With the growth of technology, the development of a warehouse specification is no longer the simple task it once was.
Readily accessible sources of information are would-be suppliers, manufacturers of forklift trucks, cranes, racking, doors, loading docks etc. While each of these will have full knowledge of his product and how it reacts with allied products, it is possible that the inter-relationships between equipment or functions and their role in future operations may not be recognised.
Culled from specific instances we offer the following small selection, showing some of the more obvious linkings, along with samples of the possible consequences of overlooking them. Each site will have its own peculiar inter-relationships that require a multi-disciplined, lateral thinking approach to ensure the operation is not compromised.
Logistics Simulation Ltd, in the course of assisting clients to develop their warehousing and distribution operations, has observed the following:
Apart from the more obvious considerations of the effects on local residents of skyline, noise and vehicle movements, the subsoil history may be important. A genuinely super-flat VNA floor is hard enough to achieve but consider the relative chances of it maintaining tolerance over many years on: a) A compacted landfill site. b) Ex-agricultural land, undisturbed for centuries.
The eaves height has an obvious affect on the choice of internal equipment. Frequently missed are the effects of the apex direction and the interval between columns. These can substantially affect the number of pallets that can be stored and also limit future expansion possibilities. It has been known for inter-column wind bracing to obstruct planned thoroughfares, adding significant travelling time to fork lift truck journeys. Also for column-mounted internal drain pipes to be left off copies of drawings used by the racking designers, resulting in disruption of a carefully planned rack layout, discovered during installation.
In all aspects, thought should be given to the resale value of the building and installation. In particular, the height, number of doors, insulation level and floor quality.
A decision to put loading doors each end of a long building to give a "natural" flow of goods could be disastrously wrong for your operation. Changing or adding doors at a later stage to meet customer or supplier vehicle specification is expensive. Has consideration been given to delivery, transfer and maintenance of the tallest piece of materials handling equipment that could be needed for the operation ?
The desire to achieve a crack-free floor, sometimes met by laying steel re-enforcement near the surface, could conflict with a need to use wire guided trucks or AGVs. A super smooth slab finish may mean that pallets skid, preventing a powered pallet truck from picking them up. Some floor paints cause a static electricity build-up on trucks, which can damage onboard electronics. The positioning of under-floor services and access covers can prejudice the positioning of racking and aisles.
An apparently rational decision to install high level radiant heating in an area could exclude the later installation of racking because the upper levels of product would get baked. There is a relationship between how lighting cable ducts are installed and choice of rack aisle direction.
The advantages of mezzanine floors in some situations cannot be denied. However, current fire regulations can increase the cost of large area mezzanines beyond economic viability. A lot of time may be saved by talking to the fire/insurance people early. As with major building columns, the frequency and positioning of mezzanine support columns should be considered at an early stage.
Sometimes the consequences of ‘obvious’ decisions can be expensive, inefficient or restrictive.