Go Up Young Man

By Howard Klein
HKA and Company, Inc.

What is the most underutilized but congested area of your warehouse or distribution center?  Often, it is the receiving and shipping areas by the docks.

I’m not talking about big box DCs.  Those have usually been designed by professionals who know the value of sufficient space for staging inbound and outbound shipments. Rather, it is those with 50,000 to 100,000 square feet that you have occupied for many years and have no intention of moving from.

DC managers try to overcome potential congestion problems – receipts in the morning, shipments staged for afternoon pickup.  This often works, especially when things go smoothly. That is, receipts are efficiently checked and put away; shipments are picked up on-time.

But what happens when there are hiccups?  Murphy has a way of cropping up.  Then you scramble to find space to stage orders, often down aisles within the storage areas as near to the docks as possible.  This creates other problems, especially for pickers who need access to product in those racks.

With clear heights of 20 to 28 feet, there is lots of unused space above the staging areas.

There are several options available to address congestion problems.  These include end caps for the pallet racks (which can also serve as P & D stations), drive-in racks, flow through pallet racks and racking above the dock doors. These last ones can also be used to store such items as packaging and other items which don’t need continuous access, and free up valuable storage locations in the pallet racks.

At some point, I have used each of these to help alleviate congestion without inhibiting the efficient operation of the DC. If this situation sounds familiar, which I’m willing to bet it probably does to many of you, I’d be happy to discuss how we could assist you in creating additional space.

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About the Author:

Howard Klein has more than 35 years of management and design experience in distribution center and manufacturing floor installation and operations, including startups, re-engineering existing space and multi-site build-outs. Howard helps clients streamline their processes and reduce cycle times, design and install highly efficient work environments, turn around underperforming operations and teams, align operational goals with business strategies, and develop and install new warehouse management systems to improve logistics.
Mr. Klein received a Masters’ degree in industrial engineering from New York University, and a Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.


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