7 Reasons to Work with a Warehouse Design Consultant When Upgrading Your Warehouse
Designing and building a new warehouse—or upgrading an existing facility—is a complicated process with a lot of steps. From discovery and analysis to design to the actual implementation of your systems, there are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of places where things can go wrong.
It’s no wonder, then, that many warehouse or distribution center (DC) managers choose to work with a warehouse design consultant or systems integrator offering warehouse design consulting services, for their design build projects: They bring with them years of experience getting complex projects off the ground and complete on schedule, on budget, and in a way that helps your business stay efficient and profitable.
Need an Expert Opinion?
If you’re thinking about working with a systems integrator or design consultant to build a new warehouse or upgrade an existing facility, you want to make sure that they’re worth the money. Below are some of the most important benefits that they bring to the table.
1. They will help you squeeze the most out of your existing footprint.
When your existing facility can no longer meet the needs of your operation, you’ve got a decision to make: Either invest in a brand new facility, or upgrade your existing facility to match your needs as best as possible.
Though building a new facility opens up a lot more doors in terms of the types of technologies, systems, and workflows that you can put in place, sometimes it is simply out of the question: The budget doesn’t allow for it, or your business is at a point where it is growing, but not yet at a size that justifies investing in a new facility. In those cases, you must make do with upgrading your existing facility.
One of the biggest limiting factors when it comes to upgrading an existing facility is the size of your footprint: You only have so much space to work with, so you have to make it count. This is where a systems integrator offering design consulting services can truly shine.
By using modeling software, they are able to determine the most effective inventory placement for your facility, and identify wasted space that could otherwise be put to use. Additionally, they can leverage certain technologies like automated retrieval and storage systems (ASRS) to take advantage of additional space that would otherwise be unusable. By squeezing the most out of your existing footprint, design consultants can boost your productivity and efficiency even if you can’t expand your physical space.
2. They have a mind towards safety.
When it comes to any design build project, it’s important that workplace safety stays top of mind: There are countless federal, state, local, and international safety regulations in place designed to ensure that employees are safe at work. While these regulations serve an important purpose—protecting employees—they can also complicate facility design by restricting the placement of certain technologies and systems within the workplace.
Though most warehouse managers will have at least a cursory understanding of certain state, federal, or industry regulations, it is almost impossible for the typical manager to be an expert in all safety regulations. Between OSHA, CEMA, RMI, design safety, and operational considerations, there is just too much information for one person to know, especially if they are not living in it day to day.
Warehouse design consultants and systems integrators live and breath safety standards and regulations every day. They are experts at making sure your facility are safe and up-to-code, and you gain access to that expertise by working with them.
3. They know which technologies you should leverage to reach your goals.
If you’ve been looking into upgrading your warehouse or DC with new systems and technologies, then you know many options are available to you. Between gap generation, sortation systems, ASRS, conveyors, and more, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of potential combinations of technology that can help you achieve your operational goals.
While this is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. How can you be sure that you are making the best use of your budget, that the technologies you choose to pursue are not redundant, and that they each bring value and boost efficiency?
Making sure that you choose the right technologies for your needs, your budget, and your goals is fully in the wheelhouse of design consultants and systems integrators: It’s what they do. They want your project to be successful, and that means making sure they select the most effective technology and systems.
4. Working with outside help frees up inhouse resources.
You might think that it makes sense to task your internal resources to design your new DC—after all, who knows your business better than you and your employees?
But while it’s true that your employees should play an important role in the design process, they are not warehouse designers. Making them responsible for design when design is not their strength can not only introduce design delays as your associates learn about warehouse design on-the-fly, but also pulls their focus from any areas that require their expertise and time.
By letting your employees do what they’re good at—their real jobs—and leaning on a systems integrator to help with the design, your job will get done quicker, more efficiently, and with less stress. Better yet, by working with outside help and freeing up your internal resources to keep things running smoothly, your internal processes won’t get thrown off kilter (something that can be a common problem during design builds that rely wholly on internal resources).
5. They bring an outside view to the project.
There is no doubt that you know your business better than anyone else. So why shouldn’t you be the one who plans your facility upgrade? Three simple words: You’re too close.
When you’ve done the same things the same ways for years (or decades), it can be difficult to imagine new solutions. But if you fail to recognize areas of improvement within your operation, then your new DC is unlikely to reach its true potential. Sure, the old solution might work, but is it the best solution for your problem?
By bringing in an outside resource like a systems integrator, you are bringing in an outside view that has the ability to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes all it takes is a set of fresh eyes to spot an obvious area of improvement.
Plus, a systems integrator offering design consulting services will be able to leverage years or decades of experience working in support of different companies and industries to create a solution that is perfect for your project—a solution that you otherwise may never have thought of. Access to this experience and outside perspective is what you are really paying for when you work with a systems integrator or design consultant.
6. They can help you understand and interpret your data.
Between SKU data, inventory data, order history data, and more, you are verifiably swimming in information about your operation. And that’s a great thing: The more information you have about your business and your procedures, the more informed you are when making big decisions about upgrading your facilities to match your business goals.
But just as with Point 5 above, sometimes you are too close to really put that data to its most effective use. You latch onto certain KPIs or data points thinking that they are what you should be focusing on, when in reality you should be prioritizing something completely different.
Warehouse design consultants and systems integrators live in data. They are professionals at sorting through data points and finding the most important numbers to focus on improving, and they can help you better understand your data so that you know what is truly important to prioritize.
7. They can leverage their relationships with manufacturers.
One of the key benefits of working with a systems integrator on your design build (and one of the defining differences between systems integrators and warehouse design consultants) is the fact that they tend to have strong relationships with a variety of manufacturers and service providers. It is by leveraging these relationships that integrators are able to create best-in-breed solutions for your operation.
In addition to potentially allowing you to save some money on equipment and system costs, these relationships also help to inform the technologies and solutions that integrators recommend. This gives you access to insights that you wouldn’t normally have access to—say, about new equipment that is being developed—which can be helpful in determining whether you should allocate budget to something today or hold off a short while, when a promising new technology will be available.
Though it is true that design consultants also have relationships that they can leverage in your favor, the fact remains that working with an integrator may offer additional accountability because integrators are also responsible for the actual implementation of your systems.
The Bottom Line
Designing a new facility or upgrading an existing facility is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts. By working with a systems integrator or warehouse design consultant, you are able to leverage decades of expertise so that you walk away with a facility that designed and built to meet your operational goals.