Distribution Network Optimisation
Warehouse Technologies is able to assist you on any level of network analysis. From the full-scale study of national distribution, across multi-time periods, to a center of gravity study for a single facility in a single time period. Our industry knowledge, years of experience, and advanced software calculates optimal distribution networks:
- The optimal number of distribution hubs required for your network.
- The optimal locations are for your distribution centers.
- The optimal migration plan to move from the current network to the optimal network.
Warehouse technologies are able to manage the complete spectrum of the implementation of a warehouse. The scope will be to prepare, track and control project timelines and budgets, and co-ordinate all facets of the project:
- Dock doors
- Conveyor systems
- Cold and Freezer rooms
- HVAC systems
- Battery bays
- Fire protection
- Temperature-controlled environments
A “Time and Motion Study” is a classical industrial engineering technique that enables one to analytically observe a process involving people, machines, and systems to identify and quantify improvements.
From the time studies, standards can be set whereby the expected output of an operation is indicated based on observed and improved methods. Warehouse Technologies can assist your organisation to implement the continuous improvement cycle; measure performance, identify opportunities, implement changes and optimise performance.
Facility location and feasibility studies
Once the optimal location is found through a network study, a suitable facility is required, whether a new build or an existing facility is modified. One needs to evaluate:
- Property availability in the area
- If the properties suit the client’s requirements
- The overall cost to retrofit the facility, including physical changes to the building, fitting out of racking, etc.
- The operational constraints of each facility.
Once all alternatives are evaluated and compared, the client is able to choose the facility that best suits their operational requirements and budget.
Warehouse Simulation is the virtual imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. The purpose and value of a simulation are to test the warehouse design of a greenfield site or to optimise a brownfield site to ensure that the flow and design aspects are optimised e.g.:
- Number and location of receiving and despatching doors
- Size and location of marshaling area inside the warehouse
- Optimal racking type and orientation for envisaged operation
- Yard simulation for determining sufficient queuing areas, for example outside gates, at receiving points, or at despatch.
Turnkey warehouse implementation
- Functional Design
- Budget preparation
- Detailed design
- Project management of timelines and costs
- Project management of the warehouse build and complete installation
- Define Warehouse processes
How do I increase the storage capacity of my warehouse?
The most common ways of increasing storage capacity in a warehouse are:
- Reducing aisle widths between racking. This can be done by changing the material handling equipment, from a forklift to reach truck, reach truck to articulated trucks or VNA machine.
- Implement high-density storage racking if possible e.g. flow rack.
- Increasing vertical utilisation of the warehouse. This can be done in numerous ways:
- Increasing the height of the racking system
- Creating multiple storage levels.
- Utilising space above receiving and dispatch areas.
- Reducing/eliminating office space on floor level.
Best to prepare detailed plans of the new optimised warehouse layout, with associated capacity and cost calculations. So you know how much capacity you can gain and at what cost.
Where should I build my warehouse or distribution centre?
Many factors come into play when considering a warehouse location:
- Location to customer (secondary distribution cost)
- Location to suppliers (primary distribution costs)
- Rental costs (different areas have different rental rates)
- Other factors:
- Proximity to labour
- Sometime proximity to the boss’s house!
The recommended approach would be to first model the supply chain; including supplier locations, customer locations and associated throughput volumes and cost. A centre of gravity model will determine the mathematical optimal location/s for the warehouse or DC. Once this is determined multiple warehouse options should be explored including retrofitting existing warehouses (brownfield) as well as a new build (greenfield) until the preferred solution is found.
When building a new warehouse, how much additional space must I allow for growth?
Typically a growth projection of 5 – 10 years should be considered. In a developing country like South Africa, 5 years normally provides a more reasonable projection.
How big must my warehouse be?
In an example where a company wants to consolidate various operations into one new warehouse, the common approach is to add the floor area of each operation. This normally results in the new warehouse being far too big. The preferred method is to quantify and model the operational requirements, i.e.
- how many pallets need to be stored
- how many pick faces/products to be stored
- how many trucks to be loaded/offloaded / day etc
- How many shifts
- How many operating hours/day & days/week
- What is the throughput
- What are the stock levels in days of cover
Once the operational requirements are quantified, layout options are prepared. The layouts ensure that the warehouse is sized correctly (floor area and height). The client can visualise the new operation and is then confident that the new warehouse is not too big (incurring additional rental or build costs) or too small (resulting in operational inefficiencies and additional offsite rental) and allows for sufficient growth.
What is the difference between shelving and racking?
Shelving comprises shelves (steel or wooden) and upright posts. Shelving is used to store small parts and parts are stored and picked by hand. The typical dimensions of shelves are 900mm wide x 300 – 600mm deep x +/-2000mm high. The normal finish is galvanised or powder-coated grey or ivory.
Racking comprises of beams and frames. Racking is normally used to store pallets, which are loaded onto the racks using a forklift or reach truck. The typical dimensions of racking are 2700mm wide x 900 – 1100mm deep x 4-12m high. Normal finish is powder coated, the beams are orange and the frames are blue.
Do I need building plan approval for a mezzanine floor?
This is a question that is often asked. A key point here is that all the mezzanine structures supplied by Warehouse Technologies are free-standing, self-supporting structures. They cannot (by law) be connected or attached to the building. If a structure is attached to the building it becomes part of the structure and building regulations will then apply and building plan approval is required.
To avoid the confusion between a mezzanine floor that is part of the building structure and a self-supporting, free-standing mezzanine floor, we call the mezzanine floor a raised loading or raised storage platform. The structures supplied are designed to the required floor loadings. All structural steel fabrication conforms to SANS 10161 & 10162 and /or SEMA codes of practice and other acceptable engineering practices, design codes and procedures.
An Engineer’s approval of design letter is provided upon request.
What types of mezzanine floors do you supply?
We supply 2 types of mezzanine floors or raised storage platforms:
- Structural Steel Floor
This floor is constructed from structural steel components. Spans of up to 8m are possible. This type of floor is suitable when larger open spaces are required under the floor.
- Rack supported Floor
This floor is constructed using racking components. Spans of up to 4m are possible. This type of floor is more cost effective.
What types or racking are available?
The following types of racking are the main types available:
- Standard APR racking – accounts for 95% of all installations
- Double-deep racking
- Flow racking
- Push back racking
- Drive In / Through racking
- Radio Shuttle racking
- Mobile racking
Please browse through the website to see more information regarding the different types of racking and their application.
What are the timelines when installing racking or shelving?
The timeline depends on the size of the installation and type of racking, shelving or mezzanine floor being installed. Manufacturing lead time for 99% of our projects is 3 – 4 weeks. Installation time can vary from 1 day to 6 months depending on size and space available.
For all installations we work closely with the client and work out the best possible installation programme to minimise disruption of the operation as well as completing as fast as possible. All components are pre-manufactured which makes assembly on site quicker than expected.