Warehouse Design Concepts

Supply chain efficiencies depend upon the efficiency of logistics including transportation and warehousing operations.

Warehouse efficiencies depend upon a combination of warehouse design, layout, infrastructure, systems, process and people.

In cases where one can design a warehouse and implement the complete project from ground zero, gives the SCM Project Manager a good scope to create a tailor made solution design matching the exact requirement, thereby increase efficiency as well as reduce transactional cost.

However, this may not be the case all the time. In an ongoing situation, often SCM managers are forced to take up available facilities and work around the available design and try to get the best results.

Warehouse Design element aims to maximize the utility of space, equipment, and efficiency of operations. We will briefly cover the various elements of a warehouse design and understand their importance.

In basic functional aspects, a warehouse function consists of - Material receipts including unloading, unpacking and inspection, put away and Storage of materials in various categories of storage locations, systems updating, pull materials for dispatch and delivery of materials after processing.

Warehouse Location, Layout and Building

The location of a warehouse should ideally be situated on a flat ground. The location should be easily approachable and in a area suited for this nature of business.

Locations closer to markets or to national highways would be ideal. Public transportation and communication infrastructure should also be available.

The layout of the building should be designed to accommodate fleet parking, and enable containers to drive in and drive out easily. Any time two containers should be able to pass through on the path without any interruption. There should be enough free space for vehicles to maneuver. The layout should also provide for other utility, safety and security operations.

Building is normally constructed using galvanized metallic sheets mounted on C Section girdles.

The flooring should be RCC concrete with weight bearing capacity as per requirement of the load to be calculated in each case.

The ground should be flat, even and smooth surface to facilitate MHE movements and dust free.

The roof height would be a major consideration to be able to install multi-vertical storage racking installation.

The walls and roof should be designed with suitable lighting panels and ventilators for air exchange fitted with bird cages.

The number of loading and unloading docs and placement of these docs play an important role in the design of operations and efficiency of operation.

All weather docks and the facility should enable 24 hours operations. Dock Levels. The docks should be equipped with dock levelers and all these have to be installed during construction phase itself. Ramps have to be provided to facilitate movement of forklift etc.

Lighting design will depend upon the layout and the racking design.

Internal Layout

Internal layout design will be built taking into account the operational process, nature of goods, volumes of transactions both inbound and outbound, storage types, in-house operations involving put away and pull sequences and process requirements including packing, kitting etc and the availability of floor space coupled with building layout design of inbound and outbound docks.

The design aims to maximize space utilization, minimize MHE movement and Manpower movement.

Types of Storage

Types of storage are determined by the nature of cargo. Depending upon the cargo whether finished goods, raw material parts, etc., the types of storage can vary from bulk stock, block stock, racking, pallet racking, shelf racking, binning, unit pick or loose pick face, carton pick, etc.

The storage types vary with nature of materials with different types of storage designs for drums, pallets, tires, cartons, tube, and rods, etc.

Racking Designs & Material Handling Equipment

Racking Design takes into account the storage type, storage unit, volume, and weight coupled with the available floor space and roof height to design system that maximizes the storage capacity.

Put away and picking process and transactional volumes are also taken into consideration.

The profile inventory study would include detailing of number of SKUs in each category of fast moving, slow moving or other criteria as per the nature of business and the storage type would be designed as per the inventory profile and the process.

Racking designs are very many and varies with the type of industries and nature of inventory. Normal racking designs include pallet racking on multiple levels.

You can have shelving, binning or a combination of bulk stock and forward pick face racking designs.

Block stack racking and other types of high-density racking can be found in FG warehouses.

Mezzanine store binning and shelving rack designs are normally designed for spare parts and small parts.

Highly automated racking designs can have automatic retrieval systems and conveyors in the warehouse.

Material Handling Equipment are specified based on rack design coupled with pallet design, nature of the cargo, weight, and the warehouse layout, etc. Forklifts, reach trucks, hand pallet jacks, trolleys are normal Material handling equipment in normal warehousing operations.

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