Warehouse Design Consultant

At Storage Solutions, we consider ourselves way more than a traditional warehouse design consultant; we pride ourselves on learning about the challenges you see, then providing solutions that make a real difference to your bottom line.

For the most part, warehouse design firms recommend changes that theoretically will work in your facility because those changes are likely based on suggestions that worked in another facility. However, we understand the difference between theoretical versus practical changes. Practical solutions should result from in-depth discussions and data, not a cookie-cutter approach.

Plus, we take an agnostic approach to which solution partners we work with on each project. We are not picking a particular solution because we need to hit a quota. Our goal is to allow you to grow your business and ease some operational pains along the way.

In contrast with a warehouse design consultant, our team has authentic operational experience in actual warehouse environments. We have not been living behind the computer, so to speak. We’ve solved various challenges across manufacturing, e-commerce, food-and-beverage, third-party logistics (3PL), distribution, and more industries. Our team has been in the field and understands the operational side of things. And we offer the flexibility that comes with having our project management teams on our planning discussions, so we are all on the same page in delivering on a specific goal.

Furthermore, as a project partner, Storage Solutions delivers on implementation and installation, complete with project management support that comes with project execution. When a warehouse design consultant hands a project off to an installer, things can get lost in the shuffle. Design intent can be missed. After all, the installers may just be looking at what is black-and-white on paper and may miss genuinely relevant information about “why” something was designed a particular way. So, instead of starting the conversation over again, we can have clear communication with the manufacturers and installers to guide a project through implementation.

When design intent is missed, and the practicality of a solution is secondary to a solution’s availability, problems occur after implementation. Design failures are often not noticed until after turning on the system, causing further change orders or requiring more labor to make up for the design impracticalities. Either way, you are adding costs to your project. Execution can be the trickiest part of implementing a solution, and through our simple, smart, strategic approach, we make that transition easy for our customers.

If you are looking into a warehouse design consultant for a new facility or to retrofit your current configuration, give us a call first. With a quick, 30-minute call, we can begin the conversation to uncover challenges and do some quick “napkin math” on establishing a ballpark return-on-investment (ROI) you can see from solutions offered by a true project partner.

Many warehouses and fulfillment centers are seeing similar challenges. Labor costs are rising. Fulfilling orders to meet delivery expectations is becoming more complex. The need to store more products in less space is a reality.

We offer an expansive portfolio of solutions that can solve the challenges that are unique to your operation. We have practical experience in implementing all these solutions. We want to provide solutions that work for you – both theoretically on paper and operationally for the long haul. Let’s get started today!

Handling Reverse Logistics and Returns

Did you know that in 2020, e-commerce represented over 16% of total global retail sales? The rise in online ordering, particularly in retail, has also brought an increase in returns.

Customers who purchase online are sacrificing the assurance that comes with purchasing in brick-and-mortar stores for the convenience of having that product delivered to their door. However, because they cannot touch the product before they buy it online – or try it on – returns are also on the rise. RetailWire estimates that returns for online purchases vary between 15 to 30 percent of total orders.

Traditionally, returns can cause headaches for fulfillment centers. Because fulfillment centers are focused on doing what they do best – fulfilling orders – returns can become an afterthought. In areas with labor shortages, they can affect labor costs within a facility and even affect service labor agreements because your staff, previously dedicated to fulfilling orders, now must handle this influx of returned products into your facility.

However, handling returns is not about just getting the product back into your facility. It is about getting it back into a forward pick location in an efficient way. In the meantime, what are you doing with the product? Is it going into reserve? Does it just sit in an area until the product needs replenishing? Often, there is no efficient way to handle them, and the cost is not often passed along to the consumer, making operations less profitable.

Large and midsize fulfillment centers often turn to third-party logistics firms to handle them on their behalf, a sometimes-costly decision. However, even companies who hired 3PL firms see those firms hire specialty firms to come in and handle returns. At what point does it make sense for you to save some costs and bring the operation in-house?

Here are three key factors when it comes down to evaluating whether to take on the challenge of reverse logistics:

  • Do you have the dedicated space? Your traditional receiving area is likely set up to accept full pallet shipments of your store’s products. However, by nature, these returns will be smaller because they are single item-versions of the pallet’s products. The size of the space you need will depend mainly on the size of the product, the volume of the product sold, the size of your facility, and the return rate of products stored.
  • Can you allocate additional labor? By handling returns in-house, fulfillment centers will need to recognize that additional labor will need to be dedicated to accommodating putting the products back into available storage. That variable will likely be significantly affected by how well your processes are designed to get this material back into a pickable location after it is received back in your facility.
  • Do you have the appropriate software? Some outdated or low-level warehouse management systems (WMS) may not have the functionality to accommodate returns, or at least they might not make it easy on your system. An integrated WMS with a scanning function that automatically puts the product back in the system must at least let your team know the returned product is back in the system, if not where it is within your facility.

Several other variables could affect this decision that will depend on your industry, facility, and order frequency. Ultimately, you will need to formulate a well-defined strategy behind this decision. The goal should be to have a closed-loop supply chain with little-to-low waste.

If you need some assistance in looking at your operations and determining whether this is a correct decision, we are here to help. We can evaluate your processes, people, and products and help you determine the equipment and workflows you would require taking on the reverse logistics challenge.

We can connect you with the appropriate equipment – from conveyor and sortation to pack stations or automatic bagging systems – and set your team up for success in this endeavor. Give us a call today!

delivery-expectations

Some people call the “Amazon Effect” a disruption. Some people recognize it as an evolution of the retail market. While both may be true, one thing we all can agree on is how consumers are changing their expectations on delivery – both in terms of timing and specificity.

However, the “Amazon Effect” is not changing the retail industry alone. Shipping, wholesalers, warehouses, and other sectors that branch off the retail industry are all undergoing seismic changes in how to meet customers’ new levels of expediency. Essentially, there is an expectation that consumers are buying online. When they buy online, they want their product as soon as possible. In order to meet these new expectations, every point on the delivery supply chain needs to adjust accordingly. According to Forbes’ Insights Team:

Customer demands for ever more rapid fulfillment are forcing businesses of all kinds to warehouse their goods ever closer to intermediate and end-customers… Getting goods to consumers faster means “seven, eight or nine touches moving the freight to a network of warehouses and forward positions.” In short, says the executive, “that final mile is being redefined almost every day.”

When change is happening as quickly as it is, decision-makers who are “forward-thinking” are getting ahead of the curve.

Being “forward-thinking” means evaluating all aspects of your operations to maximize efficiencies — either by reducing inefficiencies or by introducing new technologies to meet your customers where demand is shifting. In a sense, you know there are changes in your clients’ expectations coming if they have not already changed.

What Are Your Options?

  1. You can be proactive and adjust your operations now. Get ahead of your clients and provide a seamless experience in catering to their needs.
  2. You can be reactive and wait until your clients require you to change. Run the risk of your clients having a disruption of service when their needs change.
  3. You can never adjust to changes in your industry. Good luck with that.

When you are ready to explore your options to adjust to changes in delivery expectations, we are here to help. Storage Solutions has decades of combined experience in working with our clients and partners to optimize – not just for today’s needs, but for tomorrow’s growth as well.

Driver Cages Building Access Cages

While safety is always on the minds of warehouse managers, crises can trigger an evaluation of your practices. Who can access your facility? How easy is it to get in and out? How are you controlling your visitor access?

The COVID-19 crisis sweeping the world is causing much re-evaluation of safety protocols within warehouses. Our Storage Solutions experts have been recommending the installation of building access and driver cages at the entry points of warehouses across the country because they are a simple, smart, and strategic way to control access to facilities, creating an additional level of security to prevent unnecessary contact and the potential introduction of unwanted pathogens into a building.

driver-cagesBuilding Access Cages Are Adaptable

While these cages are customizable to suit your needs – they can be ordered in any size and can even be constructed as free-standing entities – typical cages offer the security of restricting full access to your facility while still allowing some level of visitor interaction through service windows. The service windows are ideal for exchanging small package deliveries and paperwork.

Give Your Team Control Over Who Can Access Your Facilities

building-access-cagesStandard cages are equipped with a push bar on the warehouse side of the enclosure to allow for visitor access when required. There are also coded push-button locks, and remote control latches available as well. This way, you can allow truck drivers or other visitors into your facility if they need to. If they don’t need to be in there, they are restricted to a defined area. There are also accessories available, such as benches, that you can install to keep your visitors comfortable until they are addressed, and cage ceilings if additional security is required.

Increase Safety After the Pandemic

wirecrafters-cagesAlthough managers are currently concerned about “flattening the curve” and containing the virus, these cages have untold benefits for as long as your warehouse is operating. Warehouse visitors are often not aware of how busy operations can be, how loud they can be, and how easily they can be introducing themselves into safety hazards. Fork truck traffic and automated machinery rely on clear paths and can cause immense harm if accidents occur.

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Think About Safety

By installing building access and driver cages, you are not only protecting your team and everything within the warehouse; you are protecting visitors from disrupting your business and potentially causing themselves harm.

Let’s face it: every facility can be safer. A time like this makes a perfect opportunity to make a minimal investment with a sizeable impact.

We work with the experts at WireCrafters to ensure that our partners’ warehouses are outfitted with exceptional quality solutions. Contact one of our Storage Solutions experts to learn more about these cages and take a natural step to make your facility safe and secure.

Delivery Expectation Changes

Some call the “Amazon Effect” a disruption. Some recognize it as an evolution of the retail market. While both may be true, one thing we all can agree on is how consumers are changing their expectations on delivery – both in terms of timing and specificity.

However, the “Amazon Effect” is not changing the retail industry alone. Shipping, wholesalers, warehouses, and other sectors that branch off the retail industry are all undergoing seismic changes in how to meet customers’ new levels of expediency. Essentially, consumer behavior & service expectations are proliferating through the business world as well. When people buy, they want their product as soon as possible. In order to meet these new delivery expectations, every point on the supply chain needs to adjust accordingly.

According to Forbes’ Insights Team:

Customer demands for ever more rapid fulfillment are forcing businesses of all kinds to warehouse their goods ever closer to intermediate and end-customers… Getting goods to consumers faster means “seven, eight or nine touches moving the freight to a network of warehouses and forward positions.” In short, says the executive, “that final mile is being redefined almost every day.”

When change is happening as quickly as it is, decision-makers who are “forward-thinking” are getting ahead of the curve.

Being “forward-thinking” means evaluating all aspects of your operations to maximize efficiencies — either by reducing inefficiencies or by introducing new technologies to meet your customers where demand is shifting. In a sense, you know changes in your clients’ expectations are coming if you have not already experienced them.

What Are Your Options?

  1. You could be proactive and adjust your operations now. Get ahead of your clients and provide a seamless experience in catering to their needs.
  2. You could be reactive and wait until your clients require you to change. Run the risk of your clients having a disruption of service when their needs change.
  3. You could never adjust to changes in your industry. Good luck with that.

When you are ready to explore your options to adjust to changes in delivery expectations, we are here to help. Storage Solutions has decades of combined experience in working with our clients and partners to optimize – not just for today’s needs, but for tomorrow’s growth as well.

essential solutions storage needs

As the COVID-19 crisis continues its lifecycle, businesses deemed non-essential are closing down across the country. Because our company serves many necessary logistics, construction, and supply chain industries, Storage Solutions is continuing to operate unless circumstances change. We were early to establish a COVID-19 Task Force and shift to a remote workplace, wherever applicable.

We also know that we are not alone in our essential role in our economy. Companies in the material handling industry are working safely to ensure deadlines are being met, and progress continues as well as it can, given the circumstances. We are seeing many businesses responding to a change in demand. Now more than ever, companies are seeing the need for flexible, dynamic operations and are adjusting how they work to meet those challenges head-on.

Our experts are always ready to learn about how the challenges are causing pain in operations. As our company is continuing to evolve, we have the expertise in providing essential solutions and so much more.

Let us know what we can do to help. Below are a few ways we are supporting companies who are running to the best of their ability to meet changing patterns in demand at a rate they may never have before.

We Are Buying and Selling Used Warehouse Equipment

We are here to help make sure your business and storage space has what it needs to operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Sometimes that means having an affordable solution. We hunt for the best-used equipment and thoroughly inspect every piece to ensure it’s 100% safe and ready to use.

If you are getting rid of your equipment, reconfiguring your warehouse to meet new demands, or relocating your operations, we are also here to help you solve the issues that naturally arise. Whether it’s tools, lighting, logistics, or anything else the job requires, Storage Solutions’ experience and integrated services approach creates truly effortless teardowns that don’t need your constant attention.

Plan Projects with Turnkey Solutions

Because we take an integrated supply and service approach, we can manage projects of any scale to meet your timeline and budget. Need to get permits signed off? We can do that. Need an installation schedule developed? That’s our bread and butter. Need to handle logistics? Why rely on another vendor when we can do that in-house. Our Project Managers assume the unexpected and work with you closely to give you a single point of contact and peace of mind with better command and more control.

Determining the Right Course with Design and Dynamic Solutions

We know that the best solutions start with the best designs (link to blog), and we are ready and capable to get started in providing Design Solutions to develop the optimal storage layout and pick process custom developed for your operation. We can address issues like SKU proliferation, the impact of e-commerce, anticipated changes in demand, and factor in costs associated with labor. We want to give you a flexible and scalable solution based on data and expertise.

We can also talk about how adding dynamic solutions like automation to your operation no make it more technology-driven, no matter what level of automation currently exists (if at all). Many companies are looking for creative ways to stay competitive in an ever-changing economy, and one of the most cost-effective forms of changing the way your warehouse works is to introduce these solutions.

Let’s Talk About Essential Solutions!

Whatever your needs may be during this time, we are here for you. We are interested in learning about the challenges you may face. Whether those challenges arose before, during, or after the crisis, we are ready. Give us a call at 800-474-2001, and our experts would love to connect.

We are here to serve you with the essential solutions that are necessary to keep your business optimally running. And, we are here to do so in the highest degree.

strategize-with-right-design

As increases in customer service demands continue to change the distribution & fulfillment industry, a growing number of warehouse managers face the challenge of configuring their layout and process for an optimal, efficient workflow. Whether your organization is clearing space for new equipment, relocating, or installing new equipment to meet the needs of a changing economy, maximizing throughput is the key to optimizing your future operating strategy. When you are considering your options for your new layout, know that optimal systems start with the right design.

Find The Right Design for Your Business’ Operating Strategy

Our expert team of design professionals works with clients on analyzing the challenges they currently face. Fulfillment issues can arise from problems caused by scattered SKUs to a lack of flexibility in your system to account for small or rush orders, among other inefficiencies.  However, Storage Solutions has the experience and knowledge to find these pain points and turn them into strengths. We find solutions to address your current challenges.

Our expertise in design revolves around using data to maximize your space while keeping costs down. We also look to your future and can build in such a way to provide flexibility to account for future growth in the dynamic world of the supply chain.

Continuing Support for Your Project

We don’t just stop at the design aspect, either. We work with firms throughout the life of their projects with our CARES (Collect, Analyze, Recommend, Execute, Support) system. This process ensures quality and care from the initial design phase until after installation and training are completed.

It is important to us that your new system works for optimal performance. With over 40 years in the industry, our team knows how to set up a system for success.

Let Us Solve Your Challenges

Our support team knows the challenges that come with growing businesses. Instead of holistically evaluating your workflow with each new process or project, perhaps a process gets tacked on to your current set-up, and maybe those challenges get solved with a “band-aid,” so to speak.

When you are ready for that full workflow assessment and evaluation, call us. We know that the best systems start with the right design. We are ready to get started. Click here or start a chat below and one of our experts will work with you in assessing your needs for warehouse workflow improvement.

slowdown-growth-potential

Whether it comes as a result of an impossible-to-predict natural disaster or a regular component of a business cycle, a slowdown is going to happen every so often. Few industries are not susceptible.

Slowdowns do not necessarily mean that the business has stopped. In the current situation that affects the entire world, we are still operating at full steam. However, we are subject to regulations and restrictions that affect different cities, states, and regions throughout the country, and we adhere to the authorities there. While some projects are on pause or slowed because of external forces beyond our control, others are continuing per usual.

For those experiencing slowdowns due to external forces, there is a silver lining. During times like these, business owners and distribution center managers can take advantage of these rare slowdowns by taking a proactive approach to evaluating their operations.

What Works for Your Business? Let’s Do More.

The most natural place to start in evaluating your business is to look at what is successful. You have spent the time, resources, and investment in people and processes that led you down a path to success. After all, you have been in business for a reason. However, now is a great time to see what you can do about throwing more gas on that fire.

Are there new hires you can make in an area of your business? Can you bring someone’s problem-solving ability or mindset from one area of the company to another? For example, are there lessons you can apply from a recent win in one area of the business to another? Take a look at your past few years of reports, examine the peaks, and evaluate what it took to achieve those results. Then, do more.

What Isn’t Working for You? Can You Stop Doing Those Things?

It can seem simplistic to say, “We should stop doing the things that aren’t working for us.” However, you will rarely find a more productive time to investigate all of the areas of your business. What are those processes, partnerships, or procedures that can be removed or replaced?

Taking an accurate evaluation of your business also means you need to recognize what doesn’t work for you. It can be a difficult task because an honest assessment requires decision-makers to be humble and own up to actions that are not working the way they initially were intended. It forces action on shortcomings. However, turning those negative habits into positive ones allow your business to avoid any lags when the slowdowns stop, and your business is ready to speed up.

What Are Successful Programs You Can Adopt?

Slowdowns are also a great time to look at processes that competitors or partners have adopted recently. Would a new approach benefit your business? Would now be a good time to look at implementing something new that has worked elsewhere?

This step bears the fruit from building out your network. Is there someone you talked to at a recent conference or whom you interacted with on LinkedIn that may have some insight into something new for your business?

There’s never been a better time to stop, listen, and think about what others are doing and saying about successes in their business. How can you benefit from the lessons they’ve already learned?

It’s Time to Make the Lemonade.

Slow times can cause stress, headaches, and hardships. However, proactive businesses can stem the tide by taking the additional time afforded to them by evaluating their processes. When it is time to put the pedal to the metal, these decisions can pay off in real ways because you’ve done the leg work to put yourself in the best situation to succeed.

If you are looking for a place to start, we would love to help. Our teams are working safely and remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, and we are here to learn about the challenges you face. We are here to provide you with solutions for every square foot!

design-solutions-sku-proliferation

There are few industries that are not affected by SKU proliferation. Within industries ranging from consumer goods to life science, there are a number of supply chain complexities that come with an increase in SKUs. Typically, SKU proliferation results after a company acquisition or a new product launch. Alternatively, SKU proliferation may occur as a result of adding new varieties of current offerings or changes in seasonal demand.

SKU proliferation can cause headaches for warehouse managers who now need to anticipate new order frequencies and volumes. To combat SKU proliferation, should you completely reorganize your warehouse? Should you make minor adjustments and re-evaluate later? Where and when should you begin?

You Always Start From the Start.

The best way to battle SKU proliferation – and the inefficiencies caused by not optimizing your setup – is to start with the right design solution. The right design solution will match your storage capacity with your inventory profile, taking into account the dynamics of the optimal pick process.

By beginning with a Facility and Storage Assessment, you set yourself up for success by engineering a game plan before any action takes place. Also, we take into account other variables that can affect the optimal performance of a warehouse. Typically, we talk to clients about trends they see with smaller shipping packages, changes in service expectations, and other external factors that can reshape a distribution network. 

What Else Should You Factor In?

Also, this is a great time to introduce Smart Slotting to our clients. Smart Slotting uses factors such as labor costs, space costs, replenishment costs, and equipment costs to provide you with the most efficient inventory slotting plan. All operational costs are taken into account to define the lowest possible throughput cost per item for your facility. This

We have found that examining all variables at this stage leads to a more efficient warehouse. Ultimately, the right answer comes from taking a step back and taking a look at “the forest, not the trees.” At this point, warehouse managers need to ask themselves: Is now the right time to introduce automation? Do you need to increase dense storage? Are you running out of shelving space?

Ask the Experts.

Storage Solutions experts are here to answer these questions. We have the knowledge and experience to tailor the right solution to suit your needs. Especially if your warehouse does not have an industrial engineer on staff (and not many do), the correct answer may not occur naturally. However, the right answer will likely come from an expert who knows the ins and outs of facility redesign. It comes from making changes based on where demand from your customers is shifting. 

More often than not, we hear clients say, “I am running out of storage space.” Our answer is typically, “Are you? How well are you using the space you have?” 

The answer is not always rocket science. However, the right solution usually is simple, smart, and strategic. That is what we are here to do: Connect you with that solution. Contact us today to get started! 

reduce-labor-disruptions-with-tech

By nature, warehouse operation managers are skilled problem solvers. The best of these managers can quell many disruptions with quick, efficient on-their-feet decisions. Planning plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth operation. However, there will always be plenty of unforeseen hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to labor disruptions.

No operation runs at 100% efficiency, without disruption. Even the best managers are going to come across underperformance from their teams. They will also need to overcome outdated design and other challenges that may come with traditional labor. Reducing these inefficiencies allow managers to make fewer, more thoughtful decisions by nature because they won’t be distracted by preventable disruptions.

If you are among those experiencing these issues, know that there are many flexible, cost-effective technology solutions available.

Technology Solutions for Your Operations

  1. Integrate Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). AMRs work in collaboration with human labor to achieve optimal production efficiency without the need for costly facility renovations. As a Certified Fetch Solutions Provider, we can work with you to design workflows that can be easily adjusted thanks to their cloud-based software, FetchCore. Thanks to their built-in sensors, these robots can also dynamically follow a map, allowing for an optimal travel route.
  2. Begin Smart Slotting Your Inventory. Smart Slotting is a warehouse slotting optimization tool that factors in operational, space, replenishment, equipment costs, storage mediums, and more variables to define the lowest-cost operational plan for your facility. With Smart Slotting, we can take the guesswork out of facility layout by calculating the impact that potential changes will make before implementing them.
  3. Install Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions. Because they use the same hardware and software, warehouses can utilize both Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions to automate various fulfillment processes. The main goal of both systems is to give you the ability to pack and ship more orders in less time while reducing errors.
  4. Implement Warehouse Execution Systems. A Warehouse Execution System (WES) is a software solution that directs all processes that occur in a distribution center. This system will prioritize work in a way to optimize fulfillment while keeping your facility streamlined. These systems are ideal for operations with less-robust WMS or ERP support. Also, these systems may let you introduce zone or batch-picking to your pick process. This benefit is not possible through some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

Whatever the level of consistency you have in labor costs, it can increase with the implementation of technology solutions. Contact us today and let’s talk about what might be right for your operation.