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As you’ve surely learned through your time in the industry, not all warehouses are created equal. There’s different uses and needs that each warehouse can fulfill, and as a result there’s a ton of different sizes, designs, and layouts that you can encounter.


One of the most common discrepancies in warehouse design tends to be size. Warehouses can come in a number of sizes, each of them requiring different techniques for optimization and ideal design.


If your distribution centers tend to run a little on the small side, or if you just need some advice on making the most of smaller work areas, here’s a couple tips and strategies to help you optimize small warehouses:


Stricter space/zone usage. Bigger warehouses have the luxury of being a little more flexible with their zone usage, devoting more space to areas, or even having a little unused space – smaller warehouses, however, can’t really go for that option. When organizing or remodeling your warehouse, make sure to set hard and fast boundaries for each zone to make the most of your space and prevent any needed operations from getting crowded out.


Prioritize inventory movement. Smaller warehouses, no matter how much warehouse storage they might have, are going to have inherently less space for inventory storage. The best way to deal with this is to make inventory movement a top priority and focus on a FIFO (first in first out) system to keep things moving and make sure there’s always space for new items to come through.


Review your current storage. Space is at a premium in smaller warehouses, so making the most of your storage is a going concern. Careful repositioning and prioritization of things like wire shelving and pallet racks are crucial for making sure you have enough room for everything, and making the most of what you have is key – you’re probably not going to have enough space to keep expanding, so you’re going to have to learn to organize a little smarter than in bigger facilities.


Staff as needed. You’re not going to have a lot of room for workers to get around, so to combat the need for labor you’ll want to staff accordingly. Review your shipping patterns and peak days/times for labor, and staff according to need – that way there’s still room to work effectively while keeping staffing at the limit it needs to be to make sure things still get done.


Set goals and track metrics carefully. KPIs are always important in warehouses, but it goes double for smaller warehouses that need more careful monitoring. Set measurable goals and standards for performance to make sure everything is being tracked and updated correctly, and then make sure these goals are stuck to – otherwise, what’s the point of measuring them?

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