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Optimizing your warehouse layout can help you improve pick rates, reduce order fill times, and increase overall productivity. And there’s a science to the process! Focus on the acronym FAST, which stands for flow, accessibility, space, and throughput. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and go over some tips on how to use them to streamline your warehouse operations.
When a warehouse has good flow, it’s easy for workers to get around and to pick orders efficiently. So how can you accomplish this?
Use some logic when you lay out your space. For example, make sure items that are commonly purchased together are stored near each other. Also, keep your top sellers near main traffic paths to avoid frequently sending workers down long aisles that take time to travel. Just make sure there’s enough room for workers to get around each other so you don’t cause a traffic jam.
When products are accessible, it’s easy for workers to stop by, pick up an item, scan it, and add it to their basket. If your warehouse has unopened packages on shelves that pickers have to spend time getting into, or if regularly picked items are up too high or down too low, there’s room for improvement when it comes to accessibility.
To make your space more accessible, ensure that your top sellers are all in easy-to-reach spots on the shelves. Also, make sure nothing is blocking product shelves and that your aisles are wide enough for easy maneuvering.
In general, your goal in optimizing your space should be to go vertical and stay flexible. Over time, your storage needs may change, so having an adaptable system in place is key to long-term success. Have high ceilings? Take advantage! Purchasing tall, moveable shelves that optimize vertical space is an excellent way to maximize flexibility. Minimizing the number of permanent fixtures you install is another great way to keep your options open.
Throughput data shows how many labor hours it takes for goods to make their way through your warehouse. Some items’ handling factors will impact their throughput time, and it’s important to consider those things as you organize your space. For example, if an item requires specialized handling because it’s a hazardous material, has security requirements, needs to be refrigerated, or is fragile, that item will likely have increased throughput.
Having accurate throughput data for all items in your warehouse will help you determine the best way to logically organize these items for maximum efficiency.
Each of these four factors is equally important. By keeping these aspects of optimal warehouse design in mind when arranging stock, you can improve your productivity and profitability.