4 Smart Tips to Optimize Distribution Floor Space
Maximizing every square inch of warehouse or distribution floor space can be a challenge for any business. No matter how much space we have, there just doesn’t seem to be enough. In this article, we’re going to discuss 4 budget-friendly ways to increase capacity and utilize every valuable inch of real estate.
The consensus says that a distribution center is technically out of space when it hits 85% of its occupancy. This doesn’t just apply to storage areas, but also receiving, shipping, and all other process areas.
Overcapacity is a disaster waiting to happen. According to buildings.com “A small warehouse that has run out of inventory space can be a host of problems including longer retrieval times for misplaced parts, increased risk of employee injury due to heavy lifting and bending for improperly stored inventory, decreased productivity, and more.”
And while a build-out or facility expansion might be the first thought, this can prove to be very costly and time-consuming. It might be possible to forgo major expansion by making better use of the space you have.
Before jumping into the optimization tips, let’s start first with why a distribution center might run out of space.
Primary Reasons a Distribution Center Runs Out of Space
There are many reasons a warehouse or distribution center runs out of floor space, but the most common are:
- Hot selling items. Products are flying off the shelf and a business needs to stock up.
- Obsolete inventory. In the age of the latest and greatest, product models become obsolete more quickly, which can lead to dead inventory.
- Inventory deal. There was a great deal on inventory and a business took advantage and overbought.
- Archived files and records. Some businesses cannot dispose of old customer files, records, etc. for a certain length of time due to industry standards, federal regulations, or something else.
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Whatever the reason, more clutter equals more congestion, which means more work and more labor.
Tips to Maximize Warehouse Floor Space Utilization
There is no one perfect way to optimize warehouse floor space. In most cases, it takes a series of steps to free up floor space and lessen congestion. Below, are a few tried and tested techniques that will work in a variety of distribution environments.
Mezzanine and VRC Installation
One budget-friendly way to utilize vertical space is through the addition of mezzanines and VRC’s (vertical reciprocating conveyors). A mezzanine is any raised platform surface or intermediate floor in a building. A VRC is a freight lift used to move materials from one level to another. This combination can prove to be a huge blessing in terms of cost and safety for a distribution center. Click here to learn more about VRC and mezzanine space utilization.
Use of Vertical Space
So many times, business owners think about expanding outwards, instead of expanding upwards. Pallet racks can help organize inventory and keep it off the floor. Pallet racks can be stacked on top of each other for maximum efficiency.
Reducing Aisle Width in the Racking Area
Aisles can take up to 80% of a facility’s available floor space. So, reducing unnecessary aisle space allows for an increase in storage capacity. For example, wide aisles (WA) are around 12′ or wider, whereas a narrow aisle (NA) is between 8-10 feet wide. By transitioning to a narrow aisle configuration, you can save about 20% of floor space. Remember to account for the floor space needed to maneuver forklifts, pallet jacks, and rolling ladders.
Organize Offsite or Supplier Storage
We consider this to be a last resort, but it is possible to move excess inventory offsite to a storage facility and schedule regular inventory shipments as orders allow. It’s the last resort because storage and shipping fees can get expensive quickly with no real return on investment.
As stated earlier, 85% of occupancy is considered out of space. Lack of floor space causes congestion, additional labor, and frustration. But there is hope. With a little ingenuity and planning, congestion can be a thing of the past.
To learn how to get the most from vertical reciprocating conveyors and mezzanines, please contact us today or request a quote for more information.