4 Guidelines for Efficient Warehouse Layouts

If you’ve ever tried to lay out warehouse pallet racking, you will know that it can be frustrating to accommodate the building columns. It’s practically impossible to avoid having columns in the middle of the racking or drive aisles. It is possible, however, to design a building to have the ideal column spacing that will maximize the amount of storage available within the building.

1. Building Columns

Building columns are the vertical columns that support the structure’s ceiling. These might be in a variety of designs and sizes. They’re generally spaced 40 or 50 feet apart by structural engineers and architects because of standard steel mill member lengths. If you can design your building around your equipment and intended use inside, you can work with these lengths and get the best space possible out of your facility.

For single-deep racking, if the columns are spaced at 40 feet, the columns will be directly in the flue space and out of the way of the pallets and fork truck aisles. For example, a building that has columns spaced on 40 foot centres will allow for a singe-deep pallet racking layout with aisle widths of around 11 feet, seven inches. This is using 42-inch deep racks.

2. Optimize Pallet Rack Layout

You can’t just go into the warehouse and place pallet racking wherever you want. You will need to know where shipping and receiving will happen, where the staging areas will be, where any offices will be located, where the lunch room is located, and what type of forklift you will use. It is best to work with a custom material handling solutions company with years of experience in warehouse facility layouts.

One way to design a layout is to draw it out initially as efficiently as possible, as if there were no columns or obstructions in the building. Next, draw in the obstructions and columns and then adjust your initial layout as little as possible to accommodate those obstructions.

3. Layout Is Important

There are two things you can do to avoid having building columns outside of the racking and inside fork truck drive aisles: either position the racking so that the building columns are within the racking itself, or position the pallet racking so that the building columns are in the flue spaces of the pallet racking.

The spacing between pallet racks, where the fork truck will drive, will depend on the size of the forklift that will be used. A large sit-down fork truck needs 12 feet of space between rack rows. A small sit-down forklift needs around 10 feet. A stand-up reach truck needs around nine feet of aisle space. If you will use a swing mast lift truck, it only needs around 60 inches since it won’t need to turn in the aisle.

4. Flue Space

The flue space is the space between back-to-back rows of pallet racking. These rows are connected with row spacers, which are usually 12 inches long. This allows for pallets to overhang in the back, and also leaves space for fire suppression if needed. One benefit of the flue space is that it also provides space for building columns to be placed within the racking.

The ideal positioning will allow the building columns to fall within the flue spaces.

In the past, most warehouses were smaller than 10,000 square feet; however, now warehouses tend to be over 25,000 square feet with a large number of them being over 100,000 square feet.

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