When it comes to warehouse layout, few things are as important as making good use of the space you have. Maximizing your space utilization ensures that you are getting the most out of your real estate, and that your items can stay clean and organized while they are in house.
The most obvious way to think about space utilization is in terms of horizontal area. When laying out your aisles, you need to consider how many aisles you intend to have, as well as the width of each aisle and shelving unit. Will your aisles be wide enough for two-way traffic, or will one person be picking both sides at the same time? You can fit more shelving into the warehouse with narrower aisles, but the trade-off is often congestion in the lanes that can slow down warehouse efficiency.
Very few warehouses stock products of all the same shape and size. Most likely, you will need to create locations in a variety of sizes to handle your product. This includes large locations for bulk items and things like appliances, as well as small locations for microchips, hardware and other tiny objects. For best efficiency, many warehouses create large bulk storage locations above the smaller locations with the same product for easy restocking and accessibility. Having large and small locations interspersed can help warehouse efficiency by improving picking density as well. You should also keep in mind the physical requirements when lifting heavy objects from low shelf spaces or taking them down from high shelf spaces. A WMS can often track item weights and limit the locations where items can be placed if they pose a physical challenge to pickers.
The final consideration is vertical space. As mentioned before, higher up shelves are a great place to store bulk product because those locations need to be accessed less frequently. If your employees are constantly having to climb a ladder to pick the products they need, your warehouse efficiency is probably suffering. Placing bulk in the upper locations frees up more space on the ground level for product that is ready to be picked. For very high-density small objects such as medications and small tech components, the use of Vertical Lift Modules and/carousels makes it easy to rotate stock vertically while keeping your employees on the ground.
Maximizing space utilization is a balancing act between warehouse efficiency and practicality. The key to success is thinking not just in terms of how much space you have on the ground, but also how to utilize vertical space effectively, and how traffic will flow through the space. Make sure you draw your plan out on paper and get several opinions from people who actually work on the floor as they may be able to give insight about issues they face.