11 Warehouse Design Tips to Improve Efficiency (2021 Guide)

Jamie Jacobs
  • POST CATEGORIES
  • It’s no secret that your warehouse’s overall design and layout can dramatically affect the efficiency of your operation. Whether you’re moving high volumes of small products through the warehouse or low volumes of large products, there are specific designs that should be understood and considered to ensure that your warehouse flows as it should.

    Our guide will help you get the most out of your warehouse and design the best possible space. By the end of this guide, you should know which warehouse design is right for your business model and how you can implement it or redesign your space to fit.

    Tips for Designing Your Warehouse

    As you start designing your warehouse, you will need to consider several different warehouse layouts and strategies. Warehouse design needs to be flexible because your warehouse needs will fluctuate over time, and the warehouse layout should reflect this change in volume, product type, and order frequency.

    The tips below are going to help you visualize and understand how your warehouse will look and function. You should be able to identify problem areas that need special attention and areas that will flow smoothly.

    Map Out the Warehouse

    map out warehouse design

    To know the floorplan of your warehouse and where different products and processes will take place, you’ll need to map out the warehouse. How you go about mapping it out is ultimately up to you. An existing map is a great tool, but if you don’t have that, there are software solutions that can help you build a good map of your existing warehouse.

    For larger warehouses that need more extensive processes and designs, a warehouse design expert can be called in to help create a good floor plan and how to get there.

    During the process of mapping out the physical warehouse space, you can also map warehouse processes such as; What will happen where and when? How long does it take an order to make its way through the warehouse? What’s your supply chain like from start to finish? Knowing how each of these steps of the process work will help ensure that you know how every order moves through your warehouse.

    Lay Out Orders on Paper

    By laying out a physical mock-up of orders, you’ll be able to see how things are stored and then moved out of the warehouse. Undergoing this portion of the mapping process allows you to identify problem areas of your warehouse that need special attention and spots where there’s too much or not enough action taken by different groups of employees. If everyone works together, things will move more smoothly.

    The best way to do this is by laying out a physical mock-up on sheets of paper and then taking a photo of it so that you can edit and adjust it digitally. You’ll be able to easily see how orders are laid out and where employees need to go when they’re fulfilling an order.

    Plan for Space Optimization

    warehouse design tips

    Depending on how large of a warehouse space you have to work with, you’ll have to order all of your stock and plan what different sections of the warehouse to allocate for. For instance, the storage area in your warehouse shouldn’t take up more than 27% of the total space you have.

    Work stations for packing, picking, and shipping will be necessary, and you’ll also need an area for loading and loading. By drawing everything out on paper, you should be able to fit everything in your warehouse, and everything should have its own space.

    The reason it’s best to calculate all of this space ahead of time is so that you don’t have to worry about trying to fit everything without first having a chance to do it digitally or with a notepad and pen.

    A warehouse is technically out of space when it reaches 85% capacity. This makes it even more important to optimize and ensure that everything is stored efficiently.

    Pick the Right Equipment

    A warehouse might not need a lot of machinery, but if there are parts where employees will have to travel long distances with heavy loads: warehouse equipment can help. Machines are tools that should help make every operation in your warehouse more smooth and seamless.

    Trying not to spend money on equipment is a mistake that many warehouse owners make and likely will regret at some point in their time being a warehouse owner or manager.

    When designing the warehouse and storage areas within it, take into account that different machines will take up and need different amounts of space to maneuver properly throughout the space. For example, a warehouse forklift should have around 12ft aisles to work in. This helps to ensure that the forklift can easily retrieve or place items on the shelves.

    Test the Plan and Keep Track of Results

    Having a warehouse map is only the first step in creating an efficient warehouse. You’ll also need to test out your plan and see how it works before implementing any changes on the warehouse floor. This will allow you to find areas where there are still problems and gauge whether or not making these changes will help with efficiency levels at all.

    If your warehouse isn’t built yet, you can do virtual walk-throughs where you replicate what it would be like for a warehouse employee to walk through with different items and what problems they might face.

    Line Up Orders for Processing

    Order processing can all happen in the same area. It’s a straightforward and simple process, but when spread throughout the warehouse, instead of done efficiently all in one place, your employees are going to struggle with it and likely be fighting against each other.

    Instead, have all of your order shipping areas in one place. This will make for easy access and easily keep outgoing orders flowing.

    Two Common Warehouse Storage Strategies

    There are two main types of warehouse designs: random storage, which is when products are stored at different locations throughout the warehouse, and batching, which is when warehouse items are grouped together in designated areas. These two warehouse layouts have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh them before deciding on a warehouse design.

    Batching

    Pros:

    • easy way for employees to find products
    • supplies can be stored at one location

    Cons:

    • may not be the best warehouse design for high-volume, small inventory items

    Random Storage

    Pros:

    • better warehouse layout if you have a lot of volume and low SKU count. It’s easier to find products when they’re stored in different places throughout the warehouse than it is with batching

    Cons:

    • can lead to lost time when employees have to walk around the warehouse looking for products
    • not the best warehouse design if you need a lot of space for storage. Employees will spend more time walking and may cause other issues that arise from walking long distances

    Three Common Warehouse Layouts

    In our recent “best warehouse layouts” post, we broke down these different common layouts in depth. Below is a quick overview, but be sure to check out the full post for a more in-depth look at all of the different features and benefits of each layout.

    U-Shaped

    As the name implies, the U-shaped design looks like a U. The bottom of the U is where inventory is stored, and each leg is for shipping and receiving. This makes for an efficient transfer of goods from one receiving end over to the shipping end.

    I-Shaped

    i shaped warehouse layout

    An I-shaped design is subjective in many ways. But, the design itself is simple. One end is for receiving, the center is for storage, and the other end is for shipping. It’s a quick and easy transfer of products.

    L-Shaped

    Finally, L-shaped designs do provide another attractive solution for warehouse managers and owners. When designing this type of warehouse, both legs of the L should be close to the same size. This helps to ensure that your employees aren’t getting trapped by the 90-degree angle. Each leg will act as a shipping or receiving dock, while the middle serves as a storage area.

    Finding a Warehouse Designer for Your Project

    Finding a builder and designer will help alleviate some of your stress if you’re finding the warehouse designing process complex and frustrating. Hiring a team of designers, architects, and builders can help quickly get your warehouse project off the ground. One of the biggest benefits that a warehouse designer brings is years and years’ worth of experience in their field. In addition, a good designer will know how to make the warehouse efficient for your employee’s needs and keep your orders flowing smoothly.APX Construction Group is a commercial construction company that can help with all of your warehousing needs. From the start of the project all the way through to the end. We’ve got exactly what you need. Reach out to us today to learn more about what we can offer and get started on your warehouse project.

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