Efficient use of space is important in every industry, but perhaps nowhere is it more essential to ensuring smooth and profitable operations than in the warehousing sector of the supply chain industry. Even if you have access to multiple facilities and a variety of storage options, not making the most of the square footage you have can lead to lost productive time and revenue as you shell out extra funds for additional spaces you might not need. Getting extra space out of your existing warehouse or warehouses can make a huge difference when it comes to preserving your profits and maximizing efficiency.
It can be easy to slip into the old habit of thinking of warehouse storage space as a two-dimensional matter — after all, it doesn’t matter how much inventory you can cram into your building if your workers can’t efficiently maneuver around it and pick what they need for orders. That being said, warehouse managers can still do a lot to make use of vertical space in their facilities without sacrificing mobility or efficiency on the warehouse floor.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by extending existing racks upwards to fill empty space between your warehouse floor and the ceiling. As long as you don’t intrude on the space reserved for your building’s fire suppression system – usually about 18 inches from the ceiling in buildings equipped with modern ESFR sprinkler systems – stacking your racks can give you much more storage space to work with, without requiring a financial investment as substantial as renting a new facility.
It may also be worth considering the installation of a mezzanine level overtop of existing warehouse floor or even above shipping doors and conveyors, so long as your warehouse can structurally handle the added weight safely. Doing this can effectively double available space in the area where the mezzanine is installed, which you could use for additional storage, packing processes, or even office space.
You can also maximize efficient use of warehouse space without building any new structures at all by narrowing the space between your existing racks. That said, the exact degree to which you can move shelving units closer to each other will vary depending on the types of products you need to store and the equipment you need to pick them, so make sure to conduct a thorough analysis of your business needs before committing to this kind of measure.
Part of that analysis should include exploring whether you are using the most effective storage medium to meet your warehouse’s needs. For example, if you commonly move inventory in bulk and/or in a first-in-first-out manner, switching to double-deep racks instead of single-deep racks could offer additional storage space without impacting day-to-day operations.
Of course, what will work best for other businesses may not be what works best for yours. With that in mind, the most important tip to keep in mind for maximizing your existing warehouse space is adjusting your storage approach around the unique processes that keep your business running.
For example, if you take in a lot of products stored in half-pellets, you may need a different approach to pallet storage to allow for different types of pallets to be stacked efficiently. The nature of these and other potential issues can change significantly from warehouse to warehouse, so it’s important to take the time to understand how your facility functions and do what’s best for your business needs.