When it comes to building a new warehouse or distribution center for your order fulfillment or materials handling operation, there are a number of factors that must be considered. Location (where in the country you should build your new facility) is one of the factors that get the most attention.
But settling on location before settling on how big your new facility needs to be is a little like putting the cart before the horse: It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Because the size of your warehouse or DC will inform countless parts of your design build strategy (including the types of technology you ultimately use, how much inventory you can realistically have on hand, the cost of land, etc.) it should realistically be one of the first things that you settle once you have decided to move ahead with a design build.
It is essential to make sure that you’re building the new facility to the appropriate size: Building too large can be a waste of capital that could potentially be put to better use; too small, and you risk quickly outgrowing the facility, prompting a costly redesign or expansion just a few years down the road.
Below, we offer some guidelines for how operations can appropriately choose a size for their next warehouse or DC.
How big is your current facility?
When you are determining the size of your new facility, it makes sense to use the size of your current facility as a starting point for the discussion. How much space do you currently have? Are you putting that space to use efficiently, or do you think there are optimizations that could be put in place to make better use of the space? Do you believe that your current facility has too much space, too little space, or just enough?
By understanding the successes or limitations of your current facility, you can extrapolate (roughly) whether your new facility should be of similar or different size. If you are constantly running out of space in your current facility, and your new facility will encounter similar throughputs and demand, then it makes sense to go larger; if you have a lot of wasted or empty space, it is possible that your new facility can be smaller and still be just as productive, saving you money in the form of taxes, property costs, utilities, etc.
It is important to keep in mind that this quick-and-dirty approach is not enough to settle on a final size—it should simply be used to ballpark the answer at the beginning of your discussions and planning.
How does product flow through your operation, and what processes are required for that?
In every operation, goods and product flow through a unique set of processes from the moment they arrive in the warehouse to when they are shipped as a part of an order to a customer. No operation handles its products in exactly the same way. But these processes will determine how a large portion of your new facility’s footprint is put to use (because it will determine which technologies such as conveyors and sorters are put in place) and for that reason, it is critical to understand flow before you settle on a layout or building size.
By firmly understanding your current flow of product, when designing your new facility it is possible that you can find more efficient ways of doing things that can reduce your total order cycle time and even the space that is required for your facility.
How much inventory so you typically have on hand at any given time? Is this inventory being stored efficiently?
This point is critical for obvious reasons. The amount of inventory that your operation must have on hand to stay in business will dictate how a large portion of your new facility’s space will be used.
Once you understand your current inventory needs, determine whether or not there are ways that you can make better use of the space that you have dedicated to inventory compared to what you are currently doing.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) paired with a rack-supported structure, for example, may offer substantial space savings. Another example might be implementing a system of drop-shipping larger items so that you do not need to keep them in long-term inventory, reducing the amount of inventory space necessary to keep your operation moving.
How much do you plan to grow?
Chances are good that you are opening a new warehouse or DC to accommodate an increase in demand: Your business is growing, and you need another facility to deliver what your customers want.
It is important to keep business growth in mind when building your new facility, because if you aren’t careful, you may find yourself quickly outgrowing the new space, leading you to a costly redesign, expansion, or to build another new facility.
If there are strong indications that growth will be rapid, it may be in your best interest to preemptively build out the capacity of your facility. If growth will be slower, it may make more sense to do so incrementally as the increased demand arises.
The Bottom Line
When building a new DC or warehouse, settling on the size of your new facility is one of the most crucial steps in the process, as it will inform much of what comes later (the systems and technologies you put in place; the plot of land that you purchase and build on, how large of a workforce you can hire, etc.).
The questions above can be used to help you determine what an appropriate size will be for your current needs and future growth but is not by any means a complete list of factors. The size of your new facility will ultimately be determined by these large notions as well as specifics, such as pallet size, aisle width, load-bearing capacity, and more.
The most common conveyor belt issues and how to prevent them
Like any type of machinery, conveyor belt systems will eventually experience issues from time to time. Regardless of how well-maintained conveyor belt parts are, it’s normal to face problems, especially given that conveyor belts are one of the most used pieces of equipment across many industries.
While some problems are bound to happen, there are ways to prevent common issues and extend the life of your conveyor belt parts. Below are some of the most common conveyor belt problems and ways to prevent them.
Material accidentally sliding, rolling, or spilling over is inevitable, especially for productions that move a lot of loose or heavy products. However, if your conveyor system is experiencing an increase in spillage incidents, it could be an issue with areas that are causing excess shaking or rattling.
To prevent material spillage, be sure to keep your conveyor system well-maintained. Clean the conveyor belt and parts regularly and consider installing impact beds.
Excessive material spillage is the most common cause of seized rollers, which can halt production altogether. To prevent this downtime, we recommend installing Luff’s patented High Moisture Seal & Anti-Lock Shield. This polymer disc sits inside the end cap and remains stationary as the roller rotates around it, allowing the roller to turn freely, even with material built up between the roller end and the conveyor idler.
In addition to Luff’s High Moisture Seal & Anti-Lock Shield, you can prevent seized rollers by carefully inspecting them on a regular basis. This should be part of your regular maintenance routine.
Material blockage can happen due to wear and tear on the conveyor belt, sharp edges, and weak points in the system. When blockages happen, they can cause the conveyor belt to simply stop moving.
To avoid this issue, again be sure to keep a well-maintained system. Inspect your conveyor belt for any holes, weak points, and sharp edges that could potentially cause a blockage and have them repaired as soon as possible. Another solution to prevent material blockage is to install guide rollers which help reduce the chance of severe belt damage from sharp edges.
Mistracked conveyor belt
Mistracking happens when the belt moves too far to one side, which can lead to material spillage, material blockage, and cause premature wear on other conveyor belt parts. A mistracked conveyor can throw off the entire system The best way to prevent a mistracked conveyor is to have inspections and adjustments done on a regular basis. If you notice small signs of misalignment such as uneven belt wear, address them immediately before they become bigger problems.
To sum it up, some of the most seemingly small issues can turn into bigger problems that can halt operations. These common issues can be prevented and solved with simple conveyor belt parts and accessories.
Plastic load carriers from the automotive specialist
A trouble-free internal material flow is one of the essential factors for efficient production of components for the automotive industry. Errors and faults in transport and storage systems result in time-consuming and costly interruptions. The Craemer Group, internationally established supplier to the automotive industry, is one of the leading manufacturers with large-scale production of automotive modules made of metal and large-volume load carriers made of plastic.
The automotive expertise of the Germany-based Craemer Group founded in 1912 has contributed to the development and production of injection-moulded load carriers made of sturdy plastic. Versatile plastic pallets and pallet boxes from Craemer reliably reduce downtime in the automotive and supplier industries.
Special plastic load carriers for customised applications
For more than 50 years Craemer has been developing and manufacturing durable pallets made of high-quality polyethylene (PE). Today, the extensive portfolio includes half pallets, Euro pallets and industrial pallets for a wide range of applications. One example from the company’s portfolio is the D1 plastic pallet with its 22-millimetre rim: It is specially designed for the automotive and supplier industry and ensures high load security when used with small load carriers (SLC) and clear packaging (blisters). Unlike wooden pallets, box elements can be transported precisely and safely, without strapping and fastening, thanks to the edge system.
Thanks to their 22-millimetre outer rims, the CS plastic pallets in Euro format and industrial sizes are also ideally suited for use with SLC. The ESD (electrostatic discharge) variants of the CS pallets are made of conductive material and protect sensitive components from uncontrolled electrostatic discharge. The CS pallet is optionally available with Palgrip® anti-slip runners.
The CR plastic pallets are ideal for heavy loads. They permit versatile solutions thanks to a load capacity of up to 1750 kilograms and an anti-slip coating on the deck which makes them ideal for high rack warehouses. On the other hand, Craemer H and TC pallets offer optimum hygiene conditions for sensitive processes. The H model is also available in a conductive version. The pallet portfolio for the automotive and supplier industry is complemented by the lightweight SL pallet in Euro format with an overall height of only 120 millimetres.
Safe transport and easier handling of commodities
For the automotive industry, particularly impact-resistant and splinter-proof pallet lids are an ideal complement to Craemer plastic pallets. They are available in Euro format and industrial sizes and are suitable for all common returnable containers (such as SLC). Thanks to their precise fit they close perfectly flush. Integrated strapping grooves and locks on the short sides of the lid optimise the load security of sensitive commodities. As conductive ESD variants, they also reliably protect electrostatically sensitive components from uncontrolled discharges.
Other products of the Craemer automotive range: CB pallet boxes. Thanks to the one-piece injection-moulded production and their sturdy construction, these large load carriers made from PE convince with their high resistance and long service life. They are available in Euro format and industrial sizes. In addition, they are UN-certified and thus approved for the transport and storage of hazardous goods. Precisely fitting lids are available as additional accessories. With its complete portfolio of load carriers and accessories, the Craemer Group supports safe transport and storage processes in the automotive industry.
Mondi partners with Heiber + Schröder to launch the new high-performance machine eComPack for automated packaging of its EnvelopeMailer for eCommerce
Heiber + Schröder’s mechanical engineering combined with Mondi’s packaging and paper expertise enables eCommerce companies to automate the erecting, filling and closing packaging process using the EnvelopeMailer solution he state-of-the-art eComPack doubles output per hour, responding to demand for the automation of paper-based packaging solutions in eCommerce operations
The state-of-the-art eComPack doubles output per hour, responding to demand for the automation of paper-based packaging solutions in eCommerce operations
The new machine perfectly complements Mondi’s universal and fully recyclable corrugated EnvelopeMailer for maximum performance
Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper, has worked on an innovative collaboration with German machine producer Heiber + Schröder to create a high-speed automated packaging machine that meets the process, efficiency and safety requirements of eCommerce fulfilment operations. The new eComPack machine is designed for mid to large size eCommerce operations seeking efficiency and reliability. It can process up to 500 parcels per hour thanks to an automated erecting, filling and closing process.
The technological expertise of paper and board packaging automation expert Heiber + Schröder forms a perfect synergy with Mondi’s innovative packaging solutions. The resulting high-output eComPack can automatically process a wide scope of goods using one height-adaptable packaging design that is available in different sizes. The equipment stands out for its compact floor space requirement and simplicity in operation and maintenance.
In the rapidly growing world of eCommerce, the combination of an excellent paper-based product and an efficient and economic automated packaging machine is a key differentiator for our customers. The successful introduction of Mondi’s EnvelopeMailer solution increased manual packaging output by 8% compared to standard C-folder packaging. With eComPack, we are now enabling our customers to double their output and optimise packing operations in fulfilment centres handling high volumes,
Tarik Aniba, Sales & Marketing Director, Mondi Corrugated Solutions
The eCommerce market has grown significantly in recent years, accounting for approximately 20% of global retail sales in 2021¹. This means a wider variety of goods is being distributed, which increases packing complexity and requires versatile packaging solutions of different sizes and shapes. At the same time, with the rising cost of labour, the desire for packing machines in eCommerce is more prominent than ever before. To help customers tackle these challenges, eComPack provides a solution dedicated to the automated packaging of Mondi’s corrugated eCommerce solution EnvelopeMailer.
Made to safely fit single or multiple items and rectangular as well as irregular shapes up to 7 cm in height, the EnvelopeMailer’s flexibility in the fulfilment process, efficiency in handling, and economical use of material and space have made it an all-around new standard in the market since its launch in 2020.
André Garmer, Managing Director Heiber + Schröder, adds: “Together with Mondi we developed the machine in a very dynamic co-creation process. The result is a robust, user-friendly machine with top-class usability. Through clever and responsible creation, we were able to synchronise packaging design and machine functionality into a solution that offers tremendous potential if combined with the right packaging solution.”
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