Warehouse Storage Strategies – Part I
By: Larry Rausch – Vice President – CBF Industries
The most common problem most warehouse owners and managers face is maximizing their warehouse storage space and minimizing their overall operating costs. It might seem like a tough challenge, but fortunately, there are many solutions to this seemingly daunting task.
Given this, we are continually asked to provide suggestions relative to leveraging warehouse efficiencies and reducing costs. We will expand on this more, but the key strategy is a proper pallet racking system. This post is intended to provide a few tips and hard learned lessons that will help you get on the right track to a more organized operation.
Think Upward Not Outward
Industrial warehouse report data suggests that using a pallet racking system can create a safer working environment for your employees and improve the efficiencies in your warehouse operation. A pallet racking system can increase the amount of floor space that’s available for use because it stores your inventory vertically instead of horizontally, optimizing the space between your facility’s floor and ceiling. This type of system can help you keep your warehouse organized, making it look like there is an actual rhyme and reason to your storage area, because it prevents you from storing an overwhelming number of horizontal lines of product on your floor.
Most buildings calculate floor space size in two-dimensional square footage. Unless you add on and outward, you have no realistic way of expanding your horizontal area. Your warehouse space is finite unless you think outside the box. Your solution isn’t expanding outward or leasing a separate facility. That only increases your operational expenses like staffing, taxes and utilities.
The solution to maximize warehouse storage is to think vertically. Think of the excess area you have above your current storage footprint. You likely have double or more cubic feet of unused space waiting to be filled. That’s provided you have an efficient system to maximize your vertical storage.
Yes, your solution to the common storage problem is three-dimensional. It’s building upward, not outward. And there are efficient systems available for you to maximize warehouse floor space that brings an excellent return on investment.
Pallet Stacking – A Recipe For Disaster
You may own your facility outright, but likely you’re the same as most warehouse and distribution center operators — you lease your building. Based on this, many operations maximize their vertical warehouse space by stacking pallets on top of pallets. This strategy might sound simple, but it is not efficient or effective. Pallet stacking forces your warehouse workers into repeated lifting, lowering and restacking pallets to get what they need to pick and fulfill orders. That’s not the best way to take advantage of vertical warehouse space.
This stack-and-restack method is time-consuming and can create safety issues like pallet tipping and load collapses. It also exposes workers to more forklift operations. Again, stacking is not a good way to maximize vertical warehouse space.
Some warehouses rely on fixed racking to elevate inventory loads. Conventional racks are safer than simply stacking pallets, but they also need forklift assistance. You might have lighter inventory products manually stored and retrieved. However, this places strain on your employees that can lead to muscle fatigue and lost time. Injuries should not be a result of poor warehouse storage strategies.
Your best plan to increase storage volume at an economical and efficient cost is implementing a vertical warehouse pallet racking strategy. This approach will increase efficiencies, reduce costs and provide a safer environment for your employees. They’re simply the best invention to hit the warehouse and distribution scene in the past century.