Distribution centres and warehouse managers all over the world are consistently faced by the challenge of seeking out the most efficient usage of space.

Whether you’re managing an existing warehouse or readying a new distribution centre, you’re required to provide a spacious, streamlined environment to increase productivity and reduce costs. On top of this, things like rapid business growth, seasonal peaks, discount buying, planned inventory builds, and even slow sales periods all add to the pain.

You’re required to not only use the space you have efficiently, but to also consider material handling times. Providing the most economical storage in relation to costs of equipment, use of space, damage to material, handling labour and operational safety is key to sorting out these issues. But it also needs to be flexible so you can meet changing storage and handling requirements. That’s a lot of things to consider!

So, what can you do to start saving warehouse storage space? Let’s go through the solutions.

Reassessing your inventory

Most people just try to increase their storage space, but you must always consider the movement of inventory first. How many products get sent out per month? Are you prematurely storing more packaging than you need? Businsesses often have an overwhelming amount of packaging supplies taking up space, making it difficult to locate inventory, reducing labour productivity and sometimes even resulting in a safety hazard.

‘On demand’ consumerism

However for some, warehouse space optimisation is less to do with actually freeing up spacethan with keeping up with the ‘on demand’ trend that has come to dominate the consumer landscape. With a huge range of choice of delivery for almost every kind of package, your customers expect to get what they want, when they want it. As a result of this, keeping the right stock levels for every product and its packaging is becoming increasingly important.

When buying packaging materials, many believe that it is necessary to place large orders. This perception usually stems from the minimum order numbers in place when ordering bespoke packaging direct from the manufacturer, as well as from the idea that larger orders lower per-unit costs.

However, it’s possible to order smaller volumes of both standard and bespoke items either for regular delivery, or even as they’re needed! The space savings that can be made when shifting to this model are huge– some Antalis Packaging customers have freed up entire floors.

Not only this, but being able to order smaller batches helps to cut down on waste too, because packaging materials won’t get damaged while in storage. Your packaging solutions provider should even be able to help by holding stock on your behalf.

Protective on-demand packaging

The need to store loads of bulky protective packaging such as bubble wrap and void-fill such as polystyrene chips has often caused large sections of warehouses to be given over to their storage. This is why more and more businesses are opting for solutions that lets them ‘form’ their own protective packaging on-site.

Replacing pre-formed bubble wrap causes massive reductions in storage costs. For example paper -based void fill systems – one A4-sized pack of paper is able to perform the same protective function as three large bags of polystyrene chips. Others are opting for the chemical-based systems that make it possible for protective foam cushioning to be made as and when it is needed. The chemical reaction safely encases the product in protective foam in as little as 40 seconds! 

 ‘One size fits all’ packaging

When it comes to packaging, loads of companies make the mistake of assuming every new product needs a different kind of packaging. Not only does this result in the need to store tens or even hundreds of different types of packaging, it also creates stock-management challenges, including a need to additional training for packing operatives.

Something like an automated void reduction system such as BoxSizer or the B+ machine makes it possible to reduce the range of cartons that need to be kept in stock, as well as reducing the need for void fill!

Every warehouse has specific issues that need to be addressed. As you can see, there are many different ways to do this. To find out more about how rationalising your company’s packaging solutions could optimise space, download the infographic below!