Thinking outside the box has become a cliché statement. It’s still important but has become so overused it has almost lost its meaning. However when it comes to warehouse optimization and supply chain efficiency, it may be the most appropriate thing to say. Thinking outside of the box, specifically, what is under, over, and next to the box can provide the opportunity to address the speed and demand of omni-channel logistics. Rack, shelving, and storage space has become the next frontier for fulfillment centers. While it brings new challenges like maximizing space and worker safety, it also offers opportunities for new cost savings and efficiencies.
E-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment has created the need for more products to go more places at different times. While changes in technology and equipment have answered some of these demands, looking overhead can reveal a warehouse’s untapped potential. With innovations from storage, rack, and shelving manufacturers, smarter and better warehouses are emerging.
Multi-Level Storage Structures
Storage structures are being built higher than ever with the addition of wire-guided, man-aboard pickers. These 20-30 foot tall systems typically allow a worker to pick a full case from a rack, however this is no longer an efficient or ideal method. More fulfillment operations need the ability to split cases or pick particular items from a rack in order to meet the heightened demands of omni-channel logistics.
New warehouse spaces are being designed to accommodate these taller structures. If you have 30 foot ceilings in your distribution center, and your traditional shelving and storage system is only 10-15 feet tall, you can be missing out on up to 50% of usable space. With the availability of this space, the opportunity to safely leverage it, and meet the rising demands of e-commerce orders means more warehouses are being designed or remodeled to accommodate three and four level systems.
Taller, more complex, and more robust shelving and racking inside of the warehouse can only be as effective as the tools that are in place to access its contents. With speed racking, platforms, mezzanines, and pick and flow-type modules that integrate with your warehouse automation, efficiency and cost saving goals can be met. While the amount of usable space increases, it is also important to control the distance a product travels and the number of touches that occur so that accuracy and efficiency can be improved.
For over 75 years Barrett Distribution Centers has been providing third party logistics services like order fulfillment, warehousing, transportation and supply chain management to a wide variety of industries and markets. Barrett also has experience and expertise in e-commerce fulfillment and creates customized supply chain solutions.