Moving to a new warehouse can be exciting, overwhelming and daunting, all in equal measure. At Davies & Robson we have helped a number of businesses design, implement and successfully transfer to new facilities.
How do you plan a Warehouse Move?
Designing a new warehouse and planning the move isn’t an everyday task and should be planned and resourced well in advance. Some sequenced activities can help clearly define the end state and the transition plan.
Before you define the future layout consider the future!
Obvious, but you would be surprised how many businesses aim to simply lift the current operations, storage solution and operating plans from one building to the next.
Consider sales growth and an increase in SKUs. Will any new product ranges be introduced? Do the new ranges have the same storage characteristics and sales profile as existing ranges? What about the cube and packaging, does the current or planned storage media support the new ranges?
As sales increase will you be able to increase the inventory turnover? Simply, can you replenish the warehouse faster and use less space as a result? Greater throughput provides opportunities for more frequent deliveries, plan for them and reap the rewards.
Look Down! What shape is the new warehouse?
Whilst you can develop broad brush plans based upon an assumed warehouse shape, the actual shape will always require a compromise or two. The most common issue is the placement of the uprights, in older production style warehouses the uprights are relatively close together and little or no thought has been given to a storage layout.
Always allow a little more space than you think so you can adapt to the actual shape of the warehouse. An old white goods warehouse in Paddock Wood was originally shaped like a banana to take in to account the curve of the adjacent railway!
Look Up! Remember to consider the height.
A warehouse is more than just square feet or square metres. There is a third dimension, height. Plan for and use the cube. If the new building is higher then be sure to examine ways of using the height.
One popular theme recently is to use the height available above the loading docks. Traditionally in the UK we tended to waste this area but clever use of mezzanines can create additional and useful storage or office space. A recent client, HellermannTyton, used the available space for a mixture of offices, meeting rooms and demonstration facilities. The result? An excellent use of the overall cube available.
Talk to the local authorities.
Local building inspectors and in many cases fire inspectors will want to be involved in the planning. Involve them early and work with them.
Car parking, sprinklers, escape routes and much more can be heavily influenced by the authorities. The sooner you involve them the better.
Don’t forget the insurers.
Your insurers don’t only decide upon your premium. Dependent upon the layout, products, packaging and many other characteristics insurers may push for roof or in rack sprinklers, sprinklers on every floor or every second floor of mezzanines or pick towers and some very specific flow rates across the system. Don’t leave these discussions until the latter stages.
When planning for the transfer consider any systems changes and purchasing updates.
Redirecting inbound purchase orders may feel like a short-term, simple action but consider the timing and redirection sooner rather than later to ensure the sequence of flows between old and new buildings can be optimised. A colleague of mine once needed to implement a ‘temporary’ measure regarding inbound goods as the PO systems and supplier contracts team needed 6 months to fully implement the new delivery addresses!
If it’s obsolete don’t move it.
The move to a new warehouse is time consuming and costly enough without spending time and money shipping obsolete stocks from one site to another. This might be the opportunity you need to convince the Sales Team and Finance Director that the obsolete stocks will cost less to dispose of than they will to needlessly transfer to the new facility.
Re-use racking or buy new?
It is tough to walk away from existing racking, shelving and other storage media but if your plan requires a robust business continuity plan then you should consider buying new media that meets the future design requirements.
Look at the big picture, business continuity is king. By all means look to sell the old racking but only once the business activities are operating smoothly at the new site. You never know your preferred racking supplier may offer you a ‘part exchange’.
And remember, always specify your requirements clearly and get three or more quotes as steel prices, stock levels and production capacity all have an impact on day to day prices.
Allocate Adequate Management
As most of the team will already have full time jobs be sure to allocate adequate management time to the project.
The senior team will need to be involved throughout to ensure the overall guidance and direction is in line with the business strategy and day-to-day needs so make sure they have some time available.
Not sure? Get some advice
Even taking in to account point 9, consider getting some professional advice with the planning and some experienced Interim Management capability to ensure the transfer is smooth and successful.
Relocate Your Fulfilment Operation With Davies & Robson
At Davies & Robson we have supported many businesses during the planning stage and our selected, trusted Interim Managers have the experience you and your team may lack.
Clearly, these aren’t all of the steps or actions required in a warehouse transfer but they do represent some of the most important ones and broadly outline the sequence required. Look forward to your new warehouse by planning, preparing, resourcing and managing the project professionally.
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