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Thinking outside the warehouse: 6 tips for space optimisation

written by Norbert Padt
Published on:
Sustainable growthFuture logistics
Space design

Space optimisation in warehouses is a growing trend as businesses seek to improve their operations and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market. By implementing effective space utilization strategies, companies can reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve their bottom line. Read on to discover our six best practices for optimal space usage. 

1. Narrower aisles

One way to add racks and maximize space is to create narrower aisles. Traditional warehouse aisles are designed to accommodate regular forklifts, but narrow aisle forklifts are available. Around 244 to 305 cm wide, they allow for tighter aisle configurations.

2. Mezzanines

Mezzanines, partial floors that can be added to a warehouse, provide additional storage without taking up any extra ground space. They can be customized to meet your specific needs, allowing you to utilize space that would otherwise be unused. Mezzanines are ideal for office space or other activities that don’t require as much height.

We have 60,000 m² of mezzanines, at 3.3 m, 6.6 m, and 9.9 m high. We use them for slow-moving products, and our packaging and return machines.” 

Jan de Niet, Head of Facility at Wehkamp.

3. Building higher

Building vertically can also provide significant space savings. By building higher, you can increase your storage capacity without expanding your footprint. Of course, you’ll need to make sure your building is structurally sound and can support the weight of your stored items. Additionally, you must have equipment that can safely reach higher shelves.

In our high-bay warehouse, we have 16 storage levels, good for 80,000 pallet spaces.”

Willy Raemdonck, Site Manager at Barry Callebaut

4. Multi-storage

Multi-storage is another effective way to optimise warehouse space. It involves stacking smaller items on top of larger ones, using specialized shelving or pallets. By utilizing vertical space in this way, storage capacity increases without taking up additional floor space.

5. Automated storage

Automated storage and robotized retrieval systems retrieve items more quickly and accurately, reducing the need for forklifts and allowing for narrower aisles. Some robots don’t only operate the racks but climb them too. That means you don’t need elevators nor conveyors. The robot will just drive up to the picking station.

Robotization is going to continue, not because it is profitable, but because there is a lack of employees who are available 24/7.”

René de Koster, Professor of Logistics & Operations Management at Erasmus University, Rotterdam

6. Thinking outside the warehouse

Finally, more and more businesses are moving technical installations such as HVAC systems, electrical transformers, or water tanks to the roof or underground. Next to freeing up space, it helps reduce noise and improve air quality within the warehouse.

It’s not enough to just have a large building to store products and house staff. Effective space utilization, both in the warehouse and outside, can have a significant impact on your bottom line.”

Marc De Bosscher, CTO at WDP

Space optimisation in warehouses 

Need help making the most of your warehouse? Feel free to download our whitepaper or get in touch with our experts. 

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