When you are working on warehouse planning, it can feel like every inch matters. That’s because it does. When it comes to the warehousing and materials handling industry, maximizing every inch of your space can help you maximize your profits. It means being able to handle more inventory, fulfill more orders, process everything faster, and prevent you from incurring the expense of moving your warehouse or paying to expand your facility. One of the most important factors in maximizing every inch of your space is your aisle size.
The Importance of Your Aisle Size
Aisle configuration is a major factor in maximizing the capacity of your warehouse space. Many of our customers ask us about the best aisle size for their warehouse when they are purchasing their pallet racking. They understand the importance of this one decision and the impact that it can have for years going forward, so getting it right the first time can help prevent additional reconfiguration expenses in the future.
Your Aisle Size Options
Your three main options are:
- Standard. These are best for counterbalanced forklifts, as it gives them a clear twelve-foot radius in which to maneuver. That way the driver can back up with a load and not hit the racks behind him (which will damage the racks and put them at risk of failure).
- Narrow. A good option if you have stand-up reach trucks or a double-deep reach operating method. This is specialized equipment that is made to operate in a narrower area of space.
- Very Narrow. These aisles are considered a specialized set-up, in that they are only going to work under very particular circumstances. They are ideal for wire, rail, or optical picking guidance systems as well as in warehouses that don’t need forklifts or machinery for picking, sorting, and packing.
Which one is right for you is going to depend on your business, your goals, and the kind of equipment that you use.
How to Choose the Right Aisle Size
Consider your inventory.
Obviously, if you are handling large items or a lot of palletized product, then you are going to need standard or even wide aisles. It’s rarely that straightforward, though. A lot of warehouses who believe they need standard aisles may find a workaround that allows them to utilize narrow aisles and thus gain more storage space. Talking to a warehouse consultant may help you identify new possibilities.
Consider your equipment.
If you use a standard counterbalanced forklift, then you’ll probably want to stick with standard aisles for most, if not all, of your warehouse. But an investment in alternative equipment like a stand-up reach truck could allow you to reconfigure and gain more space. You’ll want to weigh the cost of the equipment against the potential gains in space.
Consider your space needs.
If you are doing alright in terms of space, then stick with standard aisles. They will allow the most versatility in terms of the equipment that you can purchase and use in your facility. If you are starting to run out or anticipate that the day is coming when you’ll need to move, then consider whether or not narrowing your aisles could help you stay in your current facility longer.
Find the right balance.
Be sure to balance your desire to maximize space with productivity and safety. Don’t get so carried away with maximizing your storage capacity that you start spending too much on new equipment or put the safety of your team in jeopardy. It may be helpful to have a warehouse consultant create a couple warehouse planning diagrams for you to examine so you can see exactly how much space you’ll create and whether or not it’s really going to benefit your warehouse.
Ditch your aisles altogether.
There is a very good chance you have more aisles than you actually need. Reconfiguring your pallets to a double-deep system can eliminate a lot of that wasted space and help you get more storage into your current facility. Whether or not this is a viable option will depend on the product that you store and how often you need to access it. But for a majority of warehouses, if you aren’t already using this system, you should be. It can quickly add a third to your storage capacity and all you’ll need to do is buy some additional racking after the reconfiguration work is done.
Wondering if You Should Change Your Aisle Size? We Can Help!
Remember, don’t just do what you’ve always done. Take a fresh look at your warehouse space before installing wholesale pallet rack. We recommend bringing in a DAK Equipment project manager to work with you on your warehouse layout because their expertise in the field can help bring a new perspective to aisle width and warehouse layout that you perhaps had not thought of yet. Wide, narrow and very narrow aren’t your only options, either; our Project Managers can help you find creative solutions customized to the needs of your warehouse. We even have solutions that can eliminate some of your aisles altogether!
Get in touch with our warehouse consultants today to learn more. You can reach us by giving us a call or contacting us through our website. We’ll talk to you about our warehouse planning services and how they can help you make the most out of the space that you have. Get your consultation with our team today!