The process of building a warehouse or production facility for a food company is no different than building or buying a new home. The buyer considers a variety of factors to make the home the most livable for their situation and suitable to their needs. Before making this large investment, these needs are thought out early in the process so the buyer is satisfied with the decision for years to come. There are several critical factors which must be considered to design a commercial building that will best suit an organization’s goals. It is imperative the owner and designer deeply understand the operational aspects of the business as it is today and as it will be in the future. This means asking the right questions, understanding operations, diving deep into data, and performing analytics to understand business dynamics.
When designing a warehouse, bulk storage facilities and customer distribution facilities look and operate in different ways; product velocities, flow of goods, and order complexities vary dramatically within these facilities. As a result of business differences the following elements should be considered during the design phase:
- storage densities
- racking configurations
- dock configurations
- automation needs
- material handling equipment needs
- personnel needs
- storage flexibility
- systems integration
In addition to the design elements listed, the most effective warehouse design is the result of information acquired during these various analyses:
- SKU mix and volumes
- product seasonality
- growth patterns
- customer ordering patterns
- transportation needs
In a production environment, flow is king. Throughout the facility, material, equipment, and people must harmoniously flow through the facility to create the most efficient process and the least amount of waste. During the facility design, movement of all of these items (current and future) must be mapped and then translated to a safe and efficient floor plan. Production equipment needs must be specified, evaluated in detail, and designed into the floor plan. Utility requirements must be analyzed and equipment sized before being placed into efficient areas of the facility. All the while, the designer and the owner must consider other critical items such as employee and food safety, and environmental and regulatory requirements. Throughout the entire process, designers and owners must incorporate current needs, future needs, and overall flexibility into the designs.
Safety is another key element involved in the design of a new facility. This involves not only utilizing proper food safety practices, but also taking into consideration the safety of the employees, visitors and vehicular traffic that comes into and out of the building. Effectively analyzing the movement of people and product through the facility will create a work environment that emphasizes safety.
Evaluation of all of these various warehouse and production elements can be very complex. Owners and designers need to know how to perform the required analyses and what to look for. Ultimately, the learning and insights that are developed during these evaluations are key concepts to developing a facility that optimally fits the needs of the business.
At Tippmann Group, our businesses incorporate those elements which are both operationally and design based. As a result, we understand operations and how an effectively designed facility can dramatically impact efficiency, quality, and cost. For more information about how we perform this analytical based design for our customers, please call us at (260) 490-3000 or contact us via email.