Utilizing a warehouse is an exciting moment in any business’ life. But once it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of storage space, all the requirements and options can make a person’s head spin.
Figuring out how to house all that inventory often comes with a laundry list of questions. What’s the best way to store my products? How much space will I need? Do I need any special equipment? What about temperature and humidity? What starts out as “I need somewhere to store inventory and my garage isn’t cutting it anymore” can quickly morph into overwhelm.
For that reason, we put together this explanation of warehouse storage options. In this guide, you’ll learn what the different warehouse storage options are, when each one gets utilized, and which one is the best fit for your individual needs.
Bulk is often used to store large volumes of inventory, or oversized or awkwardly shaped items. Bulk storage is flexible and abundantly available in most warehouses. It’s also ideal for anything that’s tall or cumbersome, without pieces that move individually.
Products stored in bulk: large items like equipment, furniture, oversized rolls of paper, or giant orders of anything else that could be stacked high (diapers, canned goods, the list goes on).
Products that won’t work in bulk: anything that can’t be stacked (jewelry or perishable foods, for example), items that need to be picked individually, or products that move through a warehouse quickly.
Pallet racks will look familiar to anyone who’s ever set foot in a Costco. Racking systems resemble aisles full of shelves, but on a very large scale. They are most often used for items that can’t stack as high as bulk or that shouldn’t touch the floor. Racks can be useful in a few different contexts, but are especially well suited to fulfillment.
Products stored on pallet racks: SKUs that move at different rates, food grade items, e-commerce fulfillment products, or anything else that’s relatively small but can’t be stacked.
Products that won’t work on pallet racks: items that are more than five feet tall or are especially heavy.
Flow racks take up space equivalent to one pallet spot. As one case is emptied and removed, another one slides down to take its place. The main advantage of flow racks is speed and efficiency. Flow racks can be up to ten cases deep, and since they are automatically replaced, team members can pick and replenish items quickly.
Products stored on flow racks: Flow racks work best for smaller, quickly moving SKU mixes in which individual items get picked out – think: subscription box items or apparel.
Products that won’t work on flow racks: Slower moving items don’t make sense for flow racks – it’s also important not to mix items in this setting, for the sake of inventory control.
Bins can store just about any product. They range in size from as small as a shoebox, to mediumsized, to large, or extra-large. They can be mobile or static, stand alone or accompany a racking system. The only context that you likely won’t see a bin being used in is bulk storage. In case you couldn’t tell by now, one of the biggest perks of using bins is flexibility.
Products stored in bins: Just about anything! If it fits, it can be stored in a bin.
Products that won’t work in bins: Not much!
Shelves can be thought of almost as the inverse of bins. Bins are the actual containers that items are stored in, while shelves provide a spot where bins can be housed. Similar to bins, they can be static or mobile. Shelves are most often used for small, individually picked items that move in and out of a fulfillment center quickly. Since shelves don’t get picked up and carried, they work well for SKUs that are small or fragile.
Products stored on shelves: Watches, makeup, small electronics, or any other little e-commerce item that requires a little extra TLC.
Products that won’t work on shelves: Items that are large, or aren’t picked out individually.
Chemical logistics actually covers a myriad of commodities, from corrosives to food grade, with just as many different storage requirements.
When we talk about chemical logistics, most people assume we’re referring to acidic or explosive products. However, chemicals can also mean hand sanitizer, home cleaning products, makeup, or cake mix. Almost all of them have specifications around exposure to humidity, light, temperature fluctuations, or even other chemicals.
Depending on a specific product’s requirements, and whether it’s in a raw or finished state, chemicals might be stored in drums, super sacks, totes, boxes, or bags.
That was a lot of information, and odds are you probably still have a few questions. Such as:
What if my merchandise seems to be in between two storage categories listed here?
What if the product has some other really specific requirement?
I have no clue which type of storage fits my inventory best?
If so, we’re happy to help you out. We have experience storing everything from baking powder to robots. And we can help regardless of how oddly shaped it is, or how many specifications it has.
Whenever you’re ready, give us a call. We’ll have a few questions for you that will help us best figure out how to reliably store and ship your wares. From there, you can sit back, leave the logistics to us, and get back to your business.Connect with WSI
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