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Simple Ways to Make Your Warehouse More Sustainable

Commercial and manufacturing warehouses are the beating hearts of America. The steady drumbeat of workers accomplishing tasks, shipping products, and arranging orders can be almost cathartic. Yet behind this operational facility, there is hidden untold waste. From lost hours due to inefficiency all the way to actual climate problems pertaining to roofing materials, it can help to address your building’s sustainability.

At KACO Warehouse Outfitters, sustainability is a problem that can be addressed through a variety of solutions.

Address Your Materials

Reduce, reuse, recycle. The order of words is very important when it comes to integrating sustainable policies in our day-to-day actions. At your warehouse, the easiest way to immediately reduce waste is by limiting or outright banning single-use materials such as bubble wrap, acrylic packing tape, and even plastic silverware.

If nothing else, take some time to integrate a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle system within your company. Small savings every day can add up to major milestones by the end of the year.

Assess For Energy Leaks

While commercial warehouses require hardy workers doing difficult tasks, the buildings themselves can still underperform due to common oversights. Warehouses are often massive, sprawling structures with a lack of proper insulation. This can lead to areas where energy is being wasted, called waste spots.

For warehouses, it’ll take some doing to find all the boost wasteful energy spots in the building. Often, this means addressing seals surrounding doors and windows, lighting installations, and all filters within the HVAC system. Consider working with professional warehouse outfitters and HVAC experts to make this process a breeze.

Consider Your Ventilation Systems

Finally, we need every warehouse manager or owner to consider a closer look at their in-house HVAC system. HVAC units have come a long way since they were first made affordable on the market, but that doesn’t mean that every warehouse is outfitted with the right system.

Large warehouses may benefit from special swamp coolers which can boost airflow while relieving excess heat on those excessively hot days. Being careful about which doors are installed and how often they are open can have an impact on your energy consumption, as well. Become sustainable by also considering green energy HVAC systems, the kind that may lead to a tax rebate from the government.

About KACO Outfitters

For more than thirty years, the team at KACO Outfitters has been entirely fo1cused on offering customers throughout Arizona quality shelving, storage, and warehouse design solutions. KACO Outfitters stands above the competition thanks to their local warehouse storage solutions, allowing the team at KACO to pass savings right onto the customer.

KACO Outfitters offers a full-service approach to your warehouse solutions. Excellence in customer service is the norm and trust, respect, and integrity are the foundational components of every interaction.

To get started on your warehouse renovation, reach out to KACO Warehouse Outfitters for an estimate.

image of someone using hand sanitizer

How the Coronavirus Changed Warehouse Management and Design

COVID-19 seemed to have come out of nowhere. In fact, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, warehouses were pressed to keep workers safe. They needed to stay open, but they needed to do it safely. In the beginning, no one knew how hard this pandemic would hit, but there was time to learn what worked and what didn’t work and warehouses are now better able to design a system that keeps inventory flowing and workers safe.

Warehouses across the country, including KACO Warehouse in Arizona, have had to rethink their business models to stop COVID-19 from spreading in the workplace. For example, warehouses have altered their design to accommodate social distancing. Without these measures, warehouses would not be able to stay open. Other ways warehouses are staying safe is by mask-wearing, temperature checks, and taking a fresh look at sick leave policies. This safety issue has been going on since March and since then, warehouses have implemented a number of safety precautions, one of which is rigorously cleaning tractors and forklifts, something that will likely continue once the pandemic is gone.

When it comes to redesigning warehouse space, it is all about how the workers navigate the warehouse and maintain six feet of social distancing while they’re working or on break and technology is helping. There are algorithms that know when employees are maintaining social distancing in warehouse aisles, along with cameras that are linked to a central hub. This technology is not there to spy on workers but to use algorithms to create safe routes for workers to follow when storing or accessing inventory. This technology goes so far to know when an employee is not working up to their capacity, which could be a sign they’re sick.

All of this came at a time when e-commerce began to skyrocket and that’s even before the holidays hit. With people in lockdown and not out shopping, we saw a huge spike in demand in 2020. In order to keep up with this demand, warehouses needed to implement safety measures and quickly. E-commerce sales before 2020 even ended jumped from 80 million to over 200 million. And the trend is not slowly down. Purchasing online is now the first option for many people locked down and needing supplies.

With no sign of the pandemic slowing down, the new safety measures implemented in warehouses across the country will remain for the unforeseeable future. There’s no reason to scrap them anytime soon. For most warehouses across the country, these new business models have worked. Consumers have no idea what has had to go on behind the scenes to make sure they received their delivery. Warehouses have had to make a lot of changes to stay in business, but it has certainly been worth it both for the companies and or consumers.

 

image of storage in warehouse

Dynamic vs. Static Storage

When planning the warehouse design of your facility, it’s important to take the time to determine the best layout. The warehouse design plays a critical role in operations. It can mean the difference between profit and loss. You want the design to be conducive to improving productivity and efficiency. You may even want to consider using a professional to assist you in the planning of your warehouse design. Distribution and warehouse center layouts include four elements: static storage, dynamic storage, receiving and shipping. Typically, these elements are laid out according to the space of the facility. Handling equipment and product are also considered in the layout of a warehouse.

The static storage space in a warehouse is where products are stored. And products are generally stored on pallets. The dynamic storage area is called the “forward pick.” That’s because this is the area where products are picked for fulfillment. Once items in the dynamic storage area are selected, they are quickly replenished.  Several factors of the dynamic storage area often include different types of racking to lessen overall pick time. It’s also called the pick module. The pick module is designed o the material handling equipment. For example, first-out pallet storage may be accessed by forklifts. Within this configuration, a selective rack may be included.

Also known as the reserve storage area, the static area is used to reserve palletized storage. For products that need higher selectivity, a drive-through rack may be a good option.

It’s important to take into consideration both static storage and dynamic storage when planning the layout of your warehouse. And the through-flow needs to also be considered. U-shaped warehouses are very common/ In this layout, receiving and shipping docks are right next to each other. I-shaped and L-shaped warehouse product flow layouts provide larger sorting and storage areas for both receiving and shipping docks.

Racking System Types for Dynamic and Static Storage Areas

The types of racking systems that you choose for the dynamic and static storage areas will be dependent on the needs for product flow. These systems come in two groups, “first-in, first-out” and “last-in, first-out.” The racking types that you use for both the dynamic and static storage areas of the warehouse or distribution center should be chosen for your product operations. Racking systems can be separated into two groups: “first-in, first-out (FIFO)” and “last-in, first-out (LIFO)”. The FIFO rack system works well when rapid stock rotation, high turnover rate and products with an expiration date are used. For example, food storage would require FIFO racking systems. Options of this racking system include pallet flow, drive-through, carton flow and selective. LIFO racking systems work well for an inventory that has a long shelf life. It also works well for items stored in large quantities. Options of this racking system include push back, double-deep selective and drive-in.

image of designed warehouse

The Reasons to Hire a Professional Warehouse Designer

Even though you may think you can design your own warehouse, there are many good reasons to use a professional warehouse designer instead. It’s unusual for anyone to who’s not a professional to have all the skills and knowledge to do this. Let’s take a look at the reasons why using a professional warehouse designer is a better option.

Maxing Efficiency

Efficiency is a critical factor in warehouse design. The better the efficiency of your warehouse design, the better the revenue. Designing a warehouse is not a one-size-fits-all task. No two facilities are the same. The layout of a warehouse design will affect efficiency. Everything from equipment to type of storage systems plays a role in warehouse design. A design professional can analyze the unique and specific needs of your warehouse to develop the best storage system for both vertical and horizontal space that is available in your warehouse. Plus, a warehouse designer professional will determine the best rack systems and equipment to use in your warehouse. The end result is that you get the best plan to maximize space for efficiency.

The Latest Technology

Professional warehouse designers use the latest technology to yield efficient handling, operational flexibility and maximum product storage. In addition, they can advise you of the latest software and technologies to optimize loading, reduce handling, ramp up communication, streamline picking processes and optimize shipping.

A Current Operational Assessment

There’s more to warehouse design than just planning for space. It entails a deep analysis of your current operations along with a plan for future growth. An experienced warehouse designer will consider the current growth rate of your facility and plan for expansion and overstock storage.

Sustainable Design Initiative

With a professional warehouse designer, you’ll get an environmentally sustainable design. This will help the environment and also save you money in the long run. Design professionals can help you select eco-friendly options to conserve water, reduce waste, minimize energy usage and optimize the facility for eco-friendliness.

The Right Permits

Professional warehouse designers have experience with all the permits that your facility will need. They also know how to get the job done quickly to avoid costly delays.

All around, a professional warehouse designer can make all the difference in developing a system to meet your operational challenges. With all the benefits of a professional warehouse designer, you can’t ignore the fact that it’s better to hire one than to try and do it yourself.

 

image of designed warehouse

Key Factors in Warehouse Design

When it comes to warehouse design, there are a few key factors to think about. You’ve got to think about outbound logistics, what happens in the warehouse and outbound logistics. Whether your company has one warehouse or multiple warehouses, the choice of location will influence costs, efficiency and service. If fast service is a part of your service, you’ll want to have the warehouse located close facilities of your carriers or close to where your customers are located. In addition to lead time and supply chain velocity, you’ll also need to think about the processes in the warehouse, storage, receiving and dispatch volumes. The goal is to focus on network optimization. How quick are your inventory returns? What’s the strategy for the best customer service. Also, there are physical requirements. Is your process manual or automated? And when it comes to inbound logistics, you’ve got to consider these questions. What are the lead times for incoming deliveries? Where are your supplier located? How reliable are your suppliers?

All About the FAST Concept

The FAST concept is the acronym for flow, accessibility, space and throughout. You can apply this concept to the layout of your warehouse design. The objective of FAST is to enable smooth workflows with an emphasis on warehouse location and service. It’s a tried and proven concept that you can use when designing a warehouse.

Once you know how many warehouses and their locations, then think about structural design and capacity. In order to focus on structural design and capacity, as yourself these questions.

  • What takes place in the warehouse? What are the daily operations? What areas do you need for intake, storage, packing, picking and dispatch? Where will you locate any value-added services?
  • What are the characteristics of the products? What types of products are stored? Are these products fragile or hazardous? Will you be using cartons or full pallets for storage? Are there rules and regulations for the storage of the products? Is any type of control needed in the environment, such as temperature control for frozen goods?
  • Does the season affect the storage? If volumes vary depending on the season, you’ll have to allow the proper capacity for this. Does your warehouse handle returns from customers? If it does, you’ll likely need extra space for this processing and storage.

Applying the FAST Concept to Warehouse Layout Design

Let’s begin with F for flow. Here, the concern is the uninterrupted flow of movement, including people, products and traffic. The goal here is to ensure there are no cross-flow clashes in the operations of the warehouse. There should be a logical sequence of operations inside the warehouse. A smooth flow of operations includes no disruption and a limited amount of movement. Time is money. With uninterrupted flow, you’ll be maximizing revenue.

Accessibility not only includes being able to get to the product, but to the packaging unit. Can the product be assessed via a truckload or a pallet load? How do the products in your facility get from one place to another? You’ll need to think about whether or not the strict policy of first-in-first-out (FIFO) applies to your product, since you’ve got to be certain that you’re in compliance.  In the case of bottled water, you may have to access inventory in a store stock room. For example, with pharmaceuticals, access may be needed to fast-moving stock area, and that takes space.

Let’s move on to space. Warehouse space should always be maximized for stock processing reasons and for operational storage. All space should be planned and utilized wisely. Keep in mind that you’ll need space for offices and working areas. Be sure to make optimal use of the cubic capacity of the space and not just the floor area. Build flexibility into the operation by using the best storage media that can evolve. This way, when your operations grow, you’re in place strategies can grow with it.

Throughout entails the nature of the product and its velocity. Characteristics like size, dimensions and shape have to be taken into consideration. The velocity of the product will depend on the volume of what’s moving in the warehouse. Use data media to assist in the layout of the design, and get the facts.  The better the data; the less the risk.

Without a doubt, there’s a lot to think about in warehouse design. It’s not an easy or simple task. Planning and designing is an important undertaking that requires a lot of thought. The main point is to understand that flow, accessibility, space and throughout must be in place for maximum efficiency. If you’re not certain on how to do this, consider consulting a specialist with plenty of experience in warehouse design. A specialist will be able to ensure that your warehouse design and operations work for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Ways To Be More Efficient In Your Warehouse

It’s important for warehouse owners and managers to keep an eye out for their efficiency levels. From knowing how to increase productivity to decreasing energy consumption, achieving higher efficiency can limit waste and boost revenue at the same time. To increase efficiency in a warehouse, you will likely need to invest in new equipment and machinery. This type of investment can make the warehouse more efficient in more ways than one. Keep reading to learn four ways your investment in increasing efficiency throughout the warehouse can have a huge payoff.

Track Power Consumption

You need equipment that tracks your energy consumption. With the data you collect, you can pinpoint which tasks require the most energy and time. You can even identify which days of the week your warehouse consumes the most energy. With this knowledge, it becomes easier to see where and how to reduce energy consumption. Take for example the data reveals the heating and cooling system accounts for the largest percentage of the warehouse’s overall consumption of energy. This knowledge indicates a need for upgrades throughout the warehouse’s HVAC system.

Increase Your Recycling Activities

There are likely several nearby recycling companies that you can partner with to increase your warehouse’s recycling activities. Some of these companies remove and recycle waste for you while others can even help you make a profit off of recycling. With the right equipment, though, you can easily recycle internally. This means you can take the warehouse’s waste, recycle it, and use it again. Take for example you want to recycle the warehouse’s garbage and use it as compost. This is completely doable with the right equipment, an excellent way to increase efficiency, and is also very friendly to Mother Nature.

Boost Productivity

Making a warehouse more efficient becomes quite simple when you figure out how to increase its overall productivity. Some of the best ways to increase productivity are to tinker with the systems you have to make operations more efficient, get rid of workplace distractions, and ensure you have managers in place who prioritize efficiency. It’s also highly suggested that you provide workers with a comfortable break area. This is another reason to invest in new equipment and machinery for the warehouse, even in the break areas. You want to make sure workers have access to drinks, food, and a place to sit and stretch.

Reduce Maintenance Fees

Lastly, improving efficiency is a great way to reduce maintenance fees, particularly when you use modern equipment. Today’s modern equipment uses advanced technology to deploy the latest green practices and reduce energy consumption. This results in fewer instances of necessary maintenance, which translates into reduced maintenance fees.

Final Thoughts

Increasing efficiency in your warehouse should be a top priority. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to have an operations manager solely devoted to this task. This ensures you have someone at all times working to make sure the warehouse is using the most up to date methods for decreasing energy consumption and increasing efficiency.

Ensure Warehouse Location Flexibility With These Labeling Solutions

Have you recently felt pressure on your product inventory and location management processes due to the huge increase in SKUs from e-commerce and omni-channel operations? If so, you’re not alone. The demand for quick delivery of products means warehouses need an up-to-date labeling system that quickly tracks items in order to get them to the customer as soon as possible. Read on to learn more about just how important a flexible labeling system is to your warehouse and its profitability.

The Importance of Keeping Up with Identification Labels

According to Gregg Schiltz, the chief operation officer of ID Labels, today’s environment requires a warehouse storage racking system with new identification labels that are flexible and can accommodate change in promotions, changing seasons, and momentum. He goes further to say that maximizing inventory is a real challenge for warehouse managers. However, a functioning label system overcomes this challenge.

Why is Flexible, Racking Labeling So Popular?

Warehouses are frequently using racking labeling more often. This is because it works well with inventory fluctuations, location changes, and third-party fulfillment.  “We’re seeing growing demand for barcode labeling solutions that can accommodate our customers’ needs for rack location identification flexibility,” Schiltz said. He goes on to recommend flexible labeling products for any warehouse facility looking for maximum capacity.

In-Place Bar Code Labels Have Too Many Challenges

Many warehouses still rely on in-place barcode labels and find themselves facing challenges. According to Schilitz, the labels can get easily damaged or peel off. Also, he states that these barcodes are nothing short of time-consuming, not to mention unproductive, especially when you need to remove old labels for new ones. This is both tedious and time-consuming. Warehouse managers could save time by simply sticking a new paper barcode over an old one, but is this really a viable solution? Not for the long term. Customers will see this as lazy and unappealing. Also, if the new label doesn’t completely cover the old one, this can lead to scan errors and loss of productivity.

Choose Flexibility in Warehouse Labeling

Keeping track of inventory, changing prices, and collection of data all depend upon barcode labels. A well-run, efficient warehouse needs flexible labeling to keep up with fluctuation prices and other changes in product. A label that is durable will easily stick to beams, racks, boxes, and individual products. In addition, choose a label with a quick-release top coating so it’s easy to relabel when the need arises.  Another option includes magnetic barcode labels, especially for cold/freezer warehouses.

Stay Efficient and Keep Up with Demand

Customers do not want to wait for their product. With Amazon offering next or even same day delivery, consumers are getting used to quick delivery. That means the way you run your supply chain needs to keep up with the demand for almost instantaneous delivery. With the right flexible labels, your warehouse will run like a well-oiled machine. You’ll be able to quickly find what you’re looking for and get it out to the customer quickly. Warehouses that fall behind on labeling technology will also find themselves falling behind the competition. Instead, bring your warehouse up to date with the right labeling system.