From automation to drones, new technology is disrupting the warehouse and cold storage industry. The demand for same-day delivery, and other concerns related to ecommerce, is forcing warehouse operators to transform their distribution and delivery processes. As more operations become digitally outfitted with WMS and other necessary tools, how inventory is stored, tracked, picked, and delivered will change, which requires owners to make the necessary changes at their existing facilities.
But what if you are building a facility from scratch? What things must you consider when working in the initial planning and site selection stages? Here are a few:
Location, Location, Location
Getting closer to customers to meet increasing demands is playing a role in location. The site you pick matters. In the past, companies tended to construct large warehouse operations in rural areas far from city centers. The reason was simple: The land out there is cheap and plentiful. With next-day and same-day shipping, it is becoming more of a priority to locate distribution centers in the heart of cities. Look at Amazon’s current push to have cities compete to have the company relocate to their respective urban center.
Focus on Ecommerce
Traditional warehouse layouts accommodated bulk distribution for brick-and-mortar operations. Cases of goods were picked, packed, shipped, and delivered using multiple pallets and many trucks. That dynamic has changed with ecommerce. Now, with small volume ordering and delivery the focus, items have to be picked individually. That means the physical space of your warehouse needs to be designed to reflect, not just the different demands, but also to allow for the easy processing of returned items.
Accommodate the Robots
With automation emerging in the warehouse space, your new warehouse needs to be designed to allow for the infrastructure it requires: autonomous vehicle pathways, and vertical space to accommodate transportable shelving, conveyors, and other tools. Temperature control is also a factor. Optimize your space so that it puts the focus on your new automated technologies, even if you plan to incorporate them as you grow, because you don’t want to discover your new facility lacks the dimensions needed to eventually get your robotics up and running.
Invest in 3D modeling
The best way to plan for a new facility is 3D modeling that helps you identify potential bottlenecks involving the convergence of humans and robotics. Get your designer to figure out how to maximize vertical space and to keep dead space at a minimum. The modeling can also produce fly-through videos that can help in potential collision detection, and be used by other partners like vendors who can sync up plans with their demands in an effort to make the entire project as feasible as possible.
Are you designing a new facility? How have you readied it for WMS? Which components do you have and which ones do you need? Did you know your WMS can help you get and stay organized? Let us know in the comments below!