Maximising Pallet Capacity - Is It The Right Solution?
As a specialist warehouse storage solutions provider, SEC Storage are often approached with the brief to "maximise pallet capacity". This is often driven by the clients' requirements to increase overall warehouse storage space. But more often than not, increasing pallet capacity isn't the optimum solution for their operation.
Maximising pallet capacity - and why!
When clients require to increase capacity this can be for a number of reasons:
- They are struggling for space due to business growth and exceptional sales but cannot warrant moving or extending the warehouse.
- They are a Third Party Logistics (3PL) company and require to accommodate additional contracts.
- They are a specialist storage company and require to maximise the cube to bring down thecost of per item stored.
- New product ranges means they have insufficient pallet racking or shelving space.
Whatever the reason, the requirement to increase capacity may undoubtedly exist. However, it is extremely important that you do not increase capacity at the expense of operation efficiency.
There are a number of ways to increase capacity which may include:
Not all the above may be suitable for your operation.
Do you only have palletised goods? Then a mezzanine floor will provide little benefit if you cannot locate other business activities to it.
Do you have full pallet and part pallet or smaller boxed picks? Then VNA may not be suitable as it often does not allow pallet trucks and the VNA truck to operate in the aisle at the same time.
To illustrate why it is so important to carry out a produce and warehouse appraisal to determine the optimum storage solution, we thought it best with a client case study.
The Client Brief
The client was using a bulk stacking solution for pallet storage in their multiple warehouses. However, this approach hindered the effective use of the available space. Following an appraisal we found that in one unit with a 6,000 pallet capacity, only 4,500 pallets were stored on average based on specific areas being designated to one product SKU. Consequently, the use of these areas were never capitalised on due to the sheer number of SKU's.
The client was also operating out of three storage facilities:
- Unit 9 was used for raw materials.
- Unit 8, joined to Unit 9, stored finished goods.
- Unit 6 provided additional space plus storage for packaging.
The solution therefore had to take into consideration the following key project drivers:
- Increase pallet capacity to circa 16,000 pallets, in line with future growth plans.
- Reduce the number of warehouses being used in order to decrease overall running costs and improve efficiency in the remaining units; the aim to close Unit 6.
- Consider the implementation of standalone stock control systems.
Finding the Right Storage Solution
Initially, wide aisle racking was considered as it offered easy access to pallets and fully adjustable beams would enable maximum space utilisation due to the varying height of the building; however this didn't meet the clients desired pallet capacity.
The second solution considered was a dense drive in racking system coupled with dynamic pushback racking. Whilst this increased pallet capacity to over 12,000, it would not enable the picking of part or mixed pallets which is a significant element of the clients operation. A prime example of potentially choosing pallet capacity over operational requirements.
Similarly a VNA racking system would provide a pallet capacity of 16,000 pallets across Units 8 & 9, but this again would not allow for the picking of part pallets due to the specialist mechanical handling equipment required and width of the aisles. It would mean that powered pallet trucks could not operate in the aisle at the same time.
The Pallet Storage Solution
The solution was a double deep storage system which would achieve a pallet capacity of 17,000 across the two units. It would also enable the mixed use of aisles between a traditional double deep reach truck and a powered pallet truck. Interestingly, this gives greater pallet capacity over VNA which traditionally achieves a higher pallet capacity.
The client has been able to significantly increase pallet capacity whilst achieving their operational needs of picking full and part pallets with much more efficient product selectivity.
Furthermore, the expenditure required for both racking and mechanical handling equipment was significantly more cost effective than the other solutions.
The final solution increased capacity from 6,000 to 11,000 pallets in Unit 9, utilising the warehouse space more efficiently through better stock rotation of the products as opposed to bulk stacking. Unit 8 will provide a capacity of 6,000 again providing more efficient product selectivity.
Unit 8 has better space utilisation along with more efficient product selectivity and meets existing pallet capacity of Unit 9 despite being smaller, demonstrating effectiveness of the double deep installation.
Stock Control System and Space Utilisation
Having taken into consideration the need for a standalone stock control system, we provided racking location labels that would be used by the warehouse operatives upon the storing, replenishment and picking of finished goods.
The stock control system would essentially allow any product range to be stored anywhere within the racking system. The previous bulk stacking system only allowed for 75% space utilisation due to varying product range stock levels versus space designated to that product range.
By implementing the stock control system the client would experience 97% space utilisation as not one area is designated to one product range.
Pallet Capacity vs. Operation – What's Your Solution?
Our case study demonstrates that you need to fully asses your entire operation, product range and business requirements in order to determine what the optimum solution may be.
For our client, the dense storage system achieved the highest pallet capacity but simply would not work for their operation (namely full and part pallet picks)!
By utilising a double deep pallet racking operation they could not only exceed the required pallet capacity target but also implement a more efficient operation and product selection process.
Interested to find out how we will be able to help your warehouse operation? Please contact us.