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Optimize Warehouse Space Through Well-Designed Pallet Racking Layouts

A woman in a hard hat optimizing warehouse space through well-designed pallet racking layouts.

When your small business has expanded to the point where having a warehouse is necessary, you must get a good grip on what you can do to optimize the space. Whether you have a big or a small space, what matters most is how you make the most out of it. It’s more than just having a system where your warehouse is well-organized and neat. A good layout can affect your day-to-day operations, and you’ll want the outcome to benefit your business. 

Different businesses will each have their own racking needs and preferences for their warehouses, so there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach for this aspect. However, despite this fact, there are tried-and-tested methods of designing its layout with a focus on achieving maximum productivity and efficiency as the top goals.   

Any seasoned warehouse manager will agree that one can achieve warehouse optimisation successfully when the pallet racking layout or system is well-designed. It’s a lot to learn at first, but you’ll soon be able to master the art of designing well-made pallet racking layouts. This learning process begins today with this comprehensive guide.   

Factor In The Necessary Considerations When Designing A Pallet Racking System 

You should complete and meet several essential conditions when designing a pallet racking system. You have to go through each of those factors one at a time; otherwise, skipping even one may only destroy the effectiveness of your pallet racking system.   

To start, these are some of those factors: 

1. Pallet Size And Type 

When designing your pallet racking system, you need accurate and precise measurements of the pallet you plan on using. Generally, the industry standard is 40” x 48”. It is vital to get as accurate as possible with your measurements as it will help get the specific dimensions right when purchasing, such as the depth and height.     

2. SKU / Pallet Count 

If your warehouse uses only one pallet per stock keeping unit (SKU), utilize a pallet racking system known as selective pallet racking. If you have several pallets per SKU, then that’s when a higher-density storage system may be necessary. 

3. Building Structure 

There are many considerations surrounding building structure, like the available warehouse space, column spacing, size and location of doors, and ceiling height.   

4. Seismic Activity 

If your warehouse is situated in a location known for high seismic activity, consider having pallet racks stronger than those used in low seismic activity warehouses. It means having higher gauge steel, more anchor reinforcements, and wider foot plates. 

Take Note Of Accessibility Requirements 

Because you’re reading this today, it’s safe to imply that you’re looking for new ways to organize and store the inventory in your warehouse. As you make revisions, don’t forget one of the most critical points: make room for employees to move around.  

By this, it doesn’t just refer to walking space. It also has to include enough space for automated vehicles like forklifts to go around your warehouse, if it’s that big. Ideally, aisles of big warehouses need to be around 12 to 13 feet to accommodate equipment commonly used in modern warehouses.  

If your pallet racking system eats up so much horizontal space that accessibility suffers, moving inventory from one end of the room to another might make it challenging. Consequently, it can negatively affect efficiency and order fulfillment processes. So to be sure that whatever changes you employ in your pallet racking design are indeed the best for your warehouse, consider asking yourself the following questions:    

  1. How many pallets need to be stored at a given time?  
  2. What’s the quantity of products that your warehouse needs to hold?  
  3. What’s the frequency of items needed to be accessed in the warehouse? 

Establish Your Budget 

Like all the other facets of your business, re-doing and optimizing your warehouse layout is highly dependent on your budget. The total cost you have to compute includes the installation and equipment costs. If you want something customized, then you have to be willing to spend more since customization options can be more costly.   

If you’re working with a good contractor or installer, you can trust that they can offer you the best option for your budget. Whatever the final bill is, think of it as an investment. The exchange is a more efficient and productive warehouse. And that means a higher percentage of profitability for your company.  

Map The Whole Layout 

Mapping the entire layout of your warehouse doesn’t have to be a highly technical and complicated process. In fact, it can be as simple as drawing on pencil and paper or your whiteboard when you’re discussing in the board room.   

While this may only be a simple step, it is, however, one of the best ways to picture what you envision for your warehouse. To make that map as effective as possible, make sure that it includes everything from the small details like doors to the bigger ones like office spaces.   

After making that simple sketch and having that unanimously approved by the whole team, that’s when you can then proceed to have a computerized layout through advanced software. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, there are expert layout artists you can hire to help you in this process. With their expertise, you can be sure that every single aspect and scale measurement of your pallet racking system and warehouse layout is accurate to the dot. 

Get To Know The Latest Trends In Pallet Racking Systems 

The latest trends in pallet racking systems are popular for a reason. It means most warehouses adopt these as they proved to be successful in optimizing the warehouse’s operations. It’s, therefore, a good idea to understand how the different trends in warehouse design have evolved and changed.  

The main difference in pallet racking system layouts from the past and present is that in the former, wide spaces weren’t as much of an issue as they are now. As real estate prices soared, rent per square foot became more expensive. It means that modern warehouses nowadays are designed such that the vertical space is maximized more than having quite a vast horizontal expanse. 

Choose From Among The Different Kinds Of Pallet Racking Systems 

There are several pallet racking systems companies can choose from for their warehouses. With that in mind, you can easily find one that suits your warehouse’s unique needs and preferences. To give you an idea, below are some of the different kinds of pallet racking systems you may choose from: 

1. Selective Pallet Racking 

This type of pallet racking system is one of the most common, given how it provides direct access to different kinds of products. This fact also makes it one of the best types to navigate through the entire warehouse. 

2. Push Back Pallet Racking 

Push Back Pallet Racking is a high-density pallet racking system that is the best choice for storing a high volume of products. The last-in, first-out system is the best configuration to use for this pallet racking type.     

3. Pallet Flow Racking 

The pallet flow racking system is a good option for businesses with a quick inventory turnover. The first-in, first-out system is also perfect for pallet flow racking. 

4. Cantilever Racking 

This pallet racking system type is best for companies with a longer-sized inventory. These include steel, metal, and timber, among many other examples. 

5. Drive-In/Drive-Thru Pallet Racking 

Like the push-back pallet racking system, the drive-in/drive-thru pallet racking is another one your company can utilize if you have a high volume inventory of products. It is also more space-efficient than selective racking; it uses 35 inches less of floor space. 

6. Carton Flow Pallet Racking 

Carton Flow Pallet Racking is a specialized type of inclined pallet racking system meant to support carton order picking. 

Another aspect to consider when planning your pallet racking layout is the potential use of used warehouse racks. Opting for these racks can be a good decision for businesses aiming to optimize their warehouse space while managing costs. Used racks often come from previous installations and can offer the same level of functionality and durability as new ones, but at a more budget-friendly price point. This approach not only helps in reducing expenses but also contributes to sustainability by reusing resources. When selecting used racks, it's crucial to verify their condition and compatibility with your current warehouse design to ensure safety and efficiency.

Always Consider Your Specific And Unique Needs 

Regardless of the type of pallet racking system you choose, one of the most important reminders to keep in mind is to consider your specific and unique needs. Otherwise, no matter how efficient a certain pallet racking system may claim to be, it may not work to be the best for your company. That mismatch still brings in an inefficient and poorly optimized pallet racking system.   

You can go through this process more successfully if you keep in mind the weight, size, and shape of all the products you’re selling. If you’re selling certain products with specific safety requirements, you have to include those as well. 

Final Thoughts 

After going through the list above, you may realize that many essential principles apply when designing a pallet racking system. Whichever way you choose to stack and organize your pallets, the most important thing to remember is to focus on optimization. Without a proper layout and design, your warehouse will continue to suffer productivity and efficiency issues no matter its size. Lastly, automate where you can, as this is the top solution to helping the warehouse management team stay on top of its daily operations. 

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