Challenge: To design a distribution operation that would be resilient to as yet unknown operational changes but planned radical growth expectations.
Approach: It was critical to understand the stock cover implications for product sourced globally and the additional lead time requirements as a consequence, plus growth for the next 5 years and their effects on storage by product group. Volume flow analysis by activity was carried out for each of the 5 years across the market sectors. Each market sector had its own dynamics and therefore activity rates; indicating a non-linear expansion of equipment and personnel; even if the overall volume growth was linear. Layout configuration of the warehouse had to accommodate efficient picking and storage operations, whilst at the same time allowing ongoing expansion without the need for major disruptive reconfiguration during the live operation. This was accomplished by sensible zoning of the warehouse and appropriate use of second level picking. Storage options had to be flexible to enable the operation to be reactive to fast track changes.
Conclusion: A compact but efficient layout that satisfied picking and despatch operations for the expected planning horizon. Provision for future growth had to be an integral part of the initial layout to significantly reduce the need for wholesale reconfiguration during live operations.