Optimizing Warehouse Layout in African Supply Chains

When managing warehouse operations, it becomes immediately apparent why optimizing the layout or space is critical.

Imagine having a warehouse with massive traffic, and everyone is tripping on themselves, or it is increasingly challenging getting to the products in the warehouse.

Optimizing this type of warehouse will prove significantly difficult for any supply chain unless there is an effort to start with the layout.

In this article, we will discuss what to do when optimizing the warehouse layout and the benefits of this optimization.

 

What is Warehouse Layout?

A warehouse layout is a physical setup of aisles, storage areas, and work areas inside a warehouse or storage set-up.

Every good layout is made with the effective storage, transportation, and retrieval of goods in mind. It also takes the workflow, accessibility, and inventory management into account.

Single aisle, double aisle, and bulk storage formats are typical layout formats in the warehouse. When done well, the warehouse layout will simplify operations and ensure they are carried out seamlessly.

 

What to doย  When Optimizing Warehouse Layout

These are strategies or steps to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in layout optimization.

 

1. Analyze the Current Warehouse Throughput

Before optimizing, you must determine the current warehouse processes or operations and how bad or good the current layout is compared to them.

This will help you understand or identify what you need in the warehouse. Analyzing the current warehouse throughput gives you an idea of the level of operation that goes on in the warehouse.

When you know the flow of goods in and out of the warehouse, it will be easy to design a better layout.

It is like designing a building without first understanding the purpose of that building. No matter how great it looks, chances are it will flop when put to use. The same applies to the warehouse layout.

2. Determine the Components of Your Ideal Warehouse

During the layout optimization process, it is important to determine the components of your ideal warehouse. And analyze what it will take to bring it to life.

There is no one standardized layout process, at least not in Africa. There are guidelines and tips to guide the design, implementation, and operation, but there is no compulsory standard.

So, every warehouse might differ in its set-up. They also differ depending on the nature of the product and the movement of goods in and out of the warehouse.

When optimizing your warehouse layout, determine the components you want, including office space, loading area, storage space, etc.

Predetermining these components helps in the design and implementation of the warehouse layout. When itemizing the layout components, also consider their priorities and necessity.

3. Design the Layout

Before physically setting up the layout, you want to create a design first. This could be done on a board, paper, or computer screen. It depends on the level of the supply chain and warehouse.

When designing, take into consideration the components and watch how they fit. Also, work with a team to see if the layout can manage the current throughput of the warehouse.

When designing the layout, you want to bear the following in mind. Access to products, movement of products and equipment, safety, and lead time in order processing.

For instance, it is typical for larger goods or items to be at the back. But, it is also typical for fast-moving goods to be closer to the exit.

When you consider all these, your warehouse layout begins to take shape, and it is optimized for success. Always design your layout with the success of the warehouse output in mind.

4. Consider Product Nature and Material Handling Processes

The product’s nature and the material handling processes are key elements of the warehouse. You must consider them when optimizing the warehouse layout.

The material handling process deals with the movement of the supply chainโ€™s products from the production phase till it gets to the customer. However, its domicile area is the warehouse.

Under material handling, you want to consider the types of equipment used in the process, including the product’s safety and everyone involved.

When considering the productโ€™s nature, look out for its size, durability, and type. This will also help inform you on the safety principles and access to the product.

5. Implement and Deploy WMS

Tech is the lifeblood of the modern supply chain, and this applies to warehouse management as well. Digitizing the warehouse helps in properly utilizing and optimizing the layout.

With the Warehouse management system (WMS), you can easily distribute the goods or products in the warehouse based on algorithms and rules.

These algorithms and rules are computer-generated to maximize space and reduce movements as much as possible. Now, a human can set this up, but it will often take a long time to accomplish.

Additionally, the WMS uses incredibly precise inventory management to ensure the commodities are available while maintaining minimal operating stock levels.

Ultimately, it prevents stockouts and overstocking, which ultimately allows for the optimal use of the warehouse space.

 

Why is Optimizing the Warehouse Layout Beneficial for African Supply Chains?

There are several reasons why warehouse layout is vital for supply chains across Africa.

๐Ÿญ. ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฆ๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜†: Optimizing the warehouse layouts helps with the safety of goods and personnel involved in the warehouse operations. This leads to fewer accidents and damages.

๐Ÿฎ. ๐—™๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ข๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด: The time it takes to process an order is cut short because fewer movements are involved in an optimized warehouse layout.

๐Ÿฏ. ๐—ข๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—›๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด: Although the process typically begins from production and ends when the customer receives the goods, its domicile area is the warehouse. Optimizing the warehouse layout helps make it a seamless process.

๐Ÿฐ. ๐—•๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—จ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—˜๐—พ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ฝ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜€: When optimized properly equipments and tech tools such as automated guided vehicles are properly utilized.

 

Components to Consider When Optimizing the Warehouse Layout

There are a few components your supply chain needs to consider when optimizing its warehouse layout.

  • Storage Systems
  • Aisle Width
  • Inventory Classification
  • Traffic Flow
  • Workstation Placement
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Cross-Docking Areas
  • Safety Considerations
  • Future Expansion
  • Slotting
  • Racking and Shelving Configuration
  • Technology Integration
  • Ergonomics
  • Environmental Considerations
  • Security Measures

 

FAQs on Optimizing Warehouse Layouts for African Supply Chains

Q1: What are the key considerations when designing a warehouse layout for African supply chains?

Considerations include space utilization, traffic flow, accessibility, security, scalability, and suitability for the specific products and materials handled in the region.

 

Q2: How can I determine the ideal aisle width in an African warehouse layout?

The aisle width should balance storage capacity and accessibility, depending on the types of equipment used and the size and weight of the goods.

Consider factors like forklift specifications as well.

 

Q3: What technology solutions can optimise warehouse layout for African supply chains?

Technology solutions like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), RFID, and barcode scanning can improve inventory control, visibility, and tracking.

 

Conclusion

One of the ways African supply chains can improve order delivery and lead times is by optimizing their warehouse layouts. It is also helpful when trying to optimize operations in the warehouse and supply chains.

The strategies listed here will enhance the warehouse layouts and aid general warehouse operations.