Space utilisation in materials handling
Space is a critical cost factor in materials handling, and just like every other cost, it needs to be managed and controlled. If done efficiently space utilisation offers business improvement and a competitive advantage.
MAKING MORE SPACE
In the world of materials handling, space is fundamentally the first ingredient. Walls, roof and fresh air is basically it. But with building costs for a basic industrial unit coming in at around £1000 M2 and typical rents for a smallish industrial shed in the Midlands at around £300k per annum, space is a critical cost factor. And just like every other cost, it needs to be managed and controlled. If done efficiently space utilisation offers business improvement and a competitive advantage.
In warehousing and logistics, just like in New York and Singapore, when space is tight and rents are high, the only answer is narrow streets and tall buildings. So high racking and very narrow aisles is the response. Companies have long recognised that narrow aisles and higher racking delivers increased capacity, optimised utilisation and lower cost. And where business growth demands, operations need to be scaled up, the option of increasing capacity through redesign rather than relocate can be both more economical and much less disruptive on the business.
Achieving an effective warehouse redesign or even in a new build, factoring in future growth is not easy. It can mean dealing with several contractors and specialists to create a solution. If not planned and executed carefully it can have a really negative impact on the materials handling operation.
Midlands-based Amvar Handling solutions has become a leading specialist in the mid-size warehouse and materials handling integration. They bring together all the expertise, skills and equipment to design, build and operate a materials handling operation in a complete end-to-end service.
When Joerns Healthcare decided to inboard their logistics from a previous 3PL partner to gain greater control and flexibility and to reduce costs the challenge was all about time and space. A smaller footprint and a 6-month timescale. Amvar Handling Solutions designed a space efficient layout and materials handling equipment to achieve a more efficient operation. The project achieved its deadline and realised a 28% saving, with the expectation that this could be extended further to gain more efficiencies and cost reduction.
Amvar included TCM brand RTS swivel reach trucks which features a 180 degree fork rotation incorporated into a narrow aisle stacker which increased the efficiency of delivery container emptying by 15-20%. These work in combination with high level order pickers. Overall space utilisation has been maximised and costs reduced.
Business expansion can bring new challenges as businesses work through the competing options of relocation versus working smarter with the space they have. When international transport business Jeavons Eurotir took on new business involving automotive glass components - essentially unpacking, preparing and repackaging ready to be delivered directly to car plant production lines - it was obvious that this operation would need its own safe and separate space.
Options involved acquiring an additional warehouse, which would need to be offsite as their current space availability would not accommodate any further extension. It would mean taking on extra costs in all sorts of ways. So, they opted to incorporate a mezzanine floor within the existing warehouse to provide the extra space and capacity. The challenge however was that the only realistic place to locate was above a busy despatch area. Step forward Amvar Handling Solutions who designed and constructed a new 470 M2 mezzanine floor right on top of it in just three weeks with no disruption to normal activity.
To complete the project, Amvar also supplied specialised handling equipment for the new work area and a heavy-duty forklift for the loading bay.
The advantage of a single-source provider like Amvar is that they provide both complete design and project management and supply every piece of kit and equipment from forklifts and racking to pallet trucks and hi-vis jackets.
Space can be costly, unless you know how to handle it.