Optimizing Distribution Storage to Increase Storage Density and Distribution Efficiency

Increased demand on warehousing facilities and distributors makes it challenging to find space to keep up. More space is needed for SKU proliferation and increased inventory storage needs. In addition, more distribution staff is required for order picking, order fulfillment, and other distribution services. More staff means more room for them to work. So, how can distributors gain the additional space and storage they need while maintaining ROI? Acquiring (buying or renting) additional warehouse space is not usually feasible. So, the ideal solution is to optimize the existing distribution storage space to increase storage density and distribution efficiency.

Optimizing Existing Footprint
Improving Efficiency

Optimizing Distribution Warehousing Space within the Same Footprint with Inventive Distribution Storage Solutions

Problem:

Warehouses and distribution centers are generally purpose-built and originally located based on “the best available option” at the time given geography, climate, and/or existing assets considerations. What was best for businesses ten years ago isn’t necessarily what is best today. Some of the storage solutions implemented for distribution facilities years ago have not been adequately updated to keep up with the growing demand for increase inventory / SKU proliferation and distribution efficiency.

If a distributor is storing items on pallets or shelving on the floor, there is likely significant wasted distribution storage space above their heads. In addition, distribution facilities tend to store bulk items, as it is necessary to order in bulk to meet minimum order requirements and achieve economies of scale. Bulk materials storage takes up valuable real estate, even when the material requirements are minimal. There is an opportunity to optimize bulk material storage for when it is not needed. So, how can distributors adapt to the changing requirements for warehousing and distribution?

Solution:

By implementing innovative distribution storage solutions, distributors can regain more space within the same footprint. Installing pallet racking in the existing footprint can double, triple, or quadruple the distribution storage space, depending on ceiling height. That’s just the beginning.

By utilizing a carton flow racking solution, like SpanTrack, for less than full pallet locations, facilities often increase space efficiency by 80%, primarily due to the optimization of the pick window. When an employee is order picking from a floor position pallet, all locations on the pallet must be manually accessible by the employee. All sides remain accessible even if they’ve already been picked because the physical pallet remains until empty. SpanTrack requires only one static location for each item, and the rest flow to that location automatically. This greatly limits the need for costly open space around pallets and potentially dangerous reaches for far away products.

SpeedCell takes the storage of slow-movers another step forward by placing the items in smaller, movable cells that can increase storage density in a given bay up to 500%. It accomplishes this by not only maximizing density at the pick face like SpanTrack but creates up to 2 additional pick faces in the same bay.

Another great way to free up space at a distribution facility is by incorporating right-sizing storage products and equipment. By analyzing volumetric throughput and only storing what is necessary for the shift, week, or month, space requirements can be reduced, the pick path can be shortened, and the distributor can achieve productivity improvements.

Utilizing SpanTrack in existing pallet racking increases storage efficiency dramatically over pallet positions. It is achievable to fit 32 SKUs in the same space that 4 SKUs previously occupied – a distribution storage increase of 700%. With SpeedCell, that same bay could hold up to 200 SKUs!

These distribution storage solutions may require additional bulk storage beyond what fits in a lane or cell, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Bulk storage can be relegated to overhead storage or other less valuable areas of a facility. The need to access these pallets will be far less with storage optimization in place.

View SpanTrack
View SpeedCell

Improving Efficiency by Optimizing Distribution Storage Mediums and Carton Flow

Problem:

SKU proliferation is common in so many industries today. Customers are demanding more options. Again, the issue is where to store the increase in SKUs in a way that is accessible for order picking and fulfillment to ensure productivity?

Solution:

With a dedicated, engineered distribution storage system, there is a place for everything, and everything has a place. Carton flow solutions like the SpanTrack lane features dedicated lanes for specific boxes, and SpanTrack bed offers various labeling and guiding systems. The SpeedCell dynamic distribution storage system offers defined, labeled, locations for slower-moving products.

A side effect of the storage density increase is that SpanTrack and SpeedCell shorten the pick path, drastically reducing the amount of time it takes for order picking due to the reduced walking between picks. SpanTrack also creates fixed locations, which helps eliminate searching for both pickers and replenishers. When cartons flow to the front, users don’t have to bend, reach, or struggle to pick items or full containers, resulting in an ergonomically efficient pick. This flow makes their interactions predictable, teachable, and repeatable. The consistency also helps make it easy to train and compare different employees or shifts, further optimizing performance.

View SpanTrack
View SpeedCell

Case Studies

Wholesale Distributor

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Maletis Beverage

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Aubuchon Hardware

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Atlas Distributing

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Get the Guide to Optimizing Warehouse Space Utilization

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Get the Guide to Optimizing Warehouse Space Utilization

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UNEX Manufacturing, Inc.
691 New Hampshire Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701

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