Top tips for unveiling new space in your warehouse
With a shortage of warehouse space in the UK, many builders merchants are struggling to find new, suitable sites to facility expansion.
Whereas the large multiples have the option of buying up smaller players to realise growth, or commissioning new builds, the situation has the potential to stem growth for smaller to medium-sized merchants.
But according to Mike Gorman, Sales Director of design, fit out and racking specialist Filstorage, the secret to expansion could lie in realising more space in your existing premises.
Whereas this might sound like obvious, it is rarely consider, Mike said. Yet with a little thought and some investment, significant extra space can often be found which can be the difference between growth and plateauing.
“One of the things we often hear from merchants is that changing their existing warehouse design will be disruptive for little or no gain,” Mike said.
“But done well, this is not the case. When merchants see modern products that facilitate efficient storage, and how extra square footage can be added to a building, they usually change their minds.
“Essentially, looking at improving inventory storage and management should form part of normal planning because without the ability to move sites, streamlining these processes is the most effective way of achieving growth.”
Mike added this is particularly an issue for smaller merchants that are new to the market.
Often, he said, their focus is on shifting product and all thoughts of layout and space are a long way down the list of priorities.
“This is entirely understandable,” Mike said.
“But it can store up problems for the future.
“Big merchants have a much better handle on this. They’ve learned from experience that effective, interconnected layouts for the trade counter, shop, warehouse, and yard make for the best use of space.
“They also build future flexibility into designs, knowing that as branches mature, they will need to change things around.”
Top tips for realising more space
So, how can merchants find more space in their already busy operations? Here are Mike’s top tips for discovering extra square feet that could make all the difference.
- Consider a full redesign
When was the last time you had your branch layout looked at by an expert? For many merchants, the answer is never. But this is one of the most effective ways of finding significant extra space. An experienced designer can see past the current state of the depot to its full potential and will have the skills and knowledge to help you realise that.
- Fit a mezzanine floor
Few things have the potential to increase the overall square footage of your premises than a mezzanine floor. Sales of these have exploded in recent years as the warehousing crisis has deepened because they are very cost and operationally effective.
- Rack-supported mezzanine
Like conventional mezzanine flooring, rack-support flooring is a great way to realise more storage space. Often sat on top of sturdy pallet racking, this prevents bulky, heavy items from cluttering up the floor.
Pigeonhole racking is also a popular option under a rack-supported mezzanine, to store long lengths of timber or drainage pipes.
- Look to the heavens
We’re not talking about divine inspiration here, more that expansion is now often a vertical game.
New racking systems that reach higher and open up the top third of a warehouse are an effective way to utilities what was traditionally dead space. Flexibility is important too. Racking that is quick to assemble and take down can be easily altered to accommodate new product ranges.
Also, ensure aisles are wide enough to accommodate a forklift truck as this will make accessing the higher aspects of your racking easier.
- Plan the external layout
Efficient use of space isn’t just about your warehouse. It is about ensuring customers can seamlessly access and move through your site.
Consider this as if you were a customer yourself and make the experience as easy as possible. Otherwise, you might find that however efficiently you store product inside, customers simply don’t come back!
Mike added that by following these principles, merchants could unlock a surprising amount of space.
“It’s not uncommon to add up to 80% more square footage to a warehouse with a redesign and mezzanine floor,” he said.
“Rather than seeing that as a disruption and a cost, merchants should see it as an investment which will power their future growth.”