Crunched for Warehouse Space? Think Packaging!

By Eric Carlson | Senior Packaging Consultant, Packaging Optimization | Chainalytics

The recent onslaught of e-commerce demand in the U.S. means warehouse space is at a premium, according to Chainalytics’ service provider partner, CBRE.

Combine soaring warehouse rental or purchase costs with a dearth of construction, and it’s clear that the days of simply expanding a warehouse are mostly gone, for the foreseeable future. All of which spells change for companies that need to save money, optimize space and think holistically about their supply chains.

A Better Approach for Managing Constrained Warehouse Space: Make the Most of It

So how can you optimize your warehouse to make the most of it? Most companies’ operations do a pretty good job of tracking inventory, understanding stock quantities and running a very good WMS, with slotting exercises only slightly less common.

But most options for a expanding a constrained warehouse environment require detailed justification and capital budget allocation – not to mention operational disruption. If your company’s looking for a way to maximize constrained warehouse space, consider the following:telecom-client-case-study-image

  • Reset steel racking for narrow aisles, which typically requires different lift trucks, but can be done in stages for less operational disruption and a lot more rack space.
  • Use your vertical landscape, which means you may need to buy new lift trucks or replace some steel. This option is currently in vogue in many parts of the world, and can also be accomplished in stages and/or combined with the reset for narrow aisles. You may not need to buy all new uprights – some rack manufacturers can provide extensions to increase upright height.
  • Implement a high-density storage area for smaller products and/or non full-pallet quantities or use a high-density vertical carousel, which enables maximizing vertical storage capacity while enabling a sortable pick-pack system with fast retrieval speeds for smaller items
  • Change the space layout for better use of space (this approach is usually less common and less effective)
  • Install mezzanines to ensure that all higher level storage space is utilized to capacity
  • Install track-guided, very narrow aisles, which requires new lift truck equipment
  • Right-size your packaging, so you not only reduce packaging costs and warehouse space requirements but also achieve better trailer utilization, lower logistics costs and boost your sustainability metrics. The ripple effects of these cost impacts are especially high if you are manufacturing in Asia and shipping to the Americas, Europe or Mexico.

In the case of our telecom client, the packaging optimization project cost them virtually nothing to implement from a capital investment standpoint and caused no disruption to the business or daily warehouse operations

Packaging optimization has profound results that “percolate through your supply chain.” Think what better use of space and air could do for your constrained warehouse space problems AND your all-in packaging and logistics costs.

A lifetime IoPP (Institute of Packaging Professionals) certified packaging professional, Chainalytics’ Senior Packaging Consultant Eric Carlson helps clients manage packaging challenges with a high degree of complexity that stems from their unique combination of scale, variability and geography.

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