Warehouse Layout 101: Top Factors To Consider While Designing Your Warehouse Layout and 8 Tips for Optimisation of Warehouse Layout Design in 2022

Your warehouse layout will eventually need to be changed to maximize productivity, whether your warehouse is brand-new or already operational.

One of the most important tasks for business owners is designing an ideal warehouse. The profitability of manufacturing and retail companies is increased by good practices that are promoted by an optimal warehouse layout. In addition, it is crucial to achieving any goals your company may have.

A well-designed warehouse can speed up delivery and simplify your workflow. However, it might negatively impact your supply chain, workflow, and shipment timeframes if you aren’t using the available warehouse space efficiently.

An efficient warehouse layout is essential to competitiveness in today’s market as every company seeks to streamline their eCommerce operations to satisfy client needs. It’s necessary to make sure your business is booming. Your productivity, which impacts your entire firm, will be significantly affected by your layout.

Furthermore, you will discover that it costs more money if done incorrectly. Decide what needs to be done to increase gains and decrease losses.

Find out why creating a perfect warehouse design is important in this article. Furthermore, this article addresses several crucial factors to bear in mind while creating a warehouse layout and illustrates the importance of a practical layout.

What is Warehouse Layout Design?

The formulation of a planimetric approach for a warehouse’s physical space, amenities, and operational areas is known as warehouse layout design. The goal is to increase profitability across all internal activities. Therefore, the creation of a warehouse’s layout, or lack thereof, significantly affects the eventual profits a firm produces and the expenditures associated with eCommerce logistics.

Before we continue, it’s essential to understand that the warehouse layout design should be considered at all stages of eCommerce administration, not just at the start of a company.

It makes sense and is typical for a company’s storage and processing area to expand as demand increases. Implement an effective warehouse layout design by making adjustments to ensure you make the most of your resources.

Designing a warehouse plan should become integral to your daily eCommerce administration.

Importance of Warehouse Layout Design

It is essential to design a functional warehouse layout since it directly affects the effectiveness and productivity of your warehouse. The processes should be set up in the intended structure in a logical order to streamline operations, increase productivity, and cut costs. In addition, a well-designed warehouse layout can reduce travel time, facilitate simple access to stored items, and improve order fulfilment rates.

Furthermore, it is crucial to consider all the requirements in accordance with your company’s needs throughout the planning stage itself. Changing the intended layout after your facility’s development has begun would be expensive due to the added material and labour expenditures.

Different Warehouse Layout Designs

The warehouse layout is greatly influenced by the available space and how things will flow throughout the entire operation.

U-shaped, I-shaped, and L-shaped are the primary shapes of warehouse layout flow that firms use to arrange their warehouse workflows.

When it comes to warehouse layout flows, there is no favourite. Finding the best fit depends on whether one works with what you already have and want to accomplish. All are beneficial in their unique ways.

U-Shaped Design

Of the three, the U-shaped warehouse flow is the most prominent. It is acknowledged as the ideal warehouse layout for newcomers. With shipping and receiving on opposite sides and storage in the centre, all components are set up in a semicircle.

The U shape is utilised to divide and simplify the main traffic flow in warehouses. To prevent bottlenecks, keep the entering and departing materials on opposite sides of the operation. This movement of items reduces the amount of space required. In addition, because the entry and exit are on the same side of the structure, fewer packages must be stored there, and staff may transport goods between receiving and shipping.

Production congestion may occur when shipping and receiving sites are adjacent and have similar domains, which is a disadvantage of the U-shaped flow.

I-Shaped Design

Large firms with more giant warehouses prefer the I-shaped warehouse flow. This is because larger businesses frequently have higher production volumes, and the I shape is helpful for its typical in-and-out workflow.

Receiving to shipment and vice versa flow directly in an I-shaped warehouse. This configuration is thought to maximize optimization since it uses the entire warehouse length, organises related products into an assembly line, and reduces bottlenecks by preventing back-and-forth movements.

The I form has the drawback of requiring businesses to have adequate loading and unloading areas on two sides of the warehouse structure. The cost of docking equipment for the inbound and outbound regions may grow, and items frequently have to travel the entire warehouse to get where they’re going.

L-Shaped Design

The least popular of the flow types is the L-shaped warehouse flow. Its highly odd layout was often chosen to accommodate an L-shaped building.

The shipping area is on one side of the L-shaped structure, while the receiving site is opposite at a 90-degree angle. Therefore, the benefits of the L-shaped and I-shaped flow are comparable.

The L form also reduces congestion by preventing back-and-forth movement and properly separating products with inbound and outbound docks on opposite sides. However, the L-shaped layout’s biggest drawback is the area required to operate this movement efficiently.

Possible Challenges Encountered When Designing Your eCommerce Warehouse

The proper warehouse plan should minimise most problems you can run into. But it’s crucial to plan to deal with issues.

You could encounter four main problems as you develop your warehouse design and start putting the chosen layout into practice.

  • Maintaining constant safety procedures are always performed in the warehouse is a significant concern. The layout should provide enough space to move about safely, and the warehouse should undergo routine maintenance to check the equipment’s security.
  • When designing a flexible layout, thinking about the future is crucial. This can entail employing demand planning to reserve particular shelving spaces to account for anticipated order changes.
  • Underutilizing space is a relatively surprising problem. Therefore, the design should account for and utilise every square foot of warehouse space.
  • On the other side, consuming space excessively is really risky. Overcrowding can provide a chaotic environment where accidents and disarray are likely to happen. Additionally, it may result in objects being mishandled or misplaced.

What are the Processes to be Followed When Designing Your Warehouse Layout?

The usefulness and effectiveness of your warehouse plan should be your primary concerns when you develop it.

You must explore other options for optimising the space to save expenses and boost production, in addition to how to fit all of your merchandise into the available area.

Here are the four main fulfilment processes to consider when planning your warehouse layout.

Receiving and Storing Materials In Warehouse

High operational costs and problems with stock control can result from a subpar warehouse receiving process. As soon as you receive new stock, your personnel should be ready to inspect each truckload and shipment, ensuring that the amount, quality of seals, and product codes match what you requested and anticipated.

Unloading inventory may need heavy lifting and tools like forklifts and pallet jacks, depending on their size and volume. Inventory can be kept on a palette, a shelf, or a container depending on the size, weight, and type of goods you sell.

Inventory Tracking

You’ll need a way to keep track of the inventory once it has been received so that you may sell it. However, manually tracking inventory will only get you so far, and once the volume of monthly orders rises, it will quickly become ineffective and expensive.

Real-time inventory tracking is a crucial component of the eCommerce supply chain and is essential for eCommerce firms that wish to grow.

Implement inventory management software that offers a real-time snapshot of current inventory levels to guarantee adequate stock to satisfy demand and refill inventory as necessary.

The correct technology investment will fuel your warehouse and position your team for success in inventory management.

Warehouse Picking

The process of selecting individual items from a fulfilment centre to fill customer orders is known as warehouse picking. It’s regarded as one of the most costly and labour-intensive processes for warehouses but is a crucial part of order fulfilment.

According to research gate, up to 55% of a distribution centre’s operational expenses might be attributed to warehouse picking. Therefore, warehouse selection is a top responsibility for businesses worldwide since it immediately affects customer happiness, brand reputation, and profitability.

The proper warehouse setup and layout design are required for the process to be as easy, precise, and effective as possible.

When selecting a picking method, facility managers and business owners must be cautious because it can make or break the efficiency of warehouse operations.

The size of the facility, the availability of financial and human resources, the quantity and frequency of client orders, the number of SKUs in stock, and the number of SKUs are some elements that affect the choice of a warehouse’s picking strategy.

Distribution Process

The shipping process will now begin. Your warehouse team is in charge of loading the trucks and ensuring that every order is correctly picked, packed, and sent when it leaves the warehouse. Ensure your warehouse has enough space to support many orders being loaded at once.

Additionally, you can decide whether to parent through significant national and international airlines, local parcel carriers, or a combination of all three. Of course, everything depends on where your warehouse and clients are. After deciding which carriers to work with, you can arrange pick-up times and negotiate shipping costs.

When orders are with the carrier, you may provide order tracking to customers to offer updates and let them know when to expect their delivery.

Top Factors to Consider While Designing Your Warehouse Layout

You may create an effective plan and streamline warehouse operations by considering the below ideas. The following are some of the most important things to think about:

Budget Management

It is crucial to evaluate your business requirements, go at related finances, and then plan the layout in accordance with those findings before beginning to develop your warehouse layout. Although you are advised to consider the best and most affordable option for your warehouse, you may come across some layout plans that are more detailed and pricey than others during this process.

Available Space

Utilizing the warehouse area to its full potential can increase operating efficiency, save travel time, and improve inventory visibility. The most space possible must be set aside for storage and inventory processing. In contrast, the area designated for office spaces, empty pallets, charging stations, etc., must be kept to a minimum. Furthermore, how you allocate space will affect the shelf layouts, installation capabilities, and product positioning inside your facility.

Flow Of Goods

When designing the layout of your warehouse, it is crucial to ensure the continual movement of supplies, workers, and equipment. You can prevent inefficient paths and disruptions by properly arranging your warehouse layout design to enable each function sequentially.

Accessibility

It is essential to consider simple access to all regions and goods in your facility when designing your warehouse layout. The facility’s layout should be created so that personnel can conveniently find and pick objects without relocating other items by efficiently navigating the space. As a result, your production will increase, and orders will be filled more quickly.

Equipment

Your warehouse layout design may be influenced by various equipment types, such as lifting and packing equipment, pallet racks, or conveyors. You can assess and build the best layout in accordance with your requirements and increase the efficiency of your business by determining the equipment required.

Throughput

The quantity of goods processed and transported through various warehouse procedures, such as receiving, putaway, storage, picking, packing, and shipping, is called throughput in a warehouse. You may create a layout for your warehouse that will guarantee an adequate flow of goods and allow room for the appropriate equipment by gathering and analysing this data.

Personnel

You can design your warehouse architecture so that it doesn’t restrict the productivity of your employees by taking into account the necessary staffing level, their present levels of training, shift schedules, and other relevant considerations. Additionally, the arrangement must be designed to support future additions of staff members and their needs safely.

Top 7 Benefits of Having an Optimized Warehouse Layout

A well-designed warehouse planning enables you to process orders efficiently and dramatically simplifies your operations. In this article, we will learn about the advantages of optimising warehouse layout, which will help you run your warehouse as efficiently as possible while saving you many procedures, time, and costs.

Maximum Productivity

Optimizing warehouse layout helps you increase efficiency regardless of the type of warehouse you use—retail warehouse, distribution centre, cold storage warehouse, or flexible space.

It aids in helping you plan a fluid inventory and material handling system to accommodate even the enormous volume of goods you’ll be transferring through your warehouse.

Improve Operations

Optimizing warehouse layout successfully enables organisations to cut back on operational time. Every process step, from acquiring inventory to shipping the finished goods, can be streamlined with assistance. Thanks to this, you will be able to manage the rising demands and adhere to strict deadlines.

More Efficient Workforce

With a well-designed warehouse plan, you can utilise your workforce as efficiently as possible. A good arrangement minimises interruption while streamlining the labour-intensive procedure. In the end, this increases your output incredibly cost-effectively without sacrificing quality.

Additional Storage Space

Optimizing your warehouse architecture increases the amount of space stored in your building. In addition, it enables you to examine your warehouse area and find empty spaces where you may add storage.

This can be accomplished by increasing the racking height, adding a mezzanine over a floor-level process, switching your storage medium, and narrowing aisles in the racking space.

You can keep more items in your warehouse and deliver more orders on time if you have more storage. This lowers the likelihood that you’ll miss a deadline.

Smoother Flow Of Traffic

You can decide the workstations and traffic patterns by implementing the ideal flow strategy for your warehouse. A more efficient traffic flow between the various departments can be established by designing each warehouse area per your needs.

Customer Contentment

One aspect that impacts whether a consumer would return is whether you provide outstanding services—timely delivery. Optimizing your warehouse architecture enables you to arrange and keep more in-demand commodities, which results in on-time order fulfilment and satisfied customers.

Restocking of the Warehouse

The flow of items from the storage racks to the picking shelves within the warehouse is made simple by an optimal arrangement. According to your logistical criteria, you can create efficient goods replenishment methods, minimising inefficiencies to the greatest extent possible.

8 Best Warehouse Layout Tips for Optimization

Following your decision to begin constructing your warehouse, you should make a few considerations. Then, make a checklist of these essential practices before designing the ideal layout for your company.

Set Your Specific Goals

You should be able to enhance overall workflow with a warehouse layout. Make sure your chosen warehouse plan supports your business’s unique goals before using this. These goals, such as improving order fulfilment or cutting down on shipping and delivery times, will aid in the design planning process and provide direction for your warehouse layout.

These goals must be defined, which include selecting warehouse management key performance indicators (KPIs), consulting with supply chain decision-makers, and maintaining open lines of communication with individuals engaged in daily warehouse operations.

Outline Warehouse’s Workflow

You must sketch the internal warehouse workflows and how each will relate to one another while conceptualising a warehouse layout design. The dock doors from which the carriers will drop off and pick up must also be planned.

Plan the optimal workspaces that will enhance efficiency, keep the warehouse orderly, and promote productivity for everything from receiving inventory to storing products on warehouse racks to picking and packaging items to preparing orders for shipment. Don’t forget to consider keeping your team’s general well-being and safety concerns to a minimum.

Optimize Storage

The correct inventory storage system should be used in a warehouse to optimise the picking, packing, and shipping procedures and assure order accuracy, efficiency, and speed.

Reorganising routes, zones, or even a full warehouse may appear complicated and time-consuming. However, determining the ideal way to keep merchandise can help you minimise carrying expenses. You’ll also need to move significant volumes of inventory to different areas, making sure to do it correctly to avoid problems with choosing.

Learn how warehouse slotting works so you may set up your warehouse for functionality and efficiency to maximise storage and warehouse procedures.

Keep Things In Order With Properly Labelling

Whenever in doubt, label it! Being as structured as possible is essential to keeping your warehouse layout operating smoothly. Labels can be used in various ways to guarantee that every item entering the warehouse is put exactly where it needs to be. In addition, employees in the warehouse who need to get ready for incoming customer orders might also benefit from labelling.

Train Warehouse Workforce

It’s crucial to ensure the people who run your warehouse are happy. When workers are clear on their expectations and how they might thrive in their positions, they are happier. A training procedure must be created before introducing a new warehouse layout to ensure that every warehouse worker is aware of the flow and knows what to do to maintain smooth circulation throughout the floor plan.

Monitor Inventory

Inventory management is essential for figuring out how much inventory you have, how much storage space you’ll need, and which warehouse plan would best meet your needs.

Execute Regular Maintenance

To ensure the effectiveness of your implemented warehouse plan, ongoing maintenance is required. In addition, the warehouse’s current procedures are checked for effectiveness and continued goal support throughout maintenance.

Ensuring all handling equipment appropriately is just one of the maintenance duties. Others include:

  • Servicing shipping and receiving trucks.
  • Keeping all warehouse operations clean.
  • Restructuring inventory and storage as necessary.
  • Doing quality control checks.

Employ Automation In Warehouses

A warehouse management system (WMS) keeps procedures operating smoothly by removing human error and utilising cutting-edge technologies. Software that manages staff productivity, keeps track of incoming and outgoing movements and synchronises storage and shipping procedures is all part of a WMS. With warehouse management systems, businesses can employ automation to monitor daily operations and guarantee that data is current and accessible at all times.

Conclusion

A warehouse’s design is a critical element in determining a warehouse’s success. You may increase production and efficiency while lowering operating expenses with an adequately completed warehouse layout optimization.

It creates a dependable system for easy inventory flow, lowers costs, and enables you to use available space efficiently. All of these lead to delivering outstanding client satisfaction and service.

If you are looking for eCommerce warehousing or fulfillment centers, WareIQ might be the perfect fulfillment partner for you with end-to-end fulfillment solutions that has a nationwide network of state-of-the-art fulfillment centers/warehouses & dark stores with optimised layout design to enable hassle-free warehouse operations leading to efficient product handling, inbound & outbound logistics movement of products to & from warehouses.

Warehouse Layout Design FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)