Choosing the right warehouse for your storage needs is not easy. It can be an overwhelming and outright confusing undertaking.
You have to consider many important factors, such as location, access, and operations—to list a few. What’s more is that once you’ve committed to working with a warehousing service, you’re often left second-guessing yourself.
The purpose of this guide is to help you make a worry-free decision so that you can focus on growing your business. By the end of this text, you’ll be confident in selecting a warehouse that is right for your storage needs.
Table of Contents
Warehousing 101: Definition, Products, and Benefits
A warehouse serves as a central location that enables you to store, receive, and distribute products.
When selecting a warehouse storage solution, you’re typically accountable for arranging the shipment of your goods to the facility, although this step can also be managed by the company and depending on customer demands.
There’s much research that goes into warehousing efficiency with operations having become more and more sophisticated over the years.[efn_note]Aminoff, Anna, and Outi Kettunen. “Research on Factors Affecting Warehousing Efficiency.” International Journal of Logistics, vol. 5, no. 1, Apr. 2002, pp. 45-47, doi:10.1080/13675560110114252.[/efn_note] [efn_note]Fumi, Andrea, et al. “Minimizing Warehouse Space with a Dedicated Storage Policy.” International Journal of Engineering Business Management, vol. 5, Jan. 2013, doi:doi.org/10.5772/56756.[/efn_note] Today, there are many guidelines that help improve challenges regarding storage capacity, inventory management, and warehouse operations.
Warehouse managers are continuously working with logistics experts and optimization engineers to improve their warehouse storage systems and to help provide an ideal solution to customers.
What Products Are Good Candidates for Warehouse Storage?
Warehouses can take on new product depending on the amount of inventory that is being submitted. Whether large quantities can be accepted depends on the available space and the storage solutions that are being offered.
A warehouse management system can provide insights into available space and existing inventory levels. Good warehouse design allows for these metrics to be quickly accessed and then communicated with the customer.
When taking on new product, warehouse personnel must also consider that different products take up different amounts of space (floor space, vertical space) within the facility. Furthermore, some products require special handling (e.g., hazardous materials [efn_note]Benintendi, Renato, and Simon Round. “Design of a safe hazardous materials warehouse.” American Institute of Chemical Engineers.[/efn_note]) or special warehouse setting (e.g., cold storage vs. dry storage).
Products that are typically stored at warehouses without any special accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Sporting goods
- Health products
- Household linens
- Dry goods
If your product is not listed or you’re unsure about whether you can be accommodated, it’ll be worth your time to contact the facility directly. MacMillan Supply Chain Group has warehouse spaces across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and across Canada, and will work with you to find solutions to your warehousing challenges.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Warehouse Storage?
If you’re a business owner looking to move product into a warehouse storage to streamline your operations, you’ll reap two big benefits:
1. A Storage Warehouse Saves You Time
A storage warehouse is your best option if you are currently operating out of a facility where you’re handling everything yourself. From re-ordering inventory to packaging and fulfilling your orders: A warehouse can save you lots of time, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
2. It Leads to Rapid Growth
Once you have handed off the task of warehousing and distributing to a supply chain firm, you free up much time to scale your business, which typically leads to rapid growth.
How Warehouse Storage Facilities Are Designed
Those who are looking to have an educated and well-informed discussion with a supply chain firm often look into the design of a storage facility prior to initiating contact.
There are many different types of shelving and racking systems within a warehouse. Warehouse racking systems are storage solutions designed to stack materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels. Their primary purpose is to optimize space within the warehouse. When implemented correctly, they double or triple the inventory holding capacity without increasing the square footage.
Steel shelving racks with storage bins or pallets can improve inventory management and make it easier to find units for fast-growing businesses shifting away from chaotic garage storage. However, they are not the only storage devices used:
1. Traditional Shelving (Static/Mobile)
Traditional shelving can be either static or mobile. With static shelving referring to fixed aisles and mobile shelving referring to shelving that is moveable. Static shelving is frequently installed on a carriage and wheel arrangement while mobile shelving can allow for more storage density as needs change.
2. Carton Flow Racks
Carton flow racks are a racking system for storing products at the carton level (i.e., within reach by a person standing on the warehousing floor). These devices have a slight incline, which forces the carton boxes to slide toward the front of the rack when they are removed. This system is best suitable for first-in/first out (FIFO) operations, and are essential to process automation. [efn_note]van Geest, Maarten, and Bedir Tekinerdogan. “Smart Warehouses: Rationale, Challenges and Solution Directions.” Journal of Applied Sciences, vol. 12, no. 1, 2022, p. 219, doi:doi.org/10.3390/app12010219.[/efn_note]
3. Wire Dividers
Wire partitions are a type of fencing that keep products secure. Due to their structure and shape, they are frequently used to hold large or oddly shaped goods, and are avoided for fragile products (e.g., the wires may penetrate the product when it’s being handled.)
4. Cantilever Racks
Cantilever racking are a common type of storage system used to hold lengthy, oddly-shaped, or heavy products. Examples include rugs, metal pipes, furniture, or car components. Unlike any other rack system with a warehouse, cantilever racks offer no vertical obstructions in the storage area.
5. Pallet Racking Systems
Pallet racking systems are racks that hold and store pallets of goods, which are put into place through a forklift. They provide dense storage and can be a great way to reclaim vertical space in a building.
What Warehouse Storage Is Best For Your Needs?
When choosing a warehouse to meet your needs, you want to know whether the facility can accommodate your product. If you are looking to transfer your inventory of rugs to a warehouse, you want to ask whether the facility has any available cantilever rack space. Similarly, if you’re looking to ship large quantities, you want to verify that the warehouse can accommodate for pallets.
When you’re deciding whether you should opt into a warehouse storage, the decision usually comes down to time and cost. Effective and efficient storage systems can save you valuable time and money, and can often lead to the rapid growth of a business.
From cantilever racks to pallet racking systems, what type of warehouse storage and racking system suits your business best? If you’d like to speak with an expert about your needs, you can contact the MacMillan Supply Chain Group at 416-941-2759 or send us here.