The warehouse setup process need not be difficult and stressful. Follow this checklist to ensure you don’t make any of the common warehouse setup mistakes and get set up for success.
Loading docks are important in warehouses because they serve as the primary point of entry and exit for goods being shipped and received. They allow for the efficient loading and unloading of trucks and other vehicles, which is critical for maintaining the flow of goods in and out of the warehouse. Additionally, loading docks can also be used to transfer goods between different areas of the warehouse, such as between storage and shipping areas.
The location of the loading docks will likely determine the rest of the warehouse layout, so make sure this area meets your needs.
One of the most important aspects of choosing or setting up a warehouse space is the size and location of the doors, as well as their type. Warehouse doors come in many formats including roll-up, overhead, sliding etc.
It’s important to consider the size and type of doors needed for the types of vehicles and equipment that will be entering and exiting the warehouse, as well as the volume of traffic.
The larger the door, the more the inside of the building is exposed to the elements each time that door opens, so selecting the right door can help improve energy efficiency.
Bear in mind that all doors will require different types of maintenance, which is important as proper door maintenance can prevent potential safety hazards and help to keep the warehouse running smoothly.
If your building is tall this allows for extra vertical racking, this is a flexible way to quickly increase your warehouse storage capacity.
Racking and shelving can be a great way to increase your storage space but bear in mind that the higher the items are placed, the harder it can be to retrieve them.
Low-level racking should be used for fragile items to lessen the chance of breakages, and for heavier or bulkier items so it takes less effort to move them.
If you don’t need vertical storage, you could consider adding a second floor. A mezzanine floor is a good way to maximise floor space without a full warehouse redesign, and you can also install a mezzanine conveyor for safe and efficient inter-floor transport.
It’s likely you’ll be using forklifts, pallet trucks, and other lifting equipment in your warehouse space. Make sure to have enough aisle space for forklifts and lift truck traffic. The width required will generally be based on what models of forklift or equipment you are using as they will vary in terms of turning radius and reach. Try to give forklift operators as wide a path as possible to lessen the risk of collisions or accidental product damage.
Fast-moving and best-selling items should be as close to the packing area as possible. Commonly bundled items such as batteries should also be close at hand. You could utilise ‘forward staging’ to improve picking speed by having areas of fast-moving stock closer to the packing area. Slow-moving items should be in a separate zone. Be prepared for these fast-moving items to change, however, so make sure your forward storage solution can suit a range of product sizes to suit any eventuality.
Consider if your products need to be in a temperature-controlled environment, as if this is the case, you’ll need to consider how the items are taken to and then retrieved from this space and how long that journey takes. Ideally, you want these items to arrive at the warehouse space and be unloaded and transported to the correct area as quickly as possible.
Changing the warehouse space can be costly and time-consuming, but inefficient processes can be more damaging long term.
Laying out the warehouse sequentially can be a good idea, with each warehouse process having its own zone, with the neighbouring zone being for the next process. Make sure each zone is given ample space to expand (even temporarily) as required.
When setting up your warehouse, it may seem obvious, but the type of products you’ll be storing and distributing should be considered.
Things like the size and shape of your products should be taken into account as this dictates what type of storage systems should be used. Items that don’t stack can cause headaches when trying to place them in standard racking, so you may need to consider an alternative storage option.
Some products you want to sell may have special storage requirements, for example, food products may need to be in a temperature-controlled environment. Hazardous materials also require special storage considerations and to be kept away from certain other products.
Fragile items also often require special storage or handling considerations. It’s often good practice to have nothing placed on the floor itself during storage as this can lead to pest damage, damp, and mould, especially in non-environmentally controlled environments.
The returns area can be one of the more chaotic areas of any warehouse space, if the returns area isn’t managed effectively it can take up a lot of space and time.
Many companies handle reverse logistics as a separate process and dedicate a generous amount of space to this as items need to be unpacked, checked, disposed of, or repackaged. As returned products are diverse, there’s not often a defined returns process for every single item. Some items can take longer to process.
To find out more about the problems that returns can cause for retailers, read our returns guide here
The correct heating and cooling system is important as it affects the productivity of employees and can lead to an uncomfortable working environment. There are many ways to heat a warehouse, such as gas heaters, electric heaters, and radiant heaters, but some have a larger cost or carbon footprint than others.
In loading areas, air curtains could be used to keep cold or hot air out of the warehouse. In the summer, however, fans may be required to help distribute fresh air.
Good warehouse lighting will make a difference to any warehouse space, and it is surprising how often this is overlooked. Employees are more productive in brighter light as they can see what they’re doing more clearly, and are less likely to make mistakes in picking, packing, and reading paperwork. It may be worth adding additional task lighting and workspace lighting to packing stations for this reason.
Improving lighting can also decrease the chance of accidents as the employees can see what they’re doing better.
Installing new lighting also gives you the opportunity to save money on your energy bills by opting for energy-efficient LED lighting, this type of lighting doesn’t give off heat so it can also save money on air conditioning costs.
Walkways & Barriers
Walkways and barriers are necessary to protect both people and products. Pedestrian walkway barriers are a great way to direct foot traffic in the warehouse and keep people in safer areas and out of the way of vehicles and lifting equipment.
Forklift barriers are necessary to protect the building and products from accidental damage, these barriers come in many shapes, sizes and materials.
Picking & Packing Areas
If you are shipping items out from the warehouse you’ll need somewhere to prepare and package items ready to be sent to your customers. Remember, flexibility is often the key to running an efficient warehouse, so consider adopting lean work cells or packing areas, these can be designed in a modular fashion or with the ability to adjust to the user for quick reconfiguration. Planning out your picking workflow ahead of time can be a great way to find areas for improvement. You should continuously keep track of picking & packing processes to improve order accuracy & efficiency.
Conveyors are used in warehouses to move materials and products efficiently and effectively. They are a cost-effective way to move large volumes of goods over long distances and can be used to transport items to and from loading docks, storage areas, and packaging stations.
Conveyors can also be used to sort, inspect, and assemble products, and they can be integrated with other warehouse equipment such as robots and automated storage and retrieval systems. Additionally, conveyors can help to reduce the need for manual labour and increase efficiency, productivity, and safety in the warehouse.
There are many types of conveyors, each suited to different tasks. For example, when unloading vehicles, expandable roller conveyors on wheels are often used as they can be set up, used, and then wheeled away for storage. Whereas in the warehouse, belt conveyors are often used for transporting irregularly shaped products, packets, and parcels from the packing area to the shipping area.
Trolleys are used in warehouses to transport goods and materials efficiently and safely. They can be used to move large or heavy items, such as boxes, pallets, and containers, around the warehouse, allowing workers to move goods more easily and reducing the risk of injury.
Trolleys can also be used to transport goods between different areas of the warehouse, such as storage areas, loading docks, and packaging stations. They can also be used to sort and organize items and can be integrated with other warehouse equipment such as conveyors and automated storage and retrieval systems.
Trolleys are typically made of durable materials and can be outfitted with wheels and casters for easy movement.
Computer workstations are essential in the warehouse space for accessing the warehouse management system and updating information. The type of workstations needed in a warehouse will depend on the specific tasks and operations being performed.
Packing workstations and packing benches are needed to package and prepare products for shipping. They may include scales, tape dispensers, and labelling equipment.
Shipping and receiving stations are used to process incoming and outgoing shipments. They may include computer terminals, scanners, and other equipment to track and process orders.
Inspection stations are used to inspect and quality-check products before they are shipped, as well as in the returns area. These types of workstations may include magnifying glasses, measuring tools, and other equipment.
Team leader workstations and podiums are a great way to allow team leaders to oversee the ongoing warehouse operations.
Security & Storage
Security systems are required in warehouses, not only to prevent theft but also to prevent accidents, for insurance purposes, and to monitor the overall safety of the warehouse.
Some areas of the warehouse can be restricted through the use of access controls such as security cards.
The warehouse should be equipped with CCTV cameras to monitor activity and deter theft in all areas, but special attention should be given to high-value item storage. There are several ways to ensure the safety of high-value items in a warehouse one is to use secure storage for high-value items, such as a locked room or cage to prevent unauthorized access.