The technology and infrastructure needed to operate an efficient warehouse is forever evolving and keeping pace with these changes can prove difficult. However, for older warehouses that are still reliant on out of date techniques there are a number of new ideas you can introduce that can make operations more efficient and productive. Below we offer some suggestions and discuss how to bring an old warehouse up to date.
Improve your existing stock system
Good stock management is essential for any warehouse and should be one of the first areas you consider modernising. Even the smallest of mistakes can have a serious knock-on effect, so the more accurate you can be, the more efficient your warehouse will operate. Updating with modern technology can significantly reduce the amount of mistakes that can be made, such as the mislabelling or miscounting of goods.
Keeping your inventory up-to-date and trackable will enable you to keep a closer eye on stock and its current location. This means you have more information about stock levels which is crucial not only for your budgets and to ensure you do not over/under order, but it also means customers will always a good sense of what stock is available.
Goods can be tracked from the moment they leave the suppliers through to arrival at your facility, picking and packing, as well as final delivery and any returns. Being able to provide this data to customers also allows them to plan in anticipation of the goods arriving.
Install a mezzanine floor
The installation of a mezzanine floor will bring a number of instant benefits to your warehouse and ensure you get the most from the space you have available. These semi-permanent solutions can be installed relatively quickly, minimising downtime and any disruptions. They are also a cost efficient solution that quickly increases the ways in which you can store and distribute your goods.
Whether it’s for storage or returns sections, or administrative offices or secure areas, building vertically rather than horizontally maximises space. That said, mezzanines can also be built vertically if that is required in your warehouse.
Additional infrastructure can be added to a mezzanine too, such as a floor lifts, crossovers, conveyor platforms and mesh guard system, depending on your requirements.
Automation has become the norm in many modern warehouses, improving efficiency and productivity and transforming the way goods are stored, picked and delivered.
Naturally, one of the biggest barriers to overcome with automation is the upfront cost. Whether you have the financial resources available will very much depend on the size of your business. If you are in a position to invest in automation, be sure to carry out an in-depth cost analysis to ensure the long-term benefits outweigh any short-term financial belt-tightening you may have to experience.
In the long run automation will save you money. It doesn’t necessarily have to be robots or machinery and could instead mean the introduction of a warehouse management system (WMS), inventory control or data collection.
Whether you opt for digital or physical automation, the benefits are many. Throughput will be increased and operational costs reduced. Human error can be minimised and enhanced stock accuracy will ensure loses, returns and damages are better controlled.
Reorganise your aisle layout
Review the current layout of your warehouse to see where efficiency levels can be improved. The impact here could be beneficial to many other areas of the facility, making the process of storage and delivering goods much faster.
Try to make the aisles as narrow as possible, taking into account the equipment and materials that need to travel down them throughout the day. Safety is paramount, as staff and products need to protected when the aisles are in use.
Professional installation companies can be of great help here, reviewing your current set-up to offer recommendations on the best way to optimise the space. They can help with the taking down of your existing shelving and install new units that are safe and easy to access, while aisle space is fully optimised.
Bolster your security
There are a number of ways security can be improved in a modern warehouse without breaking the bank. Good security is a vital asset for any warehouse, keeping your stock and staff safe during the day and when the facility is not in use in the evening and weekends.
Options available include perimeter detection systems, which protects the area around your warehouse using tools such as IP cameras, door protection and video verification. Alternatively, you might want to look into motion detection systems, which will instantly spot any unexpected movement on your property. The system sends an automatic alert to the attached control panel and monitoring centre run by a professional security firm. They will then be able to assess the appropriate response level to the potential threat.
Move to LED lighting
Heating, lighting and electricity costs are usually some of the largest bills that have to be paid by any warehouse. Modern facilities use LED lights rather than traditional lightbulbs as they are more energy efficient and help to reduce your overall power costs. They are just as reliable as standard bulbs and are also a more suitable fit if you are looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
LED lights last for a long time and rarely have to be replaced, which means less money is spent on hardware and maintenance costs. A modern LED system will have automatic capabilities allowing you to set specific timings for when they are in use.
Review your safety measures
Safety is always of upmost importance and it should be a priority when you are looking at refurnishing your warehouse. Staff, structures and goods have to be protected and there are also certain legal requirements that have to be maintained.
Improved safety measures should include things like markings and signage to indicate areas where more care should be taken. Anti-collapse mesh nets can be put in place to protect staff from falling goods, along with protection barriers to safeguard against forklift collisions. Safety gates and barrier railings will also enable people to move around the facility, especially on higher levels, with more protection.