Mobile carts make things easier. Whether they are simple wire utility carts or fancy battery-powered models, they help to improve efficiency and are becoming increasingly common in most warehouses. They are an expensive option for additional storage since they are sturdy, but their mobility makes all the difference when the stuff you’re storing needs to quickly and easily change locations. The issues come up when you are squeezed for space, and the carts have a tricky time maneuvering. You already know you need clear paths for forklifts or pallet jacks, but you also need to make sure there are clear paths for these carts, without slowing down traffic or reducing item handling efficiency. Here are some tips for reworking the carts in your current warehouse design.
Start By Assessing The Carts
You need to start with an understanding of where, when, and how carts are currently used in your warehouse. Are they used for the entire picking process, or only for a section of it where they have to follow a particular path? If they only operate on a particular route, having more (or maybe fewer, larger) carts might improve efficiency. If they are used all over the warehouse, perhaps you need one for each picker or several that are assigned to each section. Once you know how they’re being used, you can better understand how they might be used better.
Next, Assess Everything Else
You also need to assess how things are moving through your facility other than carts. Are there forklifts that need a clear, safe path or gravity conveyors that are already moving product? Assess if the carts help these existing processes or get in the way. If some carts and forklifts have to share a path, you may need to address aisle width by moving shelves and pallet racks to make more space. However, if aisles are too broad, that may slow down pickers who have to go back and forth across a wide corridor that also has heavy machine traffic. You may find that you need to rearrange inventory items for things that are often picked together to maintain picker efficiency on the broader aisle.
After you make changes, monitor time to see if the improvements have improved anything. You may find that your changes have improved travel time greatly, or that you’ve inadvertently caused a new hangup somewhere else. Continue looking for ways to enhance the carts’ mobility, and you will continue to improve efficiency.
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