Planning a warehouse

When planning a warehouse as much information as possible must be collected about the needs of the customer, the space available, and the resources at its disposal. The information collected is limited only by the extent of planning you wish to carry out at any time.

It is not enough to simply know what the customer needs or can do: a knowledge of the options available on the market is vital. Therefore, a thorough knowledge of storage systems is required, as is an up-to-date knowledge of the equipment on the market.

Let us take a look at how the data gathered are classified. Each factor will play a role in defining the warehouse and all of them, taken together, will impact its planning.


Product: How is it going to be stored?

What data are needed...
What unit load or units does the company use?
What are the different dimensions and weights of the unit loads?
How much of the product needs to be stored?
How many SKUs or types of products will be stored?
What is the resistance of the product to compression and deformation?
Is the product climate-sensitive?
Are the goods fire-sensitive? What safety conditions are necessary?
What are the rotation requirements?
Is traceability of the goods necessary?
Is there an article master?
Is growth forecast for the future?
This information determines…
The storage system to be used and the dimensions required for the spaces or shelves.
The size of the facility, the location system, and the layout.
The handling and resistance of the storage equipment used.
How operations will be performed.
The working areas to be established.
The product layout in the facility.
The organization of internal flows.
Whether or not products can be stacked on top of each other.
The stability of the load during handling.
Whether or not there is a possibility of collapse (and, therefore, whether or not more space is required).
Whether or not it will be a temperature-controlled facility (warehouse with a negative temperature, refrigerated, or at room temperature).
The fire alarm system to be used.


Space: What infrastructure is available?

Required information...

To answer these questions, it is not enough to have a plan provided by the customer. The building must be visited to confirm all information and confirm measurements.

What is the shape and size of the premises?
Are there special characteristics or limitations in terms of access, floors, windows, pillars, manholes, installations, lines, and power mains?
Are there spaces adjoining the premises that have an impact on it?
What is the earth resistance?
What construction regulations are in force in the area?
Are seismic calculations required?
This information determines…  
The potential capacity of the facility and the layout of the goods inside it.
The accessibility available in the warehouse.
The layout of the space and the location of emergency exits.
The need to install racking units with the appropriate strength.


Equipment: What resources are available?

Required information...
Are there already racks in place? If so, how many and what are their measurements and load capacity?
Is lift and transport equipment available? If so, what are its measurements, elevation height and load capacity?
Are there already auxiliary elements, such as boxes, pallets, etc.? What are their measurements and characteristics?
Is there a predisposition toward buying new storage equipment?
This information determines…
The need to integrate new equipment.
Limits to capacity.
How to best adapt the system to the needs of the customer.

Whether or not it would be possible to increase capacity.


Flows and rotation: How do the goods circulate?

Required information...
How will products enter the facilities, how often, and in what quantities?
How will the goods be handled?
How many orders will there be, and how many lines will each order contain?
At what point will the order be prepared?
How will the product be issued? Classification and quantity.
What are the requirements of the goods in terms of rotation, quarantine, etc.?
The products are classified as:
A: High rotation 
B: Medium rotation 
C: Low rotation 
What are the current needs and those of future growth?
This information determines…
The required size and layout of the warehouse.
Whether or not additional spaces must be set aside, and what these will be like.
How goods are arranged on racks.
How orders are prepared.
Whether or not auxiliary resources are required, and what form these should take.
The management system to be used.
What handling equipment will be used, and of what type.
The speed of operation and preparation of the facility.


Personnel: What professionals are available?

Required information...
Number of personnel available to work in the warehouse.
What qualifications will the personnel assigned to the facilities have?
Will shifts be used? If so, how will these be organized?
Will there be a tendency to reduce or increase the number of people and their qualifications?
This information determines…
The operating capacity of the facility.
Whether or not it is necessary or possible to improve productivity.
Whether or not storage systems and equipment other than those already in place are required.
The measures that will be necessary in relation to handling equipment.


Management and business policy: How are things done?

Required information...
How is the warehouse controlled?
Is there already a warehouse management system? (WMS software)
What resources are available?
Is it necessary to speed up orders?
Is it helpful to reduce stock?
How important is reputation to the company, and on what is this reputation based?
Is there the potential for investment?
What location system is used?
This data determines...
Whether or not it will be necessary to improve the management system.
The most appropriate storage and order preparation system.
The location system that will need to be adopted.
The space that will be required.
The quantity of stock that can be managed.
Whether or not a reduction or increase in personnel will be required.
The degree of effectiveness of the facility.
How both the systems and available resources will be applied.
And, ultimately, the success or failure of the solution implemented.


The type of product, the space where it will be stored and the handling equipment used to move it will be, among others, a few of the factors that influence the design of the whole warehouse.


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