Moving from one warehouse to another is a challenging task. Not only is it difficult to move heavy duty storage racks, pallets, and inventory, but there are many added logistical issues. From assessing your current warehouse design and processes to building ideas for your new space, the job is complex and demanding.
Planning ahead using the following tips can help ensure your warehouse move is as smooth and efficient as possible.
1. Assess current layout
Before you begin to design your new warehouse layout, assess your current warehouse. This includes your storage, picking, packing, and shipping locations. Make sure you have noted every type of storage you currently use, as well as special storage requirements such as temperature-controlled rooms.
If there are any problem areas in your current warehouse layout, take time to determine what the issues are. For example, the aisles between your pallet racks could be too narrow, slowing the access of forklifts. You can then take steps to avoid these issues recurring in your new warehouse.
2. Check size of the new building
The size of your new warehouse will often be the first aspect considered when selecting a new site. When planning for your move, make sure to take all dimensions into account, including height. This allows you to optimize the use of the building and your storage.
3. Consider the new footprint
Before planning the layout of your new warehouse, consider the footprint you will be working with. Even if the new warehouse is a comparable size to your current one, the shape may be very different.
Making any plans before looking at the new footprint will often be a waste of time. Remember to consider the locations of your docking bays. Doorways, communal spaces, and office space will also impact your design plan.
4. Remember height
The height of your new warehouse will have a significant impact on your move. You may be planning to reuse your current shelving or pallet racks. If so, they must be an appropriate height for the space.
You may plan to expand into your vertical space with the use of structures such as pallet rack mezzanines. While useful, these must have adequate space in order to follow OSHA safety regulations.
5. Check new codes and safety procedures
Your new warehouse might have different codes and safety procedures to follow. It is best to ensure familiarity with these well before the move takes place. This will impact several areas of your new warehouse design.
Some locations forbid the storage of any stock in a warehouse that has not been brought up to code, even if you have not started running operations there yet.
Contact the authoritative body in charge of safety codes in your new area. Make sure obtaining the information is a high priority for those organizing the move.
6. Obtain permits in advance
Any permits required for the new warehouse should be obtained as early as possible. Red tape can cause significant delays when relocating to a new warehouse. Some areas may require all permits to be obtained before you can even begin the move.
Additionally, your permits may affect the design of your warehouse layout. For example, the height of your shelves or racking may require a high pile permit in order to meet sprinkler clearance standards.
7. Make a detailed layout plan
While you may already have a plan for your new warehouse layout, go over it carefully to ensure it is as detailed as possible. This will be used as a guide for the moving process. The more detailed the plan, the fewer questions that need to be asked during the move.
Your layout must include safety considerations, such as the evacuation route. Special considerations such as the storage of hazardous materials should also be accounted for. Make sure you follow OSHA standards for aisle width.
8. Map out your processes
You should be able to use your new layout map to demonstrate all processes within the warehouse. These will vary depending on the nature of your warehouse. For example, you should be able to see clearly how a product might move from long term storage to the picking area and then to packing.
9. Keep basic processes in place
While moving gives you the chance to upgrade in certain areas, it can be dangerous to make too many changes at once. It is often challenging to adapt to a new warehouse layout. Altering too many of your processes at the same time may confuse your employees.
For example, you may plan to use a new delivery and receiving system or change your warehouse management software. Consider the time and energy it might take to implement, such as change in an already familiar environment. It will be even more difficult in a new warehouse. Take your time and make the changes once you are settled.
10. Perform a complete inventory
A complete inventory is vital for your moving process. You must be able to keep track of every piece of stock as it is transferred into the new warehouse.
All inventory should be organized before the move. Moving inventory around the warehouse takes additional time and may not seem worthwhile if you are about to transport it to a new location. However, this crucial step prevents confusion and potentially expensive delays during the move.
11. Scale down your inventory
Transporting aged or dead inventory will needlessly add to your moving costs. When your inventory has been assessed, go through the list and note all surplus items. These can be removed before the move takes place.
12. Consider all storage types
You may be planning to use your current storage units in your new space. While these may be suitable for the new warehouse, consider whether they are your best option.
Your needs may have changed since you bought your original storage units. The moving process can be a perfect time to look at alternative storage ideas. While you may not want to change too much, you may consider upgrading to a new type of racking or shelving.
For example, some warehouses may store drums of liquid on pallets, having done so for years. When setting up new storage for a new warehouse, you could consider installing drum racks instead. There are many similar changes you can make to optimize your storage.
13. Look at opportunities for optimization
When assessing your current storage, look for any areas of waste. This includes wasted space and wasted time.
For example, if you are using large industrial shelving to store small products, you may be wasting vertical or horizontal space. When choosing storage for your new warehouse, you could select a more streamlined option such as lighter wire shelving.
If using an automated picking system such as a vertical lift or a carousel, moving locations could give you an opportunity to look at new systems. For businesses that rely on automated processes, a faster and more efficient unit can help you optimize time in your new warehouse.
14. Leave space to grow
You may be moving to a new warehouse as part of an expansion. However, if you set up a space that is only just large enough, you may need to move again soon. When selecting a site, look for somewhere that has space for you to grow.
Similarly, when setting up your racks and shelving, make sure you can expand within the space if necessary. This may mean horizontal or vertical expansion.
15. Dedicate personnel
Many companies will remain in operation during the move process. This allows you to keep trading without a costly break. However, it can add to your planning difficulties. The hours it takes to plan and execute a move are considerable, and trying to do so while fully engaged in regular work is extremely difficult.
If possible, elect at least one member of the company to manage the move, and possibly a small team. They do not have to work exclusively on this project. However, an assigned team can set aside a certain number of hours for the extra work required.
16. Plan all costs
The costs involved in moving warehouses are significant. This can be a worthwhile expense if it allows you to grow your business. However, you should anticipate the costs in advance of the move.
As well as items that need to be purchased, such as storage units, you should also account for the hourly cost of the move. The labor required to set up the new warehouse and its operational systems must be included in your plan if you are to stay within budget.
17. Professional designs
If the many tasks involved in designing a new warehouse seem overwhelming, consider outsourcing the work. Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., offers full design services. This means you can guarantee full optimization of your space, as well as a layout that allows for streamlined processing.
A further benefit to hiring professional designers is that they should already be familiar with the codes and requirements for your area. This helps ensure there are no administrative delays, and that you meet all necessary safety requirements.
18. Overlap operations
If you are continuing operations during the move, it can be advisable to overlap the use of your two warehouses. You can continue operations in your current warehouse while also starting operations in your new warehouse.
This can be difficult to manage, and it is important to separate the different operations you will be running in each warehouse. However, if it can be managed, you can allow yourself additional time and flexibility when setting up your new warehouse.
19. Redirect deliveries
A key point in the moving process is when you start to redirect your deliveries. This may be done in a staggered fashion if you are planning to move in stages.
All deliveries and pending orders should be reviewed as you prepare to move, and addresses changed whenever necessary.
Company mail will also need to be forwarded. This is a particular concern if you will be using your warehouse as your only location, without any external offices.
20. New utility services
Services are an issue that may be forgotten until the last moment. Electricity, phone and internet providers must be established for your new warehouse before you move.
21. Roles for moving
For the move itself, all employees should know in advance what their roles will be. This can include moving the inventory, dismantling storage units, and many other important tasks.
The length of time it takes to move will impact your operations and your business. On the day or days taken for the move, all employees should be able to fulfill their temporary roles as easily as their usual duties.
22. Use professional movers
Using professional movers may be an additional expense. However, the time and effort you save could mean they are more than worth it. A company that specializes in warehouse moves will be familiar with all the logistical difficulties you face.
Professional movers may be particularly important for more complicated equipment that must be dismantled and then set up in the new warehouse.
Automated systems such as a vertical lift or a carousel are especially complicated. Make sure to check whether the manufacturer offers a moving service.
23. Prevent damage
During a move, there are a number of ways damage can occur. Pallets may be dropped, products may be left outside, or a removal truck could be involved in an accident. Even if you are only moving to a warehouse very close by, you should establish standards for packing everything safely.
If moving your storage units as well as your stock, make sure to take safety precautions. It may seem counterintuitive to wrap metal shelving for protection, but dents and other damage may render the units useless.
24. Prevent theft
Unfortunately, there is a risk of theft during a move. Items in transit are generally less secure than those in stable storage. You may find yourself missing stock, equipment, or even storage fixtures.
During the move, make sure there are employees responsible for tracking the items being moved. Using a professional company with guarantees can help with this. However, there should be additional safeguards in place.
25. Be flexible
Many companies are surprised by the time it can take to move to a new warehouse, especially if you are planning the move yourself. Every part of the move has the potential to cause a delay.
When estimating the time required for the move, allow additional hours whenever possible. It is best to assume there will be some delays and allow space in the plan and budget accordingly.
At Shelving + Racking Systems, Inc. we can help you design and install your new warehouse space. Whether you are automating your systems or simply buying used shelving to expand your inventory in your new space let our team of experienced material and handling experts be your warehouse relocation partners. Call 1-800-589-7225 (RACK) or complete our online contact form to speak to an Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. project manager.