Need to Expand Your Warehouse Space? Let’s Evaluate.
Congested aisles. Crowded racks. Cluttered dock. How do you know when the time is right to expand your warehouse capabilities? It’s widely held that once storage capacity surpasses 85% utilization, there is a marked reduction in warehouse productivity. Movement becomes restricted which results in multiple actions to complete a task. There’s limited room to receive new goods and efficiency becomes strained. The resulting strain also affects safety in the warehouse, not to mention employee morale. If you are operating in this situation, it may be time to expand. Let’s take a look at some key points:
Aisle Design – How wide should your warehouse aisles be? To save space, the best practice is to utilize the minimum width required to match the type of forklift used. The size and turning radius of your forklifts will dictate the aisle width. And to maximize efficiency, it’s important to operate the right type of forklift for your application. Lift trucks used for handling unit loads in racked storage are categorized by the aisle widths they are designed to be operated in. 
- Wide Aisle – trucks are the standard counterbalanced lift trucks that have become synonymous with the term forklift. Wide aisle trucks generally operate in aisles greater than 11’ with 12’ being the norm.
- Narrow Aisle – trucks operate in aisles of 8’ to 10’. This is primarily the area of the stand-up reach and double-deep reach trucks.
- Very Narrow Aisle – trucks generally operate in aisles of less than 6’ and often use guidance systems (wire, rail, optical) to travel within the aisles. Standardized VNA vehicles consist of man-up order selectors used to manually handle less-than-pallet-load quantities and man-up turret trucks used to handle unit loads.
When deciding on aisle width, it's best to work with an engineer to determine the best solution based on your material handling needs and budget. Full-size CAD layouts will provide a scaled version of the project and define all the details.
Racking – To create space, consider changing your means of storage. But remember your racking layout should be based on the type of material handling equipment used for your operation. For pallet storage, you may want to invest in a racking system designed to increase storage density. Rather than single deep selective racking, there are other options such as double deep, push-back, or drive-in racks, all of which reduce the number of aisles used for storing and retrieving pallets. But again, the racking used will be determined by the lift truck and attachments required to do the job. Installation of cantilever racking is another way to increase storage space, providing easy access to hard-to-shelve items. They are the best solution to getting bulky items like lumber, piping, carpeting, and similar things off the floor.
Shelving – The addition of the right shelving and sorting system can aid in providing space. Live storage picking systems are used in operations with a large volume of picking. The shelving is angled and uses gravity to slide products down the line. This results in less time for order preparation and allows for a higher product capacity in the warehouse. In a multi-level warehouse or distribution center, pick modules are a solution for high-density storage. The system integrates various storage solutions in the process, allowing products to move more efficiently out the facility.
Mezzanine – Install a mezzanine in a high-ceilinged space to create additional floor space. A mezzanine is an intermediate floor (or floors) in a building which is open to the floor below. According to the International Building Code, a mezzanine(s) or the total of more than one can have as much as one-third of the floor space of the floor below. This results in a reasonable amount of additional floor space without major construction to the structure. Consult your local building codes for any variation to the code.
Modular Office – When you need to enclose people, a process, or products, a modular office may be the way to go. It offers some flexibility over permanent construction and provides additional space and organization. Many companies find modulars to be the answer for permanent office space, manufacturing enclosures, and machine enclosure solutions.
It’s pretty clear when looking to expand; the solutions are as diverse as the different warehouses that exist. We wanted to review some of the most common challenges and offer several options that are available. Whether deciding on new construction or renovating your current warehouse, it’s important to maximize space while maintaining a safe and organized environment. Action Lift’s Warehouse Solutions division is equipped to design and help you build warehouse space that will optimize your organization’s productivity. We also provide a fully-inclusive line of Allied Warehouse products offering plenty of solutions to help you maximize efficiency and minimize cost.
Consult with one of our experts for FREE Today: 570-655-2100.