Managing a warehouse is serious business. This is the reason for which warehouse management is a separate subject in business management schools. There are lots of aspects in warehouse management such as inventory management, loading and unloading, storage, safety, material handling and so on. However, the main point which drives every activity inside a warehouse is cost control.
It is essential to keep the operational costs of a warehouse at the bare minimum, which means that spending even a single dollar would directly affect the company's bottom line. The success of any warehouse greatly depends on the kind of warehouse equipment that is used. Here, it is important to keep in mind that buying the cheapest stuff is not the most economic way to manage the warehouse. The equipment in a warehouse can be divided into two broad categories storage and material handling.
Storage of items is one of the key aspects of warehouse management. There are several kinds of racking systems available in the market. There are double, single, adjustable and removable pallets shelving systems, all of which can be used for stocking different kinds of materials. Materials that are fast moving such as foot items, soaps and so on can be kept in simple fixed pallet systems.
Warehouse equipment in this category also contains moving carousels which are extremely useful while dealing with highly sensitive items in warehouses where your labor costs are very high. Typically, these are used for stocking cold storage items such as medicines.
With the press of a single button, the carousel can be moved level by level so that the workers can load or unload items with ease. These are extremely efficient, but are a little high on maintenance part. Simple racking systems can be used for other items which are not temperature sensitive.
Material handling equipment:
The most common warehouse equipment for material handling was the simple trolley that could have wheeled up to shelves and items could have been loaded or unloaded manually by workers. However, with the land and labor costs increasing each day, modern warehouse now has up to 12 warehouse racks. Workers operate forklifts to load and unload inventory. There are also conveyor belt apparatus available which are extremely useful for warehouses where items are kept in shelves for less than a day.
These days, there are also special forklifts which come with sets of tracks that can be used for fully automated warehouses. Here, there is no need for any human intervention. An advanced computerized system automatically picks up the goods from the warehouse entrance, reads the RFID or barcode on the boxes. The barcode contains all the information about what needs to be done with that particular box, and instructions are automatically given to the automated forklift, which then puts it in the appropriate position.
Similar activities happen for unloading boxes. These warehouses are quite expensive to set up, but the operational costs are practically nothing. You would end up recovering your investment in no time, with losses from theft completely eliminated.