Five Ways to Increase Warehouse Capacity
July 20, 2021
Five Ways to Increase Warehouse Capacity
As SKU counts grow and order volumes rise to meet e-commerce demands, many distribution and fulfillment (D&F) warehouses are experiencing space constraints and order processing challenges. While upgrading to a greenfield facility would be the best-case scenario, many operations are not always ready to invest the capital necessary to make that option a reality. Fortunately, there are many warehouse design options, material handling equipment (MHE) upgrades and technological improvements available to transform existing distribution centers (DCs). Whether you’re looking to improve order picking accuracy, maximize space utilization, or increase warehouse capacity, consider the following options before making the investment in a greenfield operation.
- Grow up, not out. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), such as shuttle systems, provide flexible, modular systems that accommodate a variety of warehouse layouts and maximize the vertical space. With heights exceeding 60 ft. and by using intra-aisle vertical lifts, these high-density automation options deliver significant productivity increases and much-needed inventory storage capabilities. Combine with intuitive goods-to-person (GTP) stations to improve warehouse order picking accuracy, efficiency and productivity.
- Let robots do the heavy lifting. Manual labor travel throughout a warehouse to retrieve and transport goods is among the most inefficient of all DC processes. And although forklifts can move heavy loads, they’re also one of the leading causes of warehouse injuries. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are among the fastest-growing automation strategies to offset these inefficiencies. AMRs provide scalable automation on-demand with minimal information technology (IT) or warehouse design change requirements, can typically be deployed in a matter of hours for nearly any workflow, and deliver a fast return on investment (ROI). Meanwhile, you can reallocate labor resources to more high-value tasks.
- Simulate your next level of performance. We often think of simulation and emulation capabilities for warehouse layout planning in greenfield operations, but these can be as effective for increasing the capacity of existing warehouses. Whether for evaluating changes to operational conditions or adding new mechanical systems, simulation allows you to test multiple scenarios to approximate the behavior and performance of systems under various conditions. By doing so, you can verify the effectiveness of different alternatives prior to implementation and select the solution that will best fit your operation.
- Limit unplanned downtime. For many operations, excessive unplanned downtime may be the very reason they’re evaluating whether to “upgrade existing” or “build new.” Unfortunately, most don’t realize that they’re underestimating downtime by 200–300 percent! By leveraging connected technologies, machine sensors and intuitive software, you can automate the collection and analysis of the operational data needed to drive warehouse utilization and limit unplanned downtime. Our Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solution is designed to help you make the transition to predictive, condition-based maintenance, so you detect equipment problems before they cause downtime.
- Rebuild — not rip and replace — your sortation system. Sortation and conveyor systems are the main arteries of your DC’s circulatory system. They are the often overlooked — but essential — components of a modern e-commerce warehouse’s design. But if you’re like many operations whose system has been running at full capacity since the start of the pandemic, your sortation system is showing signs of wear and tear. Common symptoms include: declining throughput levels, spikes in downtime, increased product damage and excessive noise levels. While you may be tempted to replace it, the Lifecycle Support Services team from Honeywell Intelligrated has the expertise and experience to rebuild it to better than new — often at a fraction of the cost.
These are just a few strategies we recommend for helping you to maximize the capacity of your existing warehouse. So before investing in a greenfield facility, be sure to consult with the experts at Honeywell Intelligrated for leading strategies on increasing your current warehouse utilization.
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