Welcome to the our Summer 2013 ‘The Warehouse’ feature. In the current climate, the pressure is mounting for Britain’s wholesalers to make the most effective use of their storage space and have the flexibility to cope with changes in products stocked.

chazThe business of striking the right mix of forklifts and racking for cash ‘n’ carry depots can be made easier with a combination of access to simulation software and firsthand knowledge of your pedestrian areas and customer traffic, and many suppliers of forklifts and racking will offer free help with this.

In delivered wholesalers with multi-item picks for customers’ deliveries fast picking is paramount. Beyond a certain scale individuals working in aisles or using order picking trucks can be time consuming and tiresome. If you can invest in appropriate picking processes, you will soon see your productivity rates increase significantly and congestion ease in busy picking areas.

Various automated material handling suppliers have developed ‘goods to person’ systems, which are not only fast but also highly space efficient and ergonomically easier on the pickers. They are usually backed up by paperless picking methods like pick-to-light, voice and hand-held RDTs. Such paperless picking is more accurate than paper pick lists and allows real time stock updates. In terms of payback, they can often deliver within a year and sometimes justify themselves on huge reductions in order picking errors and big increases in order picking rates.

Wholesalers of all kinds continue to receive full pallet loads from suppliers so truck-based handling solutions remain the most viable option for goods in. But the use of space in the rest of the operation is crucial. Various pallet-racking formats have been developed to provide a choice of pallet storage density, depending on your needs. Ask your supplier for details.

But it doesn’t all come down to achieving best use of space. The choice of forklift can also be critical, because some trucks are more productive than others in terms of pallets moved or even the number of trucks used. Depending on your operation, flexible trucks that can work in the yard and the warehouse can dispense with having different truck types and move more pallets per shift.

One significant challenge facing warehouses is the need to comply with the Energy Act, 2011, by 2018. Failure to do so, according to Government figures, could see up to 18% of buildings outlawed if their energy rating performance is F or G. The problem could be even worse – DTZ Global’s recent audit of over 1,000 energy performance certificates (EPCs) indicated that around 40% of commercial property would be a borderline E rating or below! Start looking urgently at saving and creating energy in a carbon-free way, or cutting your carbon footprint sharply.

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