tidy to always allow for suitable aisle width.

Exposure to harmful substances

There can be hazardous materials within a warehouse. Whether it’s flammable materials or types of gases, they need to be stored correctly. You should never leave harmful material sitting out on a workbench or warehouse floor. Even the way they are stored should be treated differently from most other items within the warehouse.  

How to avoid it

As part of the warehouse layout, designating the right storage equipment is essential when it comes to materials handling. Our range of dangerous good storage can assist in correctly storing flammable liquids, aerosols, forklift gases, oxidising agents, and toxic and corrosive materials.

Mismanagement of pallets

This also comes back to untidiness, but on a slightly larger scale. How often have you walked into a warehouse and seen a pile of unused pallets? Let’s assume at least once or twice.

This can become a safety hazard in multiple ways. First, if stacked too high without any support, they risk falling if disturbed. So again, avoiding having a forklift collide with them is a key here.

While if there is a smaller pile, they could then become a tripping hazard.

How to avoid it:

First and foremost, you need to track the number of pallets coming into and leaving your warehouse. Treat them like any other piece of stock that requires an inventory management system and figure out how they can be stored correctly. Create a designated space that unused pallets can go somewhere safe and out of the way.

Conclusion

Many of these points may sound like common sense, which they are. However, although they may sound straightforward to you, you need to ensure everyone within your organisation is on the same page.

If you would like to have your warehouse layout reviewed for efficiency and safety, get in touch with the experts at Bowen Storage. 

© 2021 Bowen Storage. All Rights Reserved.

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