The Principles of Warehouse Design

Mike Oliver, Total Logistics Director, was invited by Dr Peter Baker of Cranfield University, to contribute to a book he was compiling for the CILT. The book is called The Principles of Warehouse Design and  Mike’s chapter covers internal and external layouts.

In it he identifies key areas to consider when hoping to optimise warehouse operations.  The following extracts cover some of the highlights from Mike’s contribution.

“Ensuring a good operational layout in a distribution facility, both internally and externally, will have a significant positive impact on labour productivity and facility throughput capacity.  Taking into account the fixed costs associated with investment in land and buildings, plus annual charges associated with a facility, it is worthwhile investing time to optimise the layout of the site and buildings.  An increased annual throughput reduces the fixed cost per case or item handled.

In designing a good operational warehouse layout, there are a number of general principles that should be applied:

•    Allow movements to take place in a logically sequenced flow
•    Avoid cross-traffic and bottlenecks
•    Avoid unnecessary movement or travel
•    Allow sufficient space buffer between process steps

A further operating principle that impacts on the design process is to de-couple the resources allocated to critical tasks or activities. As a simple example, a delay in a put-away process could impact on both the goods receipt function and the replenishment of picking locations.

Mike suggests that the external layout of a facility should be developed with consideration of:

•    Overall site flows of vehicles arriving at and leaving the site
•    Requirements for parking / queuing of delivery vehicles
•    Parking of trailers on site
•    Security /gatehouse arrangements
•    Pedestrian walkways and car parking facilities

The Chapter ends with tips for the best results in warehouse planning:

•    Create a detailed materials flow chart
•    Consider the specific space requirements of each activity in terms of the supply chain operation
•    Compare a range of warehouse layout configurations
•    Plan for further expansion
•    Check the warehouse layout against the general principles identified above”

This chapter is available in full, if you would like to request a copy,  e.mail carole.broad@total-logistics.eu.com or call her on 0118 977 3027.

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