Warehouse storage services play a significant role in the supply chain, which means there are several elements that you must consider to ensure your products are received and distributed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Everything from lead times and supply chain velocity to anticipated throughput, receiving, storage, and dispatch volumes could impact the type of warehousing solution you need. Even then, these needs could change on a seasonal basis, so you need to think about both short-term and long-term solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most critical warehousing considerations.
Types of Storage
This may seem very obvious on the surface of it, but it’s important to define these terms before we get into everything else. There are several types of warehouse storage solutions available to you, including:
- Ambient storage – A dry storage warehouse for goods that don’t require any particular temperature control. Most products will fall into this category.
- Cold storage – This is specifically for fresh food products and other perishable goods.
- Hazardous storage – This is for anything from flammable liquids and chemicals to other materials that require extra security and safety precautions. (Not currently available at Calex ICIS.)
- Outside storage – Some products have characteristics that allow them to be stored in the yard rather than in the warehouse.
Accessibility and Flow
Warehouse operators need quick and easy access to every pallet within a warehouse. It must be convenient to identify and obtain items, and the design/organization of the warehouse must support the flow of products into and out of the building.
A warehouse layout needs to always consider the flow of work. Every sequence of actions that must be carried out should be located conveniently to each other, in the order in which they must be accomplished. Inventory must be able to flow smoothly in and out in a logical sequence, so regular flow analyses may be required.
When it all comes together properly, there should be an uninterrupted flow of people and inventory through the building without any bottlenecks or overly high traffic areas.
Something as simple as aisle width can have a huge impact on accessibility, though it’s something many businesses don’t consider in their own warehouses. The width of an aisle will change the way people and machines move through spaces, and it will also influence the size of forklifts or trucks you can buy as your company grows.
It’s all about organizing the warehouse for your current convenience and future needs.
For most companies, this is the first consideration when they begin looking at warehouses. The allotment of space will obviously be one of the most important variables in order to keep your supply chain running efficiently. You don’t want to pay for too much, and you never want to be caught with too little on hand.
A capacity analysis can help you determine how much space you really need for your inventory.
A warehouse that is not located anywhere near your business or your consumers may have a lower cost, but it will add some very real impediments to your supply chain.
It’s important to analyze your needs and determine the most effective geographic location so you can balance warehouse costs with transportation costs.
Is the warehouse located near shipping docks? How long will it take to reach end destinations?
At Calex, we have a 99.7% on-time service history because you can reach nearly 50% of the U.S. population same or next day from our facilities.
The heating, cooling, and lighting of a warehouse are critical for the care and protection of your inventory as well as the warehouse staff. Employee comfort contributes to productivity and accuracy, so this is something that can’t be overlooked.
The warehouse should never skimp on effective lighting, since it likely has the highest impact on productivity. More importantly, it reduces the risk of accidents and injuries on the job.
In areas where perishables will be stored, the proper temperature must be consistently maintained in order to protect the inventory.
Security and Safety
Warehouses need to have the necessary security and safety systems to prevent thefts and accidents and collect the records it needs to dispute any potential liability claims.
With so many moving parts in a warehouse, there are a lot of potential risks – high shelves, heavy machinery, lots of people moving around, electrical and chemical incidents, and much more.
Theses systems need to be made especially for warehouses, because a lot of these huge structures might not be able to support traditional wireless systems. For more reliability, a warehouse needs to use a hard-wired system for their security systems.
On top of that, security cameras need to be strategically located in order to maximize their fields of view and cover every potential area where a theft or accident could happen. The same goes for alarm sensors, whether it’s a door or window break sensor, fire alarm, motion detector, or another similar device.
Warehouse Management System
The technology that keeps our warehouses running at peak efficiency continues to change and evolve. At Calex, our warehouse management system (WMS) provides the tools we need to keep everything moving as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
We use the WMS to eliminate a range of manual processes while optimizing your inventory storage, tracking, workload distribution, and shipping. It’s also what allows us to provide as much transparency as we can so you are always connected to your inventory and know exactly what is in stock and when you’ll need to consider another shipment.
Flexibility in Storage Solutions
Very few companies need the same amount of storage all year long. After all, if your inventory needs remain stagnant, that might say something unfortunate about your sales.
You need warehouse storage services that can grow or change with your needs, whether they fluctuate with the seasons or grow and shrink depending on industry trends.
On top of that, not all products are uniform shapes. Shelf and rack sizes and heights may need to change. Other precautions may need to be taken to keep fragile products safe no matter where they are in the warehouse. Your solution needs to be as flexible as your needs.
Consider Them All
This may seem like a lot of things to consider when you are looking at your warehousing options, but they are a part of your supply chain solutions. By considering all these elements, you can expect improvements in search and retrieval times, pick-and-pack fulfillment accuracy, and workflows/processes.