In manufacturing and other industrial settings, companies often encounter an old, all-too-familiar problem: They're running out of square footage, and expanding isn't a feasible option. When that happens, managers don't have to just accept that reality as "the way things are," even if they feel as though their potential paths forward are limited.
The following tips could help you free up more space than you might think in your factory and storage facilities, and potentially give your business a boost in the process:
1) Right-size your aisles
Whether you're talking about the factory floor or the place where you store products and raw materials, the width of your aisles plays a bigger role in your efficiency than you might realize, according to Reliable Plant. If they're too wide, you probably aren't making the best use of your square footage, but if they're too narrow, they could hold up a smooth workflow in other ways.
2) Build upwards
Of course, making your aisles wider if they are too narrow will probably squeeze your floor space, perhaps to an unmanageable level, Reliable Plant said. For that reason — and more — it's important to make sure you are making as much use of cubic footage, not just square footage. Your facility likely has high ceilings, and adding shelving above your existing options can help you make better use of your space.
3) Figure out why you're running out of space
However, you may not always be facing this kind of squeeze because you just don't have enough shelf space, according to Envista. You may have purchased new equipment, hired more employees or otherwise made investments in your business that took up more floor space than you though. If you can pinpoint why you're getting pinched, it's easier to come up with workarounds.
4) Determine whether you need a new storage option
On the other hand, sometimes the shelving you've been relying on for years or even decades just doesn't cut it for your needs in the 2020s, Envista added. As a consequence, you might want to research whether new, modular shelving solutions could be better for your storage needs going forward. A little research will likely go a long way toward ensuring you find the right fit.
5) Figure out inventory needs
Along similar lines, your inventory and procurement strategies that have served you well for years may not adequately meet your current and future needs, according to Tompkins. If you find your shelves are constantly stocked to the point of overflowing, changing your strategies could help you free up crucial space all over your facility.
6) Redesign from the ground up
Sometimes, none of the above options are going to give you the space you need, and as such, you may need to rethink your entire layout, Tompkins warned. That doesn't have to be the end of the world, by any means, but you may have to do more to ensure your total factory layout is conducive to the best possible utilization of your floor space.