Managing a warehouse is like managing an orchestra. It is a complex and convoluted dance between performers, instruments, crescendos, hidden melodies — things coming in and coming out at the drop of a hat. It is a complex work engine, composed of equipment, people, products, and processing areas.
The more oiled and efficient it is, the faster and safer it turns out to be. That’s why it is critical to understand what equipment, and which tools, better complement the human element, our workers’ skills, and abilities. In this article, we’re going to discuss common warehouse equipment. Giving you the perfect warehouse equipment list to save money, time and effort.
What Affects Common Warehouse Equipment — How Do You Choose What To Buy?
The term “material handling equipment” is an umbrella concept. It encompasses just about everything that’s in a warehouse, from a diverse range of vehicles to tools, all the way to the hard-hats your employees might do. It’s not just about moving material from point A to point B but about doing it efficiently, easier and safer. In this article, we’ll focus on functionality, on equipment that cuts down on backbreaking labor, not on safety considerations.
What you buy and what you forgo, depends on your warehouse and the type of operation you’re running. It depends on your size, your scalability, the materials you are handling, and, more importantly, your human element — are your employees competent enough, or have they been trained in that specific type of equipment?
The need of your warehouse varies from the needs of your competitor’s warehouse. What might work for them doesn’t necessarily fit into your model. That’s why it is essential when making a warehouse equipment checklist to contact the right people, the right consultants. Yes, the goal might be the same as your peers — all operations and equipment must galvanize the flow of materials in, through, and out of your warehouse. BUT, your setup might be different.
When you’re deciding on a warehouse equipment list you’ll need to consider:
- Mapping out your space.
- Pick paths.
- Your volume.
- Your business model.
- Your products.
Here’s a top-tier tip from the experts: No ONE piece of equipment is essential. Everything has a workaround, and everything adapts to your needs and your budget.
AGV (Automated Guided Vehicles) are for lack of a better word, “robots.” Automatons that follow wires, paths, markers, and other indicators on the floor and perform a specific task. These are your drones and they are next-generation tools just now coming into their own within the warehouse ecosystem. They are normally used on large-scale industrial warehouses, due to their cost, to move material around.
Order Picking System
Accounting for more than 50% of your fulfillment center’s operation and up to 55% of your operation costs, an order picking system is a must-have when it comes to essential warehouse equipment. They are central to a thriving e-commerce and retail business success rate. From single order picking to multi-picking, you can’t run a decent warehouse without these tools. They streamline order fulfillment and give you a more accurate picking system.
Also called a lift truck, jitney, or fork truck, these powered industrial trucks have been used to move materials over a short distance since World War I. The modern forklift has become a staple in most warehouses — an iconic representation of common warehouse equipment. It’s important to understand that not all forklifts are the same: they are rated for loads and have unique centers of gravities ascribed to those specifications.
The two-wheeler, the dolly, the sack barrow — this 18th-century throwback is still very much in use today. They’ve been updated with sleeker materials, better handle types, cylindrical loads, and stair climbing wheels, but at their heart, they remain the same. They are affordable, essential, and iconic tools no warehouse would be caught dead without.
How you store your product is even more critical to the efficiency of your operation than how you transport them around. All of them will help you maximize your order flow and fulfillment. They are the number one affordable warehouse equipment you simply can’t skimp out on. It’s important to note when picking a system, the type of materials you’ll be storing in them, what type of software – for product handling – you’ll be using, how often you’ll need to move products, your space, and dozens of other variables.
The main purpose of a conveyor is to move objects from one specific location to another. Their different designs allow for efficient movements of products that are either too bulky, too many, or too heavy for humans to carry. They save up time and depending on the size of your operation, are essential storage equipment for your warehouse.
Warehouse racks have become, since WWII, ubiquitous elements of most modern warehouses, manufacturing facilities, retail centers, and most distribution facilities. There are a huge variety of racks, from standard horizontal rows to complex multilevel beasts. They increase your storage density, decrease the cost associated with transportation, and help you organize your goods more efficiently. It’s important when selecting a racking system – from selective pallet racks to drive-in pallets or pallet flow models – to understand your needs, your budget, your future objectives. Racks can help you scale up your operation and broaden your horizons as far as materials you can handle and transport.
Warehouse equipment list — how to get the most out of your investment?
When building a warehouse equipment checklist you should work towards an effective set-up that values 4 critical goals:
- Inventory control: knowing exactly where everything is located. This will help you anticipate labor needs, storage, transportation and measure your productivity.
- Safety: the right equipment, used properly, and handled with care will help you prevent injuries and workplace mishaps.
- Space: it’s a tightrope dance. Common warehouse equipment should help us not only get more space out of our environment but save time and money by shortening the distance. A common misconception, when maximizing your space is to spread out, particularly if you have the legroom. Resist that urge, concentrate efforts into manageable environments.
- Increased efficiency: limit the number of times a product is touched, transported and the distance it needs to travel.
At the core of all your decisions, regardless of the product, is how you want your operation to function. Each is different, each staff has a different culture and system — integrate your top workers into your process, let them have an input on what you’ll buy and what you’ll disregard.