Weighing up the options
With your objectives agreed and parameters set, you can now consider the different racking and shelving solutions to match your particular business needs. Remember that it will always be a trade-off and there will never be just one way of configuring your warehouse – only a shortlist of options that suit your business more than others.
Wide aisle or adjustable pallet racking is a popular option as it provides instant stock selectivity. However, the disadvantage is that standard forklifts need wider aisles, which means there is less space for storing goods. Double deep racking can partly overcome this as it allows pallets to be stored two deep, but requires specialist extendable forklifts trucks to access the pallet. While savings can be made with this approach, the trade-off is the need to invest in specialised handling equipment. Similar issues come up with narrow aisle racking.
Drive-in or drive-through racking systems, on the other hand, deliver very efficient storage, particularly for fragile goods, as rails take the weight of the pallet. No aisles are required, allowing high-density storage, which is ideal for high volume storage of similar goods.
However, the trade-off is that bottom pallets have to be moved to allow access to top pallets. This is where the latest technology such as a robot shuttle, can improve efficiency by collecting pallets on any level, bringing them to the front, and then allowing a normal pallet truck to be used. An alternative to drive-in systems are live pallet and pallet flow solutions as these do provide ‘first in, first out’ options.
Monitoring operations to improve efficiency
One of the most effective ways of optimising your warehouse is by using a logistics optimisation software system. C-WIS from The Constructor Group, for example, is an analysis tool that continuously monitors and optimises operations within the warehouse. Using real time data from a company’s ERP or WMS system, C-WIS analyses the optimisation of working methods, goods’ flow, locations, capital binding and manning and makes recommendations to improve efficiency.
Work with experienced storage solution companies
There are always a number of trade-offs to be made when trying to increase warehouse efficiency, and the ‘best’ solution for your company will greatly depend on the type of business or goods that you are handling. Working with an experienced storage solutions company that gives you access to knowledgeable consultants, engineers and project managers to help you navigate through all of the alternatives – is one of the best investments you can make to ensure you arrive at an optimal solution.
Either contact us direct or find your nearest Dexion Distributor who can advise on the options here.