It seems that most architects and other space planning professionals can produce estimates for office space rather quickly. When it comes to the warehouse space, most do not feel comfortable making recommendations or calculations. On top of that, a number of clients do not have the ability or experience to know how to determine the proper amount of warehouse space that they need. This is understandable as most do not have experience in this area.
Here are the steps that we use with our clients whether they are moving, adding on, or just want to better utilize the space that they have.
The first step is to find out how the client uses their space. Manufacturing space can be pretty straightforward as most clients know how much they need for machinery and production space. When it comes to storage and warehousing, clients will and should state how many units, usually pallets, they need to accommodate. Surprisingly enough, they may not actually know what this figure is. Sometimes, they want to focus on a square footage number that may or may not be accurate. We will stop them and try to drill down to some hard numbers that we can use to analyze their needs. Again, in a high number of cases it is pallet positions, pick faces, or SKU’s (stock-keeping units). Once the baseline is established at their current space, we can also find out what their goals are for their new space. They may be downsizing, planning for growth, taking on a new product line, etc. Again, we will quantify this need in some fashion.
The last step of the initial information gathering is observing how their operation works and the types of material handling equipment they are using or plan to use. In other words, if it is a typical warehouse, we are going to find out what aisle widths work best with their forklifts. In some cases, we find out that clients may be wasting valuable space on aisles that are much too wide or with a simple upgrade to their forklift fleet can gain significant amounts of storage space.
Up next, read parts 2 and 3 in our warehouse planning series:
- Part 2: Layout and Property Searching
- Part 3: Keys To Planning, Locating, and Moving into a New Space