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Warehousing

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Submitted By choiyi
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Warehousing plays a vital part in a logistics system. In the past, we always thought that warehouse is used for storage of inventories. In today’s quick response, the growth of warehouse not only serves for storage, but also for movement, information transfer and valued added services. A good warehouse space and layout planning is a primary element for efficient warehouse. Tompkins and Harmelink (2004, p.240) state the purposes of warehouse layout are space usage efficiency; allowing for efficient material handling; cost efficiency; maximum flexibility and good housekeeping. Successful warehouse layout could maximize space utilization, minimize and control movement and location, and provide safety and security environment.

The first step in warehouse layout planning is to consider the space requirement. Tompkins et al. (1996, p.430) state space conservation, space limitations, accessibility and orderliness are some factors on designing layout. In layout planning, as space will be limited by floor loads, truss, the height of ceiling, etc, it should be maximized utilization of concentration and cube and also minimized honeycombing. To optimize space utilization, it is not only developed by horizontally but also by vertically. Space concentration and cube utilization can benefit for the flexibility and ability for bulky receipts such as higher and thicker materials. Tompkins and Smiths (1998, p.243) describe honeycombing is storage space losing due to improper use of storage capacity. Honeycombing will limit multiple material loading and storage location sizes. Thus, honeycombing should be eliminated for space planning. For example, Zara utilized cube storage to increase its storage space. Li & Fung Group also adapted cubic location in warehouse to optimize space utilization.

Beside, minimizing movement should be also taken into layout consideration. Warman (1971, p.69) emphasize “maneuvering space is more important than storage space”. The materials should be accessible in warehouse layout. Insufficient maneuvering space will reduce accessibility to material. Thus, it should be properly designed the aisles. The width of aisles should be adequate enough to allow movement of material handling equipment and people. Furthermore, the shape and the size of aisle will be affected by the use of different kind of material handling device. Wide aisles are necessary for the use of tractor. On the contrary, narrow aisles are used for forklift trucks. As forklift trucks can operate in narrow aisle compared with tractor. Typically, around 3m aisles can accommodate lift truck accessibly and the main aisles should be at least 3.5m width. Also, the orderliness principle should be emphasized so that empty space within storage area should be avoided and also materials should be placed correctly. Otherwise, it will affect the original designed space and movement of equipment and labour as well. For instance, the aisle in Black Diamond would wide enough for equipment movement. Li & Fung Group designing its warehouse layout would concern the accessibility for equipment, hence all equipment can operate between aisle and storage location.

Storage location method should be considered in space and layout planning. Dedicated location and random location are most often used for storage management. Farahani and Hekmatfar (2009, p.423) define dedicated storage location is used when designated product is assigned to specific location or a set of locations and never for any other product. Since every product line placed into assigned location, it is easy to manage and reduce the travel times among order-picking locations. However, it is required to large storage space. It has to leave space for the product even it is out of stock. Space could be wasted or inadequate. Thus, it will result in poor space utilization. It is suitable for small warehouse. For example, most point of use storage is used for dedicated location. Farahani and Hekmatfar (2009, p.444) mention randomized storage is used when there is any empty space, any product could be utilized and it can be changed the location. As storage location can be shared for every product, it can maximize space utilization. For example, LEGO used dedicated storage location to reduce the travel times and Li & Fung Group is used this desigin as well

Apart from storage location, the number and location of docks is important for designing of warehouse. Tompkins and Smiths (1998, p.425) describe it should consider the number of docks when determining space requirement for dock and maneuvering area. It depends on the time intervals between carrier arriving at the dock and the requiring time service for carriers upon arrival. The fewer number of docks will reduce the space requirement, but increase the carrier pick up and delivery time. In general, the dock area layouts are flush docks and finger docks. With flush dock, it utilizes less storage space and thus it is common used in layout planning.
However, when maneuvering area is limited, finger dock should be considered.

To concern the warehouse space and layout design, it should define business requirements. The best warehouse layout planning is not only for current needs, but also for future perspective.

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