Warehouse Workflow Design – Challenges and Hidden Dangers

Warehouse Workflow Design – Challenges and Hidden Dangers

FIFO or LIFO

One of the first things to ask if you are trying to design a warehouse workflow is if you are trying to build a site that follows first in – first out or last in – first out. The designation of which of these two you can use gives you a very strong idea of what kind of pallet rack you need in your business. If you are based around any type of food business then it is highly likely that you are going to follow a FIFO style warehouse type of plan. If that is true, then what you are looking at is a pallet flow pallet rack. A pallet flow pallet rack allows you to load from behind the system so that the oldest product or pallets are always getting pulled first. If you own something like a grocery store then you know how important this is for your business. Gravity is what pulls the next product in line forward so that it can be used the next time a product or pallet needs to make it to the shelf or is picked up by the customer. Conversely, you may be able to use the most common type of pallet rack which is a selective rack. Selective rack is like the shelving you have at home. You can put things on the shelves as you see fit but it is harder for it to follow a first in – first out system since you are most likely loading the next product or pallet in front of the older products. However, you get more selectivity then you would with any other pallet rack system.

One of the first things to ask if you are trying to design a warehouse workflow is if you are trying to build a site that follows first in – first out or last in – first out. The designation of which of these two you can use gives you a very strong idea of what kind of pallet rack you need in your business.

If you do not have to use a first in – first out type of rack then your selection of rack type tends to become much larger. If you just need a high-density storage solution and you do not need to follow first in – first out then you can use a system that uses last in – first out. A high-density storing solution like a pushback rack system may be very useful for you. A pushback rack system is similar to a pallet flow system however you can load in the front because timing is not an issue for you. Therefore, the system uses gravity to deploy the next newest product to the front of the line.

If you have something heavy and long like lumber, steel, or piping then you may want to consider cantilever rack. A cantilever rack is not often seen by consumers, however, it is a staple of a lot of industrial applications. It is fair to say that, unless you need cantilever rack, you probably have never heard of it and you have probably very rarely seen it. It is most commonly called a lumber rack or pipe rack. A lot of people have trouble finding this because there is a language discrepancy between consumers and people in the industry who offer it for sale.

There are other types of pallet rack you can get for your warehouse and your warehouse workflow. However, as you can see, it can become very involved as far as what type of system is best for your particular warehouse and its workflow. In fact, you probably only had a selective rack in mind when you started to think about how to design your warehouse but, all things being equal, one of the previous racks may be better for your situation. Therefore, although you can design your own warehouse and do a good job you may not be maximizing the potential of your warehouse and your workers’ workflow at the same time.

Permitting

Another thing to think about when you are doing a warehouse workflow plan is that you also have permitting that you have to deal with once your warehouse is set up. If you have never had an inspection or someone comes through the make sure that you are in compliance with all the safety rules then you might be blind to the fact that the rack you could buy in the marketplace may not be able to be permitted for use. Here is the truth of the industry. Not every place needs permits because of the seismic activities going on underneath them. However, it is true that a lot of places do have rules for seismic activity and how safe your pallet racks actually are for your area. If you buy pallet racks from somewhere else then they may not have the correct seismic testing and/or calculations needed to be permittable in your area. Of course, you probably are not going to know that until it is too late. If you go through an inspection and your pallet rack is found to be insufficient then you will have to store the rack and also store the product that was on that rack. Obviously, you could have a problem storing all of these particular items because you had a storage problem in the first place. Any hard work you put into designing your warehouse workflow just went down the drain. You have also lost money. If you have never dealt with a permitting process then you will not know what may come your way during the process of getting your warehouse permits. It is best to deal with is a professional outfit who does know the ins and outs of the process. They can help you figure out your warehouse workflow and get you through the permit process.

“One last thing to think about is the incidentals. If you have never done a plan for a warehouse before then you probably have not seen all the little incidentals you could need for your warehouse.”

Incidentals

One last thing to think about is the incidentals. If you have never done a plan for a warehouse before then you probably have not seen all the little incidentals you could need for your warehouse. Keep in mind that you are not only planning workflow but also safety at the same time. For example, a lot of pallet rack comes with safety clips. However, safety clips tend to wear down over time and not do their job anymore very well. The bad part about this is that they look like they are properly attached but you will not know that they are failing until a shelf starts to fall on you. Therefore, it is smart to have pallet rack safety pins in place as a backup so that your employees, you, and/or your family is safe when they are around your racks. You may also need a mobile shelving system to move things around. Finally, your warehouse workflow may need a mezzanine or a modular office inside the warehouse. It could be that you want to make sure that your employees can talk to you when they need to do so. Having an office inside the warehouse may be a good thing for this purpose. Perhaps you need your warehouse manager to have a space and an office in the warehouse. A modular office works well for this purpose.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about as far as planning your warehouse workflow. Getting help to design your warehouse workflow for safety and optimal efficiency is always smart. You may as well get as much help as you can in order to get this done. Another good thing is that all this can be planned in CAD. Therefore, you can look at your warehouse set up before it even goes up and change things on the fly without spending time and money on moving things around.

If you have a new warehouse and you want to work on your warehouse workflow and get it optimally set up then have a look at this warehouse CAD layout service. We would love to help you set up your warehouse for optimal efficiency and safety. You can also call us at 503-447-1284.

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