Warehouse Efficiency Tip – Prototyping

When you’re designing and starting a warehouse, you want it to be as efficient as possible. At the same time, it may not be possible to have full knowledge of how the equipment and systems will interact.

You can mitigate this warehouse design risk by testing prototypes of the warehouse equipment before you buy and set it up.

This means that as equipment is selected for the site, from scanners to forklifts to workstations and pick carts and signage, it’s well worth getting a sample or prototype version delivered for the operations team. The team needs to see, manipulate, move, touch, and experience to make informed decisions on the best way to set up the operation.

Automation vendors should be able to provide prototypes or site visits to similar deployments.

Once challenge here is doing something similar with IT systems. The best substitute is a deliberate design process followed by development with interim checkpoints to show the development to the operations team. If the plan is to do requirements, and development, followed by a big-reveal test and go-live, where the Operations team has never seen the system before final UAT, then a lot of people will be disappointed!

All of this takes some extra effort and coordination and lead time for design. That’s ok, because it will avoid the huge cost and effort of replacing equipment that doesn’t fit the operation, or worse, living with inefficiencies. As with every part of the process, the up-front diligence to get the requirements right pays huge dividends down the line.

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