One of our clients, an international supplier of office furniture and space solutions, had acquired a much larger warehouse to move to as a result of continued growth and wanted the most optimal layout for it. One challenge here was that part of the new DC had a diagonal wall, so the usual square layouts for DCs were not applicable.

Analysis

Our consultant Olivier Berghuis began with an analysis of the furnisher’s various goods to distinguish those with fast turnaround times from those with slower turnaround times. In addition, he analyzed all the volumes flowing through the warehouse to make it fit with the available space. Moreover, due to the massive working-from-home in the first year of the corona period, a large part of the new DC had to be set up for (voluminous) home workstations. Because the company also has to process international shipments (inventory that had to be sorted and consolidated with the associated larger inventory volumes such as complete containers), the DC also had to have an appropriate layout for these activities.

Approach

Olivier set up the DC so that fast goods could also receive fast handling. Goods with slower turnover rates were given spots further away in the DC. Packing and repacking stations were placed at strategic locations so that the number of physical movements for employees would be minimized. Olivier also moved the original office from the back to the front so that it would be directly adjacent to the docks, and therefore would also require less physical movement by employees. In the center of the space, Olivier placed a control station from which employees could efficiently monitor all areas of the DC. With recognizable herringbone motifs, Olivier indicated special floor compartments for the goods that have a final destination, known as ready compartments. With these angled boxes, the electric pallet trucks were able to bring and retrieve their pallets with less movement. Finally, Olivier ensured that the new warehouse could be connected to the existing systems. The entire process was accomplished within three months.

The physical layout involved more than just placing shelving. Olivier: “We had to work a lot with third parties. Think of placing the racking, taking away old floor lines and putting new lines on the floor (also for walkways and safety markings), and placing temporary and permanent office space. The installation of water, electricity and data also had to be taken care of, as well as location markings in various forms with logic that everyone could understand.”

Retrospective

Looking back, Olivier says: “It is essential to know the turnover rate of the different goods you have in your DC and what space you need to allocate to each type of goods. Because we were also able to stack up to thirteen meters high in this DC, we were able to achieve a very efficient layout with a minimum of movements. Everything that belongs together is also close together. I also made the original stock compartments smaller, because the usual size at 1.40 meters, that of euro pallets, turned out to be too big. In fact, practice showed that smaller pallets were used 85% of the time, and you can load them more efficiently if you base your stock compartments on that size as well. You shouldn’t base a layout only on exceptions.”

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