Stockroom shelving tips to support speed

Traditionally, storage systems were designed to serve only one purpose: to hold goods until they were needed. However, today’s approach to storage has definitely reshaped the way racking and shelving is regarded, especially as all efforts are channelled towards improving productivity and speed.

In this hunt for speed and efficiency within warehouses and distribution centres, as well as stockrooms and retail outlets, storage systems like racks and shelves are essential components of facility processes, as they virtually touch every piece that passes through. To that effect, the bigger the better concept no longer prevails, as shelving solutions now focus on optimising available space, reducing labour costs and adaptability to business changes.

Obviously, the continuous growth of the e-commerce market also had a great impact on this shift in approach, because now businesses have to get their products in and keep it in for as little time as possible before shipping it off to the consumer and both inbound and outbound activities need to be performed more quickly than ever before. It may seem like a daunting task, but supporting speedy operations is not really all that difficult, all you need is the right approach and the right system, so here are some stockroom shelving tips that will help with the process.

Invest in the right type of Storage Layout

The way products are stored and retrieved is not impacted by the type of containers solely, but also by the layout of available space, more specifically the layout of the storage systems within the available space. Standard units may not always make the most of your space and wasted space in a stockroom equals wasted money, which is why designed solutions are the best way to go about it most of the time. This means that you can have stockroom shelving systems designed as to best fit your area and make use of all the space, especially vertical space. When racks and shelves were only designed to hold goods for shorter or longer periods of time, a stockroom would most certainly be filled with selective racking, most probably single-deep bays. However, this approach was far from supporting rapid order fulfilment, as businesses began realising that fast-movers need to be stored differently than slow-movers.

Using the vertical space as in the form of picking mezzanine with shelving can do wonders for a stockroom, as well as for a warehouse or DC. Combined with other different types of shelving solutions and racking systems, each with its designated space, this approach will result in a higher volume of work being done in less space and by fewer workers. As business needs and conditions change, stockrooms might need to expand to respond to higher volumes of stock, but relocation is more often than not an extremely expensive solution and an un-wanted interruption in business operations, which is why making good use of all available space and allowing for flow and transformation of storage systems is so important.

Know your Pallets

If you operate a small warehouse or your racking needs are not exactly the biggest on the market, then you might just do with pallet racking kits, which are already selected complete systems that suit certain pallet sizes and quantities. While this may be an obviously more economical solution to your pallet storage needs, it also requires that you know exactly the type of pallets coming in your warehouse.

It is a known fact that euro pallets are not as wide as UK pallets, so you’d need different types of frames when you store Euro Pallets as opposed to when you store 1000mm wide or 1200mm wide UK Pallets. The weight of the pallet is also a factor to be taken into account, as it can determine how high you can go with your racking system. Pallet racks can feature 3 or 4 levels or even more, but whether you go for the stocked kits or for custom designs, you need to be aware of the weight you’re placing on the racks.

Height utilisation is an important component of warehouse storage solutions, because wasted space equals wasted money and a properly designed solution will always look to maximise storage space while minimising the use of floor space. This vertical storage solution is also quite economical from an investment point of view, although there’s the additional cost of a racking crane, if you don’t already have one, as to be able to access higher levels.

Plan for the Future

Cost of storage is a greatly debated topic, with some facility managers looking at stockrooms and storage areas as money draining centres, but it is obvious that one cannot look at this in a vacuum, because investing in the wrong type of shelving can prove to cost you a lot more and long after it’s installed. So, when choosing a design for your stockroom shelving systems, think about both short term and long term needs and keep an eye on the future.

Modular shelving solutions help you do that, for instance, by allowing you to add on to your shelves and racks later on, should your business and stock needs grow. Even if you’re not investing in these systems now, planned additions or expansion will prove a lot less disruptive to your business operations, which is imperative in the today’s world of same day shipping and next day delivery. Simply put, the better you plan all your storage needs from the beginning, taking into account future needs and changes as well, the easier it will be for you to maintain a speedy product movement no matter what comes your way.

Be Business Intelligent

When it comes to distribution centres and warehouses, the focus will fall heavily on WMS, picking technologies and lift trucks, but for stockrooms the scrutiny is all on racking and shelving with the objective to optimise slotting and increase productivity. The bottom line is that stockroom shelving systems should not hamper the speed of product storage and retrieval, neither should they allow for too much empty space, otherwise business operations are limited. To that extent, business intelligence began having a significant impact on storage optimisation, so if you want stockroom shelving solutions that support speed of product retrieval and shipping, reduced labour costs and optimum use of space, then be sure to invest in systems that give you the business intelligence you need: knowing an item’s location, having the ability to quickly put it away and retrieve it and so on.

Before, the decision of buying one type of shelving or racking over the other was easily made by focusing on price. Now, the focus is on productivity, as racking costs can be made up in manpower, so analysis of business information will help you see the big picture rather than focusing on one metric and losing perspective of the others.

When the stockroom is newly built, then it becomes easier to properly fit it with the right type of storage systems and the best suited layout for your business, but for retrofits it’s more challenging, because one must work within given limitations. Here’s where choosing the right design service becomes essential, as the entire project can make or break your facility’s efforts to ensure fast product movement.