The demand for your products is growing and you know that, at some point, your warehouse storage system will not be enough. You have a lot of maybes, but not a lot of definitive plans. How can you evaluate your future warehouse storage needs? And can you change how your current storage system can or cannot change to meet those changing needs?
Evaluating Current and Future Warehouse Needs
Ideally, you should have up-to-date information on your warehouse efficiency. Your WMS should be able to give you reports on the amount of inventory you are carrying, how efficient your picking operations are, and how much space you have available for incoming inventory.
Once you have this information, the next step is to evaluate how well the current storage system will handle future demand. Here are some questions to consider:
- Is the current space being utilized to the maximum? If you look up and see 10 to 15 feet of space above your current racking system, you are not using the space efficiently. Same goes with extra wide aisles.
- Does your business go through seasonal fluctuations? Some businesses can double the inventory they are carrying depending on the time of year. This must be factored into planning.
- Is it possible to increase the storage capacity of the warehouse without compromising safety and maintenance? Trying to pack too much into a fixed space can slow down work and actually make it dangerous for your workers.
- Is the warehouse space organized to maximize productivity? If your pickers are deadheading to the back of the warehouse to get common items, you need to improve your organization.
- How much of the space is used for excess inventory? You need to carry enough inventory to fulfill orders in a timely fashion. However, you don't want to pack your shelves with items that won't go out for months and months.
- Does the current slotting system provide adequate picking quantity without requiring frequent replenishment? A poorly designed slotting system is often at the heart of poor warehouse efficiency.
- Does the current system support keeping inventory accurate and up-to-date? If your current system does not give you near real-time inventory numbers, you need a system that does.
- Does the system deployed within the warehouse offer functionality and flexibility? You need systems that enhance inventory management, replenishment efforts, picking, and putaway.
Can the Current System Evolve to Meet Your Future Needs?
There are plenty of ways your current storage system can evolve to meet changing needs.
- You can change your racking systems to reach close to ceiling height.
- You can reconfigure the warehouse layout to increase productivity and storage space.
- You can improve slotting systems to keep operations moving without frequent replenishment.
- You can change over to a modern WMS, which can help improve your inventory and slotting management.
There are a few things that will be difficult to evolve to meet your future storage needs. Here are a couple.
- Too little space for too much product: If you have maximized your warehouse efficiency, but are still running out of room, you need additional space.
- Trying to manage a warehouse using paper: If your warehouse does not have a modern WMS helping with organization and operations, you will not know what you have, where it is, or how your workers are accessing it.
If you know that your warehouse is not ready to handle future needs, now is the time to make changes. It will prepare your warehouse for the growth and keep your operations flowing smoothly.