The overall cost of running a warehouse has a significant impact on a business’ bottom-line. At the core of an efficient warehouse lies a carefully designed racking system that considers vertical space as well as ground dimensions. Managers need to be vigilant when planning and designing storage solutions, to ensure that the facility’s floorspace is utilized to its optimal capacity.
When planning the configuration of your racking, you need to start by observing and documenting all aspects of your warehouse’s day-to-day procedures. Your operational processes will drive your storage design. Additionally, while it might be useful to research existing warehouses’ configurations, bear in mind that what works for another business might not necessarily work for yours. The best way to maximise your storage and get the most out of your racking is to install a system that is specifically designed for your operational needs.
We have enlisted below some key factors to consider when designing your storage. The main goal should be to maximising storage space as well as operational efficiency.
Density – analyse on-hand storage volumes by SKU to identify deep-lane storage opportunities. Deep-lane storage—such as double-deep, drive-in, drive-thru, pallet flow, and push-back racks—can dramatically increase cube utilization within a warehouse.
Capacity – make sure to carefully calculate your capacity requirements by weighing your heaviest pallets, so that you can choose a system with your largest capacity in mind.
Selectivity – how frequently you need to access each individual SKU also plays a major part on your racking system choice. For example, if you need to access all your SKUs at once, you will need a lower density storage system.
Method – the pallet racking system you choose will also depend upon whether you operate on a FIFO (first in, first out) or LIFO (last in, first out) method.
Picking profiles – whether you primarily pick pallets, cases, or eaches, or if you usually pick from bulk to replenish a forward pick zone will also affect your racking configuration.
Accessibility – the type of racking system you choose should also take into account access for equipment such as forklifts. Different systems allow for different sizes of lift trucks and varying levels.
Seismic zone – finally, it is vital to check if the facility has a seismic zone. There are high-grade materials specially designed for high-risk earthquake areas.
Future proofing: scalability and adaptability – if you find that your storage demands have changed, it’s important that your racking system is capable of adapting to accommodate these changes. Some systems can be adjusted / expanded more easily than others, so keep this in mind when making your decision.
Main Types of Racking (Credits to The Logistics Bureau)
Once you have decided on a basic layout, you can start researching which options will better achieve what you envisioned. There are several racking choices to consider, depending on your operational needs. We have enlisted below the main types of racking and summarized which operational models they better suit:
Selective – this is the most common mode of racking, and it suits a FIFO approach. It supports a relatively low number of pallets per SKU, and it’s better used if you need to pick from pallets at lower levels.
Push Back Racking – this type of racking system is commonly used as two pallets deep but can actually reach three or four if needed. It suits a FILO approach for each slot. It’s best used if you have more pallets per SKU and want to gain greater storage density or when order picking is not required from pallets within these racks.
Double Deep Racking – this system suits a FILO approach for each slot. It’s generally used for placing two pallets of the same SKU in each double deep slot. It’s best to select this if greater storage density is required.
Pallet Live Storage – these are used when you need a FIFO approach and stock is moving at relatively fast rate. Also useful if you have a high number of pallets per SKU and/or you need high space utilisation.
Drive in Racking – this type of racking is used when you don’t wish to mix SKUs within each bay/lane of drive in racking. It’s also useful if staging of received or picked goods is required in a high-density format.
Narrow Aisle Racking (Turret or Articulated Truck Operation) – this type of racking is used when you have high SKUs with relatively small quantities per SKU, when you want good space utilisation, when you have large amounts of goods moving and out and/or you want to improve the storage density within your warehouse.
Mobile Racking – this type of racking is used when there is a high amount of storage, but with modest movement of pallets. It’s also beneficial if you are only handling full pallets.
Satellite Racking (Deep Lane Pallet Racking) – this type of racking is used when there is a high volume of products moving through each SKUs. It can also be used if you have one SKU per lane and/or to overcome poor space utilisation of drive in racking.
High Rise Racking (Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems) – this type of racking is used when land space is limited, and/or if there is a high volume of products moving in and out of the system. The number of pallets per SKU becomes irrelevant as the system is automatic and all pallets are accessible
Warehouse Management System
A Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps you control all aspects of your operations including storage and utilization of floor space. Often, WMS can make valuable recommendations such as changing your product slotting philosophy away from conventional product value-based ABC categorization toward often counter-intuitive yet highly efficient methods like floating inventory warehouse layouts.
Moreover, A WMS will allow your managers to make more accurate inventory predictions, thus optimizing store replenishment, avoiding over-stock, improving in-stock availability for popular items, forecasting and planning for seasonal periods.
Gaining this insight allows you to act strategically, armed with knowledge that your competitors wish they had about their businesses. It will drive productivity and strip out inefficiencies allowing your business to reach its full potential.
No matter how big or small your facility is, having a warehouse management system will benefit your business. With the HighJump platform, iWMS Australasia can offer you a tailored, configurable and scalable solution that will meet your unique business needs today and for years to come. Contact us now.