During the last week of 2016 construction wrapped up on our warehouse renovation. It took us a few weeks afterward to complete our rearrange and redesign, but now we’re finally operating at full capacity in the new space! The photo above is a look at the space that we’re currently using for packing and shipping orders. Our total space doubled from around 5,000 sq-ft to around 10,000 sq-ft.
For packing and shipping, we’re essentially using the same inventory zone system I detailed in 2010, with a handful of improvements.
Because we now ship with both FedEx and USPS we have two separate packing stations and two separate garage doors for pickups. Aisles are a bit wider and the products shelves now face each other, making it so that our aisles alternate between being picking aisles and stocking aisles (if that makes sense). This allows for multiple teams to operate in the same space without getting in each other’s way. In theory we could have a team doing USPS orders, a team doing FedEx orders, and a team stocking the shelves with product from incoming shipments.
We also put a lot of work into minimizing steps taken to pick a product. I built a report that gives us the frequency that someone has to pick a product (i.e. walk over to the shelf, meaning a qty of 1 and a qty of 5 on the same order both count as one time walking over to the shelf) as well as how often we pick products from any one brand or distributor. In addition, we calculated the number of steps to each shelving unit and created a “heat map” of the closest units. Armed with that information, we were able to strategically group products to minimize steps. Light products are closer to the USPS side, heaver ones to the FedEx side. Popular products are on the shelving units closest to the front and on the shelves that are easiest to reach (not at the top or bottom of a unit). Products are still grouped with their brand and distributor to make it easy to unload incoming shipments. It was both a science and an art, using a lot of industrial engineering mixed with common sense.
It’s this core design that we hope to grow from for the next several years, if not longer.
We’ve made a bunch of other additions and improvements as a part of this renovation, the big ones being:
- New offices for us. The contractors are coming back to install air conditioning before the summer.
- A conference room for meetings. We bought a large TV to use Chromecast for easy screen sharing.
- Ethernet jacks next to every outlet in the office and conference room
- A break room for our warehouse associates.
- Several windows for lots of natural light
- More parking, with parking spaces now marked.
- A doorbell system that rings different for each door.
It seems like construction started a lifetime ago, even though it was only last fall. We’re thrilled to be entering our busy season with this new facility! Our lack of space has slowed us down in the past but that won’t be the case in 2017.