Should I Move Warehouses Or Expand My Existing One?

  January 15, 2024      Warehousing

As a business expands, it may find that it needs more warehouse storage space for its products. This can put the business into a difficult position. Relocating a warehouse can not only be costly, but it can also lead to business downtime and other risks. That’s not even mentioning having to find a new and bigger warehouse space, which can also be difficult. Ultimately, having to move to a new and bigger warehouse should be the last resort for a business.

Beyond simply finding a new warehouse site, there are a number of options to increase the storage space in a warehouse and make it more efficient. Let’s explore these.

Is It Possible To Physically Expand A Warehouse?

Anything is possible when it comes to construction, but some solutions aren’t always feasible.

Assuming a business is renting their warehouse space from a landlord, they may not be able to make permanent or near permanent alterations to the base building like physically expanding the warehouse. The landlord may agree to the alterations, but may still want the alterations removed for the final make good when the business moves out. This may make things too expensive in the long term.

This, of course, is all assuming that the land the warehouse is sitting on has the space for the expansion and, if it does, the local council would allow the expansion. Many councils have regulations relating to the amount of car parking spaces for a business and how much land can be used for physical buildings.

Because of this, actually expanding a warehouse may not be possible, but there’s a lot that can be done with the existing warehouse space that can allow it to store more.

How Much Space Does Your Warehouse Actually Have?

The simple answer to this question is just the total cubic metres of your warehouse, but that’s not 100% correct. Even the most optimised warehouse will have space not used for storage; this space is for people and materials handling equipment to operate.

To determine your warehouse utilisation, you need to think in total cube utilisation. This is the total volume of available storage in your warehouse divided by the total volume of your warehouse. Keep in mind that this is the volume of the warehouse and includes the vertical height as well. After all, this is potential storage area.

So, for example, if you have a warehouse with 40,000 cubic metres of volume and you have 10,000 cubic metres of pallet racking, your storage cube utilisation is 25%. And 25% is considered about optimal. Although this number means that 75% of your warehouse’s volume is “unused,” consider that there needs to be space between aisles for access, places for materials handling equipment to go, space for packing of goods, and more. Generally speaking, 22%-27% is considered good for utilisation.

So what does this mean for expanding or relocating a warehouse? Before you consider any of it, see if you’ve maximised the storage space in the warehouse itself. You may find there’s actually space to store more goods.

Consider The Warehouse Layout

If the numbers say your warehouse should have more storage but it looks like more pallet racking or shelving simply won’t fit into the face, this may mean that the layout of the warehouse isn’t optimal. With a properly laid out warehouse, it’s possible to fit in more pallet racking or other storage.

Perhaps the pallet racking needs to be rearranged to accommodate more. Maybe, with the right type of racking, more vertical space can be utilised. If workers need easy access to all levels of shelving, maybe a mezzanine level will allow more use of your warehouse’s vertical space while still allowing easy access to everything.

Basically speaking, it’s easy to say “this warehouse is full” without actually considering the layout and whether it can be optimised.

Re-evaluate The Type Of Pallet Racking Being Used

Too often businesses use basic selective pallet racking for their storage needs. While selective pallet racking is a great solution for many warehousing needs, there are many other types of pallet racking designed to suit the needs of specific storage situations.

Double deep pallet racking, for example, can reduce the amount of aisles needed in a warehouse as it allows pallets to be stored two deep on racks. This is a great solution for businesses who have multiple pallets of the same item. A system like this can get even more dense with drive-in pallet racking or push back pallet racking. The exact type of pallet racking used, however, will depend on your business needs.

With that in mind, there are many more types of pallet racking available that take into account the amount of SKUs a business has, whether first in, first out or first in, last out storage is needed, stock rotation needs, and more. While selective pallet racking is often a good storage option, there may be better storage options that can not only increase the total storage capacity of a warehouse, but also make its operation more efficient.

It’s Not Always About Warehouse Space

Before considering relocating your warehouse or trying to expand on your existing one, consider what the real problem is and determine if there is anything that can be done with the existing space. Even if it’s determined that your current warehouse is operating at peak capacity, at least that’s known before embarking on a larger project.