There are five important stages to be considered when designing a warehouse. The stages include the overall warehouse structure, sizing and dimensioning of departments, and departmental layout. The other two are the choice of equipment needed in the warehouse and identifying the operational strategies.
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The overall warehouse structure is also referred to as the conceptual design. It is responsible for the smooth interdepartmental flow. It outlines the specific functions of various departments and establishes the pattern of flow in the warehouse.
This could as well be seen as the core of the warehousing process. The process includes determining the required number of stores, the technology to be applied in the prospective departments, and the manner in which the orders would be arranged. This phase of the design deals with storage requirements, which should be at the minimum cost. The aim is to reduce the future operational costs.
The second aspect of warehouse design entails distribution of space to all departments. Sizing and dimensioning is very important because they influence other factors such as construction costs, inventory holding, replenishment, and material handling.
Evaluation of the storage capacity and conversion of the same to the floor space is necessary because determination of construction and operational costs fall into this stage of warehouse design. All sections in of the warehouse are significant. Therefore, they compete for space because the room is limited. Allocation should therefore be based on necessity.
The departmental layout elaborates the way in which the structure of the warehouse should be framed. Various fallback departments are considered here. These units consist of pallet block loading in the store area, the passageway area, and the design of the automatic storeroom.
Selecting the stores to be set up and classification of suitable warehouse computerization levels are covered in the apparatus selection stage of warehouse planning. Other areas dealt with include the choice of transportation means, picking, sorting procedures, and the systems to be applied in the various departments. All these require a high quality service balancing, cost effectiveness, and labor intensity.
These decisions are strategic to the warehouse because they affect the overall investment and dictate the performance of the warehouse during operations. They must therefore be considered when designing the various departments of the warehouse. Automation level is based on the experience of the designers and managers of the warehouse. Their expertise in this area would be relied upon.
Determination of operational strategies falls under the operations stage. This is the fifth and final phase of warehouse design. Decisions made at this stage have a global effect. They are to be taken into consideration during the designing process. The decisions consist of selecting either randomized or dyed-in-the-wool storage space, choosing whether to involve picking areas, and determining whether to sort-while-picking or sort-after-picking.
The decisions made in the process of warehouse design are interrelated and it may be difficult to isolate or precisely separate them. Adopting all decision made during the formulation stage is the best option.
The above proposals are not special. Therefore, having other smaller factors for consideration may be crucial. For example, it is paramount to consider operational performance measures during designing because its efficiency influences the design decisions. Some of them can be impossible to change or even very costly to alter after the warehouse has been constructed.