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How to optimise warehouse layout


If you aren’t using your warehouse space as effectively as possible, it can have a negative impact on your supply chain, workflow, shipping times, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

A good warehouse layout, on the other hand, can not only streamline your workflow, but it can also create faster shipping times and optimise your operations.

Optimising your warehouse layout offers a number of benefits, helping to:

  • Improve the organisation of the warehouse
  • Improve the accuracy of order picking
  • Save time and money
  • Maximise efficiency and productivity
  • Enhance customer satisfaction

Of course, the optimal layout for your business will depend on a number of factors and will vary from business to business. After all, warehouses are all different shapes and sizes, and many serve a very specific function, so there isn’t one single layout that works best for every warehouse. There are, however, a number of steps that will help you optimise your warehouse layout.

Assess the available warehouse space

Whether you’re setting up a new warehouse or seeking to optimise your existing set-up, your first step should be to carry out an assessment of the space in the warehouse, as well as the surroundings.

Create a map or blueprint showing the space to scale. This can be done by hand or with warehouse design layout software. Whichever approach you take, make sure your measurements are totally accurate. Label what each area is used for, as well as the direction of the work flow.

Assess your inventory

Once you’ve assessed the space, the next step is to assess your inventory to get a thorough understanding of your storage requirements. This will allow you to identify how much space you’ll need for each department or area, any specialist storage you’ll require, such as racking or shelving, as well as environmental factors, such as items that need low-humidity.

Plan the new warehouse layout

Plan how you’re going to set up your space to get the best possible use out of it. Consider all the different methods for storing inventory and setting up workstations. For example, you might find it most effective to group products by type using the organised cluster method, with each cluster being easily accessible for your workers. Or you might find it more beneficial to store everything in aisles at the back, with production and workflow at the front of the warehouse.

Divide your warehouse into levels or sections, and break down each section into sets of aisles, bays, shelves, rows, etc. Keep consulting your inventory to ensure that the warehouse is split into the right sized zones with the appropriate climate conditions.

Utilise vertical space

Remember to make use of every inch of storage space, including vertical space to increase your storage capacity.  There are different methods of storing vertically, including stacking and racking.

Estimate inventory turnover rates

Not all products will move through your warehouse at the same speed. Some will have a high turnover and move through quickly, while others will have much lower turnover.

Storing fast-moving inventory closer to sorting, packing, and shipping stations reduces the time and effort it takes to access them. Differentiating dynamic (fast-moving) and static (slow-moving) storage can help prevent mistakes, while also improving turnaround time.

Label your space

Once you’ve divided up the space, make sure you level it using alpha and numeric characters. This will help to reduce the risk of confusion, while making navigation easier and more efficient.

Loading and unloading

Creating a dedicated space for loading and unloading will help to prevent warehouse bottlenecks, which impact on productivity and efficiency.

Test your new layout

When planning any changes to the warehouse layout, test them out before implementing them and, if there are any issues or problems, adjust your plan accordingly.

At Optima Warehouse Solutions, we can help you optimise your warehouse layout and operations for maximum efficiency. Get in touch to find out more.