In this manual, two materials-handling equipment salesmen detail how to determine the best equipment and layout for new and existing warehouse buildings.
In an introduction, experienced sales reps MacDonald and Binns (Exercises, Instructive and Entertaining, in False English, 2008) warn that with warehouses, “layout is very much a game of inches….An unexpected extra half inch per bay, when multiplied a number of times in a row of racks, can cause an expensive headache.” In the pages that follow, they spec out the choices and issues that managers should consider regarding floor and space layout, including such variables as storage depths, heights, and aisle widths, as well as when and where to use forklifts, reach-trucks, and order-pickers so as to arrive at a configuration “most advantageous for your mix of products and orders.” Other topics include the building-block method of storage planning; dock equipment and pallets; automated guided vehicles; and how to combine different pieces of equipment into a unified system. The authors sprinkle commentary throughout on safety issues, such as how to guide order-pickers into narrow aisles to allow easy, safe picking from shelving, but they also note their concern that some of these tips “seem to be little known or used.” They also include layout and equipment illustrations, as well as a terminology section. Throughout, MacDonald and Binns demonstrate laudable awareness that even their intended audience may be intimidated by their manual’s dry topic and high level of detail. That said, the authors provide a helpful overview here for anyone involved in setting up warehousing operations, including the important tip to “go ‘round the circle’ a few times to review the best solutions for your specific needs.” In a tee-up section, “Why Bother,” they make a compelling case not to simply adopt what others in the industry are doing, as they may be working with outdated equipment, inefficiencies, and avoidable problems. However, more detail on how specific equipment and layout configurations might play out for specific products and industries would have been welcome.
An informative operational due-diligence primer.