How to Maximise Your Warehouse Space

When an operation gets big enough many warehouse operators start looking for a bigger space to move into. However, before they do so, they can save a lot of time and money by increasing the potential of their existing space. Here are five ideas to help you visualise how you might maximise your warehouse space without moving locations.

Double your space with a Mezzanine Floor

A mezzanine floor is one of the classic tried and true ways to maximise your warehouse space. Warehouses are often built with a lot of vertical space, with high roofs and plenty of room for expansion upwards. A mezzanine floor is a semi-permanent or free-standing structure within a warehouse that acts as a second floor within the building. They help utilise the vertical space available in warehouses by making it available for storage or use in a variety of warehouse activities, essentially doubling the amount of available floor space without having to change locations.

Upgrade your Pallet Racking system

Pallet racking is the most popular method of warehouse storage available on the market today. It is a system of storage that works by placing items on a pallet and then stowing them in horizontal rows with multiple levels, maximising the warehouse space available for storage.

It is important to understand the differences between different pallet racking systems before deciding on which one is right for your warehouse. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Selective Pallet Racking. The simplest form of pallet racking, this method involves installing racks in horizontal rows with multiple levels, with aisles in-between.
  • Double Deep Pallet Racking. Double deep pallet racking is the same as selective pallet racking, except that pallets are stored two rows deep. This means that the front pallets need to be moved in order to reach the ones behind them. While less convenient than selective pallet racking it does double the amount of space available.
  • Drive-in Pallet Racking. This form of pallet racking removes the aisles between racks and stores the pallets in a large block. It works by driving a forklift into the rack to take the last box that was stored inside. This method is great for fast-moving stock but only allows you to take out the last pallet that was stored in the row.

Ensure that your Beam Placement maximises your vertical space

Rack beams are the structures that act as different levels in a pallet racking system. When a pallet is placed inside the rack there should be approximately six inches of space between the top of the boxes on the pallet and the rack beam above them. If there is more space than this it might be worth considering changing the heights of the pallet racks to maximise vertical space.

Optimise your use of empty space

One of the easiest ways to maximise warehouse space is to minimise how much unused empty space you allow. A simple way to increase your storage capacity is to reduce the space between aisles and add extra pallet racks as a result. In doing so, however, you should ensure that there is still enough space to safely manoeuvre around the warehouse.

Think about the utilisation of unusual spaces

Most warehouses only use the warehouse floor for storage and business operations, however, there are plenty of other spaces that remain underutilised simply because they are ignored. A perfect example of this is the space above the dock doors. Building a mezzanine floor or pallet racking system above dock doors is a perfect way to increase your warehouse space without disrupting the flow of traffic.

When Should You Replace Your Warehouse Storage Systems

Warehouse storage systems are at the core of most businesses that deal with goods. An up to date storage system affects productivity, cost efficiency and the safety of your workers, which is why ensuring that it is functioning effectively is important to the bottom line of your business. It can be difficult, however, to decide when it might be time to replace your existing warehouse storage systems, so here are a few tips on when you should start thinking about doing so:

You find you don’t have enough space for your activities

This is probably the most straightforward reason for replacing your warehouse storage system. You simply don’t have enough space. As the primary purpose of a storage system is to have a space to put your stock, this is a bit of a no-brainer. How you go about replacing your warehouse storage system is another question.

The first option is to buy a completely new pallet racking system that is bigger and better than your previous one, or if your existing one works fine you can buy additional racks to use instead. On the other hand, if you do find that you’ve used all the floor space that you can you might consider being a little more imaginative with the layout of your warehouse.

One of the interesting things you might consider is to install a mezzanine floor, which is a freestanding structure that acts as a second floor above your existing one. You may use it to double the amount of floor space you have, or you can use it to raise administrative and leisure areas like offices and lunch break rooms off the warehouse floor to create more space for stock.

Your productivity is starting to slow down

Often productivity is not the fault of employees but simply a function of the system that is in place in a warehouse. Fundamental to this is the pallet racking system you have chosen for the storage of your stock. Not all pallet racking systems are designed for every type of stock. Selective pallet racking is great when you have a variety of goods that need to be easy to reach, while double deep pallet racking is useful for increasing your available space or drive-in pallet racking for high-volume fast-moving stock. Replacing your current warehouse storage system with the right kind can seriously increase productivity.

Another issue might be stock that is overpacked and hard to find due to crowding. Once again a mezzanine floor can work wonders here, expanding the amount of floor space available for storage and movement, without having to move to a new location.

You find yourself constantly making repairs

An old warehouse storage system can be a serious headache. While a quality pallet racking system should last for years, it can begin to show wear-and-tear over time. If you find yourself constantly making repairs, particularly to vertical uprights, horizontal beans and diagonal braces, you might consider saving money in the long term by replacing your warehouse storage system.

You are moving to a new space

Moving to a new space is the perfect opportunity to look at your current storage system and decide whether you need to replace it. If the existing system is old or inefficient then a new one can be a cost-efficient investment into your business’s future. A pallet racking system or mezzanine floor can be easily replaced during a move, with the old system thrown away and the new one installed in the transition.

How to Optimise Space In Your Warehouse

If your business has grown significantly and you are thinking of moving to a larger warehouse, you might want to think about optimising your existing space first. Here are some simple ways of maximising the space in your warehouse.

Install a mezzanine floor to maximise your storage space

One of the simplest and most popular ways of optimising space in your warehouse is to introduce a mezzanine floor. Mezzanine floors are freestanding structures that create a second floor within your warehouse space, significantly increasing storage space without having to move premises, and because they are freestanding they can be raised and removed without altering your existing space.

Create a raised area for your office

To maximise the space in your warehouse, you shouldn’t only think about how to more efficiently store your goods, but also how the staff areas in your warehouse are used in relation to your storage space. Office spaces, break rooms and other facilities are an important part of any warehouse, however, they can take a significant amount of floor space away from storage. Using a mezzanine floor to raise these spaces can free up more of the warehouse floor for your goods, while still providing you with the administrative spaces that you need.

Make great use of pallet racking

Pallet racking has been around for a very long time and has proven time and again to be one of the best ways to maximise your storage space. Pallet racking is a storage system where materials are placed on pallets and then stored on horizontal rows with multiple levels. While this is the simple explanation of what pallet racking is, there are in fact many different types of pallet racking systems that might be right for your business:

  • Selective Pallet Racking. Selective pallet racking is the most basic form of the storage system. It works by constructing racks in aisles throughout your warehouse. Pallets are then placed along these racks one pallet deep so that you always have easy access to every single pallet in your storage.
  • Double Deep Pallet Racking. Double deep pallet racking is similar to selective pallet racking, except that instead of storing pallets one deep, they are stored two deep. This means that in order to access the back row of pallets the front row needs to be moved. The major advantage of this is that it reduces the amount of aisles, which is unused space, and almost doubles the number of storage spaces.
  • Drive-in Pallet Racking. Drive-in pallet racking gets rid of aisles altogether and stores pallets in a single continuous block. When a pallet is needed a forklift is driven into the rack to take out the last box that was placed inside. This is an excellent solution for businesses that have fast moving stock and need to maximise their use of floor space. The disadvantage is that the forklift can only access the last pallets placed into the rack, which means that it is not a useful system for warehouses with slower moving products.
  • Narrow Aisle Pallet Racking. Narrow aisle pallet racking is another way of maximising the amount of storage space available by reducing the amount of space delegated to aisles. Because the aisles are so narrow the warehouse will have to use turret trucks or automated stacker cranes to access the stored pallets.

Keep Your Warehouse Safe

Keeping your warehouse safe should be the top priority for any business owner who is serious about protecting their workers and assets. There are many potential hazards in a warehouse, including fall zones, chemical storage areas, heavy machinery, pallets and mezzanine floors. The good news is that, with the proper planning and equipment, keeping your warehouse safe doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five key basic pieces of warehouse safety equipment to protect you and your workers:

Up and over pallet gates for easy access to mezzanine floors

Moving heavy goods between the mezzanine and ground floor is often one of the most dangerous tasks in any warehouse space. The chance of falls and impact damage from falling objects is a serious concern, which is why having a simple and safe way to transport goods between floors is crucial to warehouses and commercial areas. The up and over pallet safety gate offers a safe and convenient portal to move goods up and down different levels in your warehouse. It works by acting as a barrier between the worker and the lifting mechanism on the lower floor, heavily reducing the chance of falls and accidents.

Staircases built for safety and convenience

Staircases are an important feature in any warehouse with multiple floors, however, if they are not designed with safety in mind they can be a serious hazard. A properly designed staircase should provide an easy and convenient way to move between floors while reducing the possibility of accidents. That’s why its advisable for every warehouse staircase to be made with durable material, offer a strong grip for shoes and have a heavy-duty guard rail to prevent falls. Staircases are not only important for day to day use but can offer safe escape routes in case of emergencies. That’s why staircases between floors in warehouses should be made to meet Australian fire safety requirements.

Pedestrian guards for uninterrupted flow of traffic

Warehouses floors are often used by both pedestrians and heavy-duty machinery such as forklifts. If left un-managed this can create a dangerous situation for everyone involved, which is why every warehouse serious about employee safety should install pedestrian guards to separate the flow of machine and foot traffic.

Rack and column safety features to protect against accidents

Racks and structural columns can often withstand a lot of vertical pressure but may be susceptible to impact damage from vehicles such as trucks or forklifts. Having proper rack and column safety features such as guards and impact protection can save both your infrastructure and your vehicles from accidental damage.

Clearly labelled hazard zones

Planning for accidents is always important, however, preventing them from happening in the first place is even better. There are many potential hazards in a warehouse that you cannot help like chemical storage areas, fall zones and vehicle access routes. Clearly labelling hazard zones and having strict rules about who can go where is one of the best ways to avoid accidents in the warehouse.