In the latest issue of the Commercial, Construction & Renovation magazine, our feature interview is on beauty, health, and empowerment. Dr. Kalpana, a board-certified physician, speaker, and entrepreneur, talks about how true beauty comes from within.
We could borrow that phrase and say the construction of truly efficient warehouses starts from within.
Various factors influence the construction of a warehouse. You must be extra attentive about the factors affected by the nature of your business. For instance, if you deal with food products, heating and cooling of the space are critical. On the other hand, the flow of people and equipment is vital when handling fast-moving goods.
Other factors could be general but are not any less important. They include the team’s welfare, your budget, accessibility, and technology.
Here are some of these considerations and what they mean for your warehouse.
The Nature of Your Business
The nature of your business determines what activities will take place in the warehouse. The product characteristics will also influence warehouse design.
Consider these questions as you think about constructing the warehouse.
- Are the products fragile, hazardous or do they require special handling?
- Can you store them in stacks on the floor or warehouse racking?
- Will you perform any other operations at the warehouse apart from storage?
Tweak the design to ensure safe and efficient storage and handling of your products.
Also, think ahead, and think about flexibility. The warehouse could be more than just a storage facility. You could convert it into a prime fulfillment center like Best Buy’s more than 1,000 stores.
The flow of People and Equipment
Warehouses are the nerve centers of the entire supply chain. There is a constant movement of people, equipment, and products.
Easy flow of people and equipment is a critical factor to consider when constructing.
In a warehouse that handles fast-moving products, flow and circulation are paramount.
For starters, consider floor construction. The floors must be completely stable, flat, and easy to service. After all, it bears the ultimate weight, and all the movement is on the floor. Uneven and poorly constructed floors are a recipe for disaster and inefficiency.
Concerning the layout, consider the circulation of products (or the flow). There must be a logical sequence of activities and uninterrupted movement of people and equipment. The construction should support a layout design where operations run smoothly and logically. Sections handling receiving, order preparation, and dispatch should complement each other.
Efficient flow of people and equipment enhances throughput, which in turn drives overall profitability.
The Welfare of Staffers
There are more than 1.2 million Americans who work as warehouse staffers. Warehouse personnel are not only attracting greater scrutiny from regulatory bodies; they are also a growing cost factor.
When constructing the warehouse, consider the welfare of the personnel. Think about their safety while at work and the facilities they need for their breaks.
Does the warehouse meet all the safety codes? Is it well lit, well-aerated, and are the working conditions optimum? Think about the safety and wellbeing of your team as you prepare for the construction of a warehouse. Studies show a strong link exists between employee wellness and customer satisfaction, especially where they often come into contact.
The location of the warehouse construction site is vital. Proximity to infrastructures like harbors, roads, and other warehouses ensures that the site is advantageous. Receiving and dispatching products will be easy, and transportation costs will be lower.
Within the warehouse, accessibility is not just about quick and easy access to a product. It is also about accessing the right amounts for a complete packaging unit.
- How quick and easy is it to access a pallet load or a truckload?
- Do you need to observe rules such as First In First Out (FIFO)?
- Are there other details to consider when picking (Like the batch number for pharmaceuticals)?
Consider the space and design of the warehouse. It will enable convenient and fast identification and retrieval of required units.
Space and Technology
When constructing a warehouse, allocate prime space to storage and stock processing functions. Other functions, such as offices, storage for empty pallets, and working areas are secondary.
Thanks to advanced handling technology, and superior quality pallet racking, you can make the most out of both the floor and vertical space. Plus, most modern equipment does not require structural support from the main building. Therefore, the warehouse structure can be a simple design.
Making allowance for modern equipment could also improve operational flexibility. You can quickly set up or change the storage media according to the profile of the current product.
Considering other technologies like internet access during construction is also crucial. It will help you to avoid disruptive building upgrades in the future.
Finally, The Budget
Constructing a warehouse may require deep pockets. Any money spent on making sure that these factors are thoroughly considered in the construction is a worthy investment.
Remember, an efficient design at an advantageous location, run by a happy team, will give you a better return.