October 21, 2020by admin0

Perishable Logistics: Cold Chain on a Plane

Careful planning for perishable air cargo helps shippers keep their cool.

In perishable logistics, time is of the essence to ensure produce, flowers, fish, and other products reach their destinations while they still offer maximum appeal and shelf life. As a result, many of these goods move via air.

But the potential complications of shipping perishables via air are legion: The trans-Atlantic airfreight space for a produce shipment is booked—but the peppers aren’t ready for harvest. Top New York chefs are writing premium Icelandic cod into their menus in anticipation of delivery—but the fish is sitting in a fog-induced backlog at the Keflavik airport. Holland tulips are loaded into the belly of a passenger aircraft—but then the pilot orders several coolers pulled off to free up weight for extra fuel.
Illustration of an airplane marked like a thermometer
The uncertainty inherent in grown or caught product—combined with the potential vagaries of air transport—means managing perishable logistics demands specific expertise. “The greatest challenge is to maintain the cold chain, which varies from product to product,” says Alvaro Carril, senior vice president of sales and marketing for LAN Cargo, a cargo airline based in Santiago, Chile, and a subsidiary of LAN Airlines. LAN Cargo transports salmon and fruit from Chile, asparagus from Peru, and flowers from Ecuador and Colombia to the U.S. market

Perishable Logistics: Cold Chain on a Plane

Tags: 3PL, Air Cargo, Temperature Controlled, Temperature-Sensitive Goods, Global Logistics, Packaging, Food Logistics

Illustration of an airplane marked like a thermometer

Careful planning for perishable air cargo helps shippers keep their cool.

More to the Story:

In perishable logistics, time is of the essence to ensure produce, flowers, fish, and other products reach their destinations while they still offer maximum appeal and shelf life. As a result, many of these goods move via air.

But the potential complications of shipping perishables via air are legion: The trans-Atlantic airfreight space for a produce shipment is booked—but the peppers aren’t ready for harvest. Top New York chefs are writing premium Icelandic cod into their menus in anticipation of delivery—but the fish is sitting in a fog-induced backlog at the Keflavik airport. Holland tulips are loaded into the belly of a passenger aircraft—but then the pilot orders several coolers pulled off to free up weight for extra fuel.

The uncertainty inherent in grown or caught product—combined with the potential vagaries of air transport—means managing perishable logistics demands specific expertise. “The greatest challenge is to maintain the cold chain, which varies from product to product,” says Alvaro Carril, senior vice president of sales and marketing for LAN Cargo, a cargo airline based in Santiago, Chile, and a subsidiary of LAN Airlines. LAN Cargo transports salmon and fruit from Chile, asparagus from Peru, and flowers from Ecuador and Colombia to the U.S. market.

“Transporting salmon is different than moving flowers, and both commodities require special and differential treatment,” Carril notes.

Perishable logistics is an evolving science, as changing consumption patterns, variable regulation, rising customer expectations, and shifts in services converge to create a complex and changing supply chain.

Pineapples on Board

Perishables shippers use both passenger aircraft and freighters to speed goods to their destinations, according to market needs, the nature of the commodity, product margin, and individual preferences.

Passenger flights are generally more frequent, less expensive, and more widely available, but they require adherence to tight timetables, and goods may get bumped at the pilot’s discretion. Freighters offer better temperature control, fewer inspections, and additional capacity, which is particularly valuable for large quantities of short-season goods. But freighters can be more costly, may fly less often and to fewer locations (depending on the region), and may sit until they reach capacity, endangering perishables.

Air cargo has long competed with ocean shipping for some perishables commodities. One common pattern is for the beginning-of-the-season harvest to ship via air so it’s first to market, followed by ocean shipping as the full season gets underway, says Markus Fellmann, global vice president of Hellmann Perishable Logistics, a Miami-based unit of third-party logistics (3PL) provider Hellmann Worldwide.

Pineapples and stone fruit, with their long shelf lives, have been shippable via ocean for some time. Today, scientific advances —such as specialized packaging that extends produce lifecycles—are enabling additional commodities to move via steamship. For example, Chiquita Brands International subsidiary TransFresh Corporation creates controlled-atmosphere containers and techniques that are driving interest in ocean transport for other types of fruit.

Other perishable goods are also more commonly shipped via ocean. Between 30 and 40 percent of the volume of cut flowers from Colombia, and 20 percent of those from Kenya, could move via steamship within five years, according to some estimates.

But, steamship lines’ efforts to reduce fuel consumption by traveling more slowly has forced some perishables commodities back to air cargo. Trips from Holland to New York that once took seven to eight days can now take 12 days on the water.

“In the past, we moved a lot of bell peppers in sea containers to the United States, but in the past five years, the volume has decreased,” says Marcel van der Pluijm, account manager, United States and Canada, at Global Green Team, a fruit and vegetable trading company in Maasdijk, Holland. “Transit times are too long by steamship, so 99 percent of peppers move by air.”

The air or sea choice comes down to what value a producer is seeking to deliver—and it is often a matter of taste versus price. “A mango shipped by air has a different taste and quality than one shipped by sea,” says Uta Frank, product manager, perishables, for Lufthansa Cargo, the Frankfurt, Germany-based air cargo subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

A Fleeting Concern

Thanks to increased air cargo volumes for commodities such as flowers, perishables supply chain executives report a slow but steady rise in air cargo use. But one development with the potential to significantly impact perishables movement is the transition of airline passenger fleets to new, more environmentally friendly models. Fewer available widebody aircraft threatens to reduce cargo capacity and dimensions, impacting perishables shippers reliant on those routes.

Another factor is the ongoing transformation in both product growth and consumption. In Europe, for example, “domestic production in North America and Latin America is a big challenge and threat to overseas exports from Europe,” says van der Pluijm. That has European producers eyeing emerging markets such as China and India.

The increasing globalization of perishables comes with some trade-offs. Food safety incidents that once would have been locally contained now have the potential to spread across the globe. Over the past few years, for example, a “Fish Farmageddon” has been underway among salmon farms due to Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus, which poses no proven health risks to humans, but kills fish.

The virus is threatening native salmon in countries that import it, leading to bans. Chile reportedly lost $2 billion and more than 25,000 jobs during an ISA crisis in 2008. Although the country has mostly recovered, the virus re-emerged there in 2012.

To try to control foodborne illness, the United States passed the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, which gave the Food and Drug Administration more power over safety and recalls. Traceability requirements are expected to follow. In the meantime, the produce industry formed the Produce Traceability Initiative, a voluntary, industry-wide effort to maximize the effectiveness of existing track-and-trace procedures. “We all eat, and we want our food to be safe,” says Christopher Connell, president of Commodity Forwarders, a Los Angeles-based freight forwarder specializing in perishables.

Other governments have also begun to issue regulations, but different countries and jurisdictions adhere to different standards, complicating compliance.

One step to safety is guaranteeing the cleanliness of food-grade containers. It is critical that companies packing the containers have processes in place to ensure adherence to cleanliness standards. “The industry is proactive when it comes to cleanliness, because it helps reduce claims,” says Fellmann. “And no one likes to deal with claims.”

Pests and parasites are an important concern, with some countries requiring fumigation of certain import products. Produce, for example, is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which sends any unknown insects it discovers to a lab for analysis. Different countries have different policies about what bugs are acceptable.

The safety of perishable goods themselves is not all that is at stake. Homeland Security regulations that began requiring 100-percent inspection of all passenger aircraft cargo in 2010 include perishables. But inspecting cargo takes time—and time is not on the side of perishable goods. So instead of waiting for government inspection, a number of freight forwarders have attained the credentials required to inspect and certify that perishables shipments are free of devices of terrorism. This requires them to invest in worker training and certification, develop secure processes, and implement physical security systems.

Peninsula of Boston, for example, is an independent transfer point for fresh food distribution in the Northeast, and a Certified Cargo Screening Facility that inspects fresh fish traveling on passenger aircraft.

“The cargo volume is too great for the airlines to handle,” explains Joseph O’Neill Jr., vice president of business development at Peninsula. The company also acts as an indirect air carrier, receiving, booking, packing, sealing, and handling documentation for seafood wholesalers.

Streamlining Clearances

Perishables handlers take great pains to ensure customs clearances go as smoothly as possible, so goods don’t sit idle. Experience and long-term relationships with customs go a long way toward making that happen.

One location that has expediency down to a science is Miami, where about 90 percent of imported flowers enter the United States. The majority of those flowers come from Colombia and Ecuador. An average of seven daily flights, six days per week, carry nothing but flowers into the United States, says Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, a Miami-based trade group. Steamships have traditionally been used only for major events such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

One for All

Due to this massive volume, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has given the port’s air carriers authority to act on importers’ behalf, managing the entire planeload as one shipment instead of handing off clearance responsibilities to the 30 or 40 brokers that may be involved in a single aircraft’s payload.

“The air carriers prepare the paperwork and sampling, and show the product to customs,” says Boldt. “A farm may ship to several customers, so instead of inspecting multiple times, customs can do it once.” Customs operates around the clock, and the USDA also offers extended hours to speed processing.

Incoming freighters travel directly to coolers at Miami International Airport within minutes of landing. LAN Cargo, for example, operates a 430,000-square-foot cold storage facility on site, with 161,460 square feet acclimatized and outfitted with specialized equipment to handle perishables. The company has invested $8.3 million in cold infrastructure since 2010.

Neighboring the Miami airport facility are two fumigation plants, and importers are all located within five miles of the airport so they can quickly come pick up goods. At least 25 ground carriers specializing in flowers are based in the area, all set up to speed deliveries to their destinations across the United States. Most flowers travel via the boxes they were packed in, but supermarkets and mass merchants require that shippers open the boxes, cut and package the flowers, then place them in standup bucket boxes.

The entire trip from South American farm to North American retailer can take as few as four days. The speed is essential to provide a positive flower purchase experience and drive repeat purchases.

When a harvest or fishing season begins, companies in the perishables supply chain are eager to be first to market. That means stiff competition for limited capacity in the bellies of passenger aircraft, or coordinating shipments from enough farms or producers to fill a freighter.

“To accommodate peaks, we handle full charter, and we negotiate block space agreements with certain carriers for daily, weekly, or monthly allocations,” explains Fellmann. Backhaul capacity may be used to deliver consumer goods or electronics to destinations that supplied flowers, fish, or produce.

Perishables customers want logistics partners that can ensure access to capacity, cool facilities in as many steps of transport as feasible and affordable, and the ability to move goods rapidly and on time.

Another growing demand is for end-to-end service. With sourcing from more diverse locations, perishable supply chains have become crowded; shippers are seeking service providers who can manage multiple suppliers and/or provide a range of services under a single banner.

Kuehne + Nagel, a global third-party logistics provider, for example, recently opened an accredited airfreight station at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to ensure seamless cold chain integrity for temperature-sensitive air cargo. That step enables the company to manage all logistics and brokerage tasks so the shipper receives one invoice, rather than several.

Experience is critical to understanding the characteristics and needs of each commodity, so many forwarders, airlines, and other service providers train and employ staff devoted specifically to perishables. In June 2012, for example, Lufthansa Cargo formed a dedicated team based at Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF), Lufthansa’s major hub for perishables. PCF is a storage facility equipped with product-specific, temperature-regulated storage and processing capacity. The facility also offers freighter parking directly adjoining the facility to reduce time spent on the tarmac, where product is most likely to be exposed to warm temperatures and weather.

A Plum Job in Packaging

The biggest challenge in perishable logistics is “maintaining high-quality product and service levels,” says van der Pluijm.

Proper packaging is essential to ensure perishables survive the hand-offs and temperature variability involved in air import and export. Packing strategies might include specialized boxes and packing materials, and use of gel packs, thermal blankets, dry ice, and other materials. Fresh fish is typically packed in polystyrene boxes with gel packs, for example.

Some goods need to be pre-cooled for transport to withstand flying conditions and extend shelf life. Hothouse peppers, for example, must be cooled from about 80°F down to 54°F.

One potential area for improvement is standardization of box sizes. In floral shipping, for example, large-headed roses require a different box size than carnations, and shippers sometimes specify a particular type of box, making it challenging to efficiently palletize shipments.

On freighters, perishable produce often moves via aluminum trays resembling cookie sheets, which are slid into pallets; on passenger aircraft, goods must be packed to fit into unit load device (ULD) containers that conform to the shape of the plane’s belly. When it comes to containers, airlines “have under-invested in consumable perishables and over-invested in pharmaceuticals,” where they can charge higher fees, says Connell.

Another challenge is variability among ULD containers. “Depending on how and when they’re built, and whether they have been repaired, ULD containers can vary in weight,” explains O’Neill. “Shippers want to maximize space capacity, but if they are five to 10 pounds over the weight limit, the airline can refuse the shipment or require them to remove product.” Shipping loose boxes is much more costly per-pound than full containers. Packaging, gel packs, and ice also add weight, impacting margin.

For Gerawan Farming, which grows stone fruit and grapes in Fresno, Calif., under the Prima name, quality is a defining element of its brand. So the company designed its own single-layer cardboard container that offers 47 percent more strength than two-layer boxes. “We want to avoid jostling and bruises,” explains Dan Cuevas, plant facility manager for Gerawan.

Keeping Tabs on Tomatoes

Like all shippers, perishables companies are seeking improved information on the location and condition of their precious cargo. That’s prompting carriers and logistics companies to beef up IT, enhance their portals, offer improved logger devices, and even develop their own mobile apps.

“The number of touchpoints is increasing, and shippers want to gather more data at those touchpoints,” says Connell.

Shippers also typically want reports on temperature, humidity levels, and sun exposure. “The industry is struggling to find uniform metrics, so companies are establishing their own benchmarking,” he adds.

Many seafood shippers want to be able to access their entire inventory as they’re selling. “They want to see exactly what products are available in real time, including whether the product was loaded on the plane, and its projected delivery time,” says O’Neill.

Logistics providers are investing in meeting shippers’ visibility demands. Hellmann Perishable Logistics developed the Smart Visibility Tool, a sensor placed in the frame between the aircraft door and the container to monitor temperature, movement, location, and door openings—then communicate that information via GPS and satellite through the shipment’s journey.

Lufthansa Cargo unveiled a similar device in December 2013. Shippers can place a lightweight tracker in any consignment, track the shipment via a portal, and return the device by mail after the goods have been delivered. The transmitters switch off automatically during flight. Lufthansa is working to add sensors to the device to record conditions, in addition to location.

As long as consumers have an appetite for perishable products that can only be sourced in faraway destinations, air cargo will play a key role in the supply chain. But logistics professionals need to stay cool under the pressure of moving perishable goods quickly and safely through agile and flexible supply chains.


October 21, 2020by admin0

For businesses that deal in large quantities of inventory

Transportation costs can have a significant impact on profitability and growth.


Transport costs can be mystifying for many businesses, with a number of different freight products, classes and highly dynamic costs. Although it pays to plan for cost spikes, the best strategy to reduce the financial burden of transporting your inventory is to reduce freight costs on a day-to- day basis. Here are five strategies to unlock cheaper and more reliable freight.
Reconsider your packaging

Packing freight more efficiently is one of the simplest ways to reduce cost. Space occupied is typically a key factor that businesses take into account when setting freight rates, so reducing dead space will almost always result in lower rates. In some cases, new packaging may increase breakage or spoilage rates; while it generally pays to reduce lost stock, some breakage may be an acceptable price to pay for a significant reduction in freight costs.
Ship less regularly

Shipping in bulk is typically less expensive than shipping the same volume of product in multiple, smaller consignments. Bulk customers get cheaper rates because carriers can load a container more efficiently – less time is required as the carrier does not need to process, load and unload as many customers’ shipments. On the other hand, regular shipping requires your customers to carry a larger quantity of inventory than they immediately need. This incurs inventory carrying costs, so a small reduction in price or otherwise favourable terms may therefore be necessary.

For some products, shipping components or ingredients in bulk to assemble and pack closer to the point of sale may also allow you to transport product more efficiently.
Agree to ship a fixed volume

Larger businesses often turn to standing capacity to reduce transportation costs; the business agrees to regularly purchase specified space with the carrier in exchange for discounted rates and preferential treatment. This option may not suit very small businesses, although it may be a good option if you regularly ship product between fixed locations. In the event that demand for transportation spikes, having standing capacity saves you from paying significantly higher prices.
Ship off-peak

Unless you’re in the business of supplying perishable goods, there is no need to pay for on-peak shipping. From time to time, customers who have implemented just-in-time inventory control will require on-peak delivery, but at their own expense. Shipping on off-peak days can, depending on the local market, create significant savings. Backhaul shipping, where carriers attempt to fill empty trucks heading back to base, can further reduce expenses. If you ship significant volumes, consider contacting carriers based in destination centres to see whether there is any backhaul capacity available.

Use data to identify freight weaknesses

Modern inventory management systems collect a significant amount of data, covering most facets of a business’ inventory operations. This data can be used to identify instances of poor shipping performance and to determine the potential cause. For example, shipping records can be used to identify carriers or shipping lanes that have higher than average breakage or late delivery rates.


October 21, 2020by admin0

Planning a Warehouse Network and Design:

Key Factors to Consider



In this post, I’d like to talk about the key factors that will impact on the optimum facility network and design required to meet your warehousing or storage requirements.

Since I first published this article back in 2009, warehouse design principles haven’t altered that much, but as we received many comments, including requests for more information, I figured it might be a good idea to expand on the original piece.

In addition to the original content, this new version covers some of the things you should consider in the early stages of warehouse design, even before you start to think about the FAST concept and its application to warehouse layout. It includes some questions to answer in determining the number of warehouses required in a network, and their optimal locations.


Some Tips for Multi-Warehouse Network Planning



Let’s begin with a look at network planning, because whether your company requires one warehouse or five, your service, efficiency, and costs will be influenced heavily by your choice of location and capacity. Of course, it would be possible to write an entire book on this particular subject, so for the sake of keeping this article relatively brief, I’ll stick to a short explanation of crucial factors to consider when planning a warehouse network (even if it is a network of one).


Outbound Logistics: Keeping Customers Satisfied


Your customer service offer is one of the most critical of these factors, particularly concerning order lead times. For example, if speedy delivery is a part of your service strategy (which is often the case in today’s on-demand environment), you will either need to locate your warehouses close to customers, or close to the facilities of your preferred carriers. This requirement, in turn, will influence decisions about the number of warehouses required, and their capacity.


What Happens in Your Warehouses?


Aside from considering customer service aspects, such as lead times and supply chain velocity, you will also need to think about anticipated throughput and more specifically, receiving, storage, and dispatch volumes, as well as the types of processes that will be performed in your warehouse facilities.

Your distribution strategy too, will have a bearing on network optimisation. For instance, is your strategy all about the highest possible levels of customer service, or does your company compete more in the low-cost space? What levels of inventory availability do you require? How fast are your inventory turns?

Then there are the physical requirements for each warehouse. Will you deploy automated equipment, or are your processes primarily manual and likely to remain that way?


Think About Inbound Too


Don’t forget to consider inbound logistics. Where are your suppliers located? What lead-times are acceptable for incoming deliveries? How reliable are your suppliers? These are all questions to be answered and taken into account when planning the size and location of your warehouses.


Start Thinking FAST


If you are already familiar with the FAST concept in warehouse design layout (if not, see the sections below), you will know that the objective of FAST is to ensure each activity-locations are close enough together to enable smooth workflows, but not too close to clutter the process and reduce efficiency.

You can apply the similar thinking to the layout of your warehouse network, although the emphasis should be more on locating your warehouses close enough to customers to support your service offering, without introducing difficulties on the supply side.


Planning Individual Warehouse Design and Capacity



If you have established the number of warehouses required and their locations, the next thing you might want to think about is structural design and capacity. There are a lot of different factors to consider in getting these things right, so it makes sense to list the key questions that you will need to answer before getting to work on the design. The following list of suggested questions is not exhaustive, but it should help you to make a start in determining your requirements.

What activities will take place in your warehouse? Will your operation comprise intake, storage, picking, packing, and dispatch, or will you need areas set aside to perform value-added services?

What are the characteristics of your products? This factor will have a significant impact on your warehouse design, meaning you will need to be thorough in determining your needs. Be mindful of the following:

  • What types of products will you store in your warehouse?
  • How easy are they to store in stacks on the floor or in warehouse racking?
  • Are the products hazardous, fragile, or is there any other reason they need special handling?
  • How will the products be stored? Will they be full pallets, cartons, individual items?
  • Will your products require any processing other than storage?
  • Do your products need to be stored in compliance with any special rules or regulations?
  • Do your products need any form of control in the storage environment (frozen goods, temperature control?)

Are your products subject to seasonality? Will your inventory volumes fluctuate much due to seasonality, or only a little? Try to allow enough capacity for peak storage and throughput, while avoiding too much overcapacity during the quieter months.

Will your warehouse have to handle returns? As more and more companies—especially those engaged in ecommerce—are discovering, it can often be better to manage reverse logistics as a discrete process than to try to integrate returns handling with the normal forward flow. If your warehouse will need to process many returns from customers, you may wish to allow for extra space dedicated to their storage and processing.


The FAST Approach to Warehouse Layout Design




Let’s move on now, to look at the actual layout of your warehouse/s. Four significant elements come into play when designing or laying out any storage or distribution facility, regardless of whether for example, it is a large multi-temperature composite distribution centre servicing a high market network, a spare parts store in a mobile service centre, or a raw materials store supporting a manufacturing operation.

The four fundamental factors can be remembered by using the pneumonic FAST or fast standing for:

  • F-Flow
  • A-Accessibility
  • S-space
  • T- Throughput

These are not in any order of priority. I would advise you to attach equal importance to each of them, and aim to obtain the best compromise of these often-conflicting influences. As one factor is considered and altered, each of the others should be revisited to evaluate the overall impact of that change.


F is for Flow



What we’re looking for here is a logical sequence of operations within the warehouse where each activity is located as close as possible to that which precedes it and similarly, the function that follows it.

We are concerned with the controlled and uninterrupted movement of materials, people and traffic with, if possible, no cross-flow clashes or areas of high traffic or work density.

It’s also critical to know where materials are located within the system, and the status and location in the storage and handling equipment and medium. The aim here should be to situate the various warehouse activities so that each contributes to a smooth flow of operations with a minimum amount of movement and disruption.


A is for Accessibility



By accessibility, we don’t merely mean whether or not we can get to the product. For example, we need to know if we can get to the required level of packaging unit. In the case of bottled water for instance, from a regional or national FMC distribution centre, we’ll be looking at being able to receive and issue product by the pallet load or possibly even by the truckload.

Therefore, you only need to access full pallets, and since bottled water is very fast moving with a long shelf life, a strict policy of first-in-first-out (FIFO) by row to individual pallet level need not be followed. At the wholesaler or distributor level, you might be accessing inventory down to case level and then in the convenience store stock room, individual bottles.

It can go further than this, of course. For pharmaceuticals, access may need to extend beyond individual item level down to specific lock and batch number. These requirements for levels of accessibility must be achieved, especially in the pick face and fast moving stock holding areas, but without unnecessarily compromising the next factor in the FAST model, which is the use of space.


S is for Space



When considering how to use warehouse space the maximum should be allocated to operational storage and stock processing purposes, while giving up the minimum of space necessary for associated functions such as offices, working areas, empty pallets storage, battery charging, etc.

Thanks to the array of storage media available in today’s market, it’s possible to make optimum use of the cubic capacity of a warehouse’s space—and not only within the floor area.

As most modern storage equipment is free standing and requires no structural support from the building itself, a warehouse building can be of the simplest and cheapest big box design. For the same reason, it’s possible to build flexibility into the operation, by selecting the storage media that best meets the current stock profile and then changing it as the business evolves to meet future requirements. Again, this can be done without expensive and disruptive changes to the actual building—but remember, you still have to consider flow, accessibility, and now finally, throughput.


T is for Throughput



In exploring warehouse throughput, we are not only looking at the categories of product passing through the warehouse, but also the nature of the product and its velocity through the flow. By nature, we mean the handling characteristics, dimensions and any other factors that will affect how inventory moves through the facility, such as hazard, bulk, fragility, security requirements and compatibility with other products.

The velocity of the product will consider the volume that’s moving through the warehouse on each day. You will need to determine pick period activities as well as minimum activity levels. High availability of accurate throughput data will be of great aid to the outcome of the design or layout exercise.

The better your data is and the longer the time spent collecting and analyzing it, the less the risk. However, it is still possible to come up with an acceptable solution when one does not have the luxury of accurate data going back into history. You have to do the best with what is available.


There’s Plenty to Think About in Warehouse Design


As concisely as I have tried to explain warehouse design in this article, I’m sure it will leave you with the impression that planning and designing a warehouse (or warehouse network) is a considerable undertaking.

I wouldn’t try to convince anyone to the contrary, and indeed, I would recommend you to engage a reputable external specialist to help you, unless of course, yours is a large organisation with plenty of internal expertise in warehouse design. I hope though, that the points set out above will give you some idea of the primary considerations.


Summary of Main Points


To summarise, I would say that when considering your warehouse layout or design, the factors of flow, accessibility, and space must be balanced to enable the demand for throughput, meaning the volume passing through and the time parameters to be met.

Similarly, the optimal flow of goods through your inbound and outbound supply chain should be considered when deciding upon the number and locations of warehouses.

Finally, concerning the structural and capacity requirements of individual warehouses, some of the most important things to think about are your service offering, the characteristics of your products, and types of activity that you expect to conduct within the facility.

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