Key Points:

  • Effective warehouse design increases the efficiency of warehouse operations, boosting profitability and customer satisfaction
  • Poor warehouse design can directly impact the flow of staff and materials. This will lead to a continued decrease in speed, productivity and efficiency
  • Easyship can help you effortlessly scale your fulfillment capabilities without increasing costs, through instant access to our partner warehouses around the world

Many businesses overlook the significance of warehouse design, however it can play an important role in the success of a business. This article explores the benefits of warehouse design, the impact it has on productivity, safety and even customer satisfaction. Plus, how effective warehouse design can incorporate digital and physical automation to increase operation efficiency.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Importance of Warehouse Design

An effective warehouse design and layout can help you increase productivity and operational efficiency, which can boost profits in the long run. While an inefficient warehouse design can impact speed, efficiency, productivity ultimately start to reduce the profitability of your business. Key issues from an ineffectively optimized warehouse include:

  • Messy inventory management
  • Poorly executed warehouse operations
  • Unprepared for seasonal demand
  • Slow order processing time
  • Increasing labor costs

Optimizing warehouse operations through efficient design can create a solid foundation to build on for further optimization. The layout and organization of your warehouse's physical space should complement the systems and processes that drive your everyday operations. An effective warehouse layout should work with these key considerations in mind:

  • Fulfillment strategy
  • Picking system
  • Type, size and frequency of orders
  • Overall available space

The Impact of Warehouse Design on Productivity

Not all types of products come in a single size or weight. An effective warehouse storage layout design will use the storage area to its maximum capacity. This will enable the safe storing of products, with storage space designed for stored goods of a range of different dimensions and weights.

An efficient floor plan and designated traffic flow routes can create an effective warehouse layout design. This can also allow staff fast and safe access when picking items. This can crucially help improve overall supply chain efficiency, quality control and the cost-effectiveness of order fulfillment in the warehouse space.

The Importance of Safety in Warehouse Design

The layout of your warehouse plays an important role in creating a safe working environment. From falling objects to collisions with other workers and even fires can occur in all types of warehouses without the right design. These risks also all impact the effectiveness of packing and shipping for order preparation.

When reviewing warehouse design, the best place to start are the guidelines laid out in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Following current procedures and recommendations for materials handling and storage can ensure employee satisfaction, plus increase operational efficiency by removing safety risks.

Working with reputable storage design companies can help ensure the design and pallets are made for items the warehouse handles. Storage and pallets may not be suitable for other items and can create a risk if they break when transporting goods. Research the storage systems available through well-known storage design companies and combine these with OSHA guidelines to help mitigate safety risks.

The Impact of Warehouse Design on Customer Satisfaction

Warehouse design can play a crucial role in customer satisfaction. They are the bridge between your online store and the end customer. A warehouse with an efficient loading and unloading area or picking area design can help you meet customer expectations. Efficiently processing orders is pivotal to improve your on time delivery rate.

The capacity to efficiently handle and process returns can also play a key role in boosting customer satisfaction. Optimizing your warehouse design to include this function, can enable a smooth returns process that customers trust. While also extending the item's lifecycle through reuse, recycling or refurbishment.

Warehouse layout optimization also allows you to meet consumer demand for products that are at risk of demand fluctuations. Combined with a stock management system, having the capacity to fulfill demand planning requirements can make sure your store doesn't suffer from stock shortages.

Related post: 4 Modern Warehouse Trends to Watch in 2022


The Role of Technology in Warehouse Design

Smart warehouses are increasingly showcasing their ability to optimizing the entire supply chain. Incorporating the use of advanced technologies in warehouse layout can represent the future of successful eCommerce stores. There are generally three levels of warehouse automation implementation:

Manually Run Warehouses

Some warehouses still use legacy systems and retain traditional warehouse design due to a range of reasons. While some invested heavily outdated systems, others may believe their operations don't need to be automated, or are unaware of the benefits.

Not incorporating technology in warehouse design can slow down productivity and increases the time taken to fulfill orders. No matter how efficient your storage layout, relying on human workers can increase the margin for error. Memorizing item locations, pushing order picking carts or pallet jacks, plus picking and moving them around to the next item are all potentially automated roles.

Digital Automation

A warehouse management system (WMS) is digital automation software. It can help ensure warehouses are well organized, not wasting space, and increase item picking and packing efficiency. These platforms can also help customize workflow and picking processes to ensure a warehouse is designed for optimized inventory allocation, maximizing storage space.

The data available through a WMS can also help drive efficient warehouse design. Allowing you to easily identifying which stock is picked the most often and grouping these together, plus identify seasonal patterns. Analyze your current and projected data on a range of essential warehouse activities:

  • Receiving
  • Shipping
  • Quality inspection
  • Forward picking
  • Cross docking
  • Reverse storage
  • Special handling areas

While a WMS can help unlock a more efficient warehouse through organizing, managing and processing operations, it can be limited by the warehouse design. Including a WMS in your warehouse design from the outset can help support the potential return on investment of both.

Physical Automation

While WMS are a key example of digital automation, implementing physical automation in warehouses requires special design consideration. This will optimize the space for machines that can transfer goods without human employees. Major benefits of investing in this technology include improving productivity and efficiency through:

  • Reducing human error
  • Minimizing labor
  • Improve real-time inventory control
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Boost material handling coordination
  • better scalability

Physical labor can be reduced or eliminated through the following high-tech handling systems:

  • Automated guided vehicles
  • Collaborative robots
  • Autonomous mobile robots
  • Automated storage and retrieval systems
  • Wearables
  • Pick-to-light and put-to-light systems
  • Voice picking
  • Automated Sortation Systems

In general, any logistic operation in a warehouse has the potential to be automated. A modern warehouse design can implement advanced logistic solutions that are still emerging and haven't reached their full potential. Blockchain, 5G, machine learning and big data are fundamental parts of the industrial internet of things. This technology enables robots to operate autonomously using the data collected by WMS, linking together physical and digital automation.

Seamlessly Scale Your Fulfillment Capabilities With Easyship

Warehouse design can play a key role in the success of a business. From promoting productivity and safety, to boosting customer satisfaction and allowing easily implementing of cutting edge tech. Investing in a well-designed warehouse can help your business achieve long term success through operational efficiency.

If your online store is growing, and you need storage space, Easyship specializes in scaling fulfillment capabilities without increasing costs. Our warehouse partners specialize in eCommerce fulfillment. Helping you store, pick and pack your orders, so you don't have to learn how to design warehouse layouts.

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