Future-Proof Your Warehouse With Flexible Systems
Call it direct-to-consumer, call it e-commerce – by any name, it means big changes and big challenges for warehousing. Warehouses nowadays are being called upon to handle two quite different types of fulfillment: single-location pallet-size picking, and multiple-location small parcel picking. That duality calls for different staffing, different equipment, different order systems, different security – all under the same roof.
Most warehouses were built at a time prior to e-commerce, when racking systems were designed for pallets. Now the mass volumes of single-parcel shipments require multi-level racks with mezzanines, unlike the tall stacks of pallet racks.
Along with the variety of racks comes picking complexity. Different types of truck and trolley equipment and different staff headcount is required for each type of fulfillment – pallet or single-parcel.
Some companies are building additional warehouses designated for e-commerce fulfillment only. Others are reconfiguring and refitting their existing warehouses to create flexible, adaptable usage under one roof.
Within these refitted warehouses, movable partitions let warehouse managers define areas according to fulfillment type, and equip and staff them accordingly. In each defined area, racks and automated storage are customized for e-commerce or for large palletized shipments. Security cages can be strategically placed along these movable partitions as needed.
Vertical storage systems are particularly beneficial for the e-commerce side, taking up little floor space while accommodating a range of product sizes, shapes, and weights. They have the advantage of giving a single picking location for a variety of products, as well as reducing the strain injuries so prevalent among warehouse workers.
With such a range of fulfillment activities within one building, a modular office positioned on the warehouse floor or on a mezzanine lets managers be on the spot to supervise workers. These modular offices can be moved, expanded, or contracted as shippers’ needs change, and as movable partitions are rearranged to respond to shifts in warehouse space utilization.
A flexible-use warehouse lets companies adapt to changing fulfillment needs quickly and easily, to take advantage of today’s consumer habits as well as being positioned for tomorrow’s changes. Even if building additional warehouse space is the best solution for the long term, the construction time can delay a company’s ability to meet e-commerce demands. Adapting the current facility with flexible warehouse systems lets a business stay in business.
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