All small businesses need storage of some kind, even if it is just for some paperwork.
Although many office-based businesses have been able to cut down on the physical space they take up in the last decade or so – largely down to mobile technology being used in offices so much – many companies still require storage space for stock, tools and machinery.
According to a government small business survey of 2014, some 88 per cent of small businesses operate from a single site, meaning that they usually have to be flexible with their space, giving enough for people to be able to work properly as well as providing adequate room for storage.
Most smaller companies manage to keep their storage needs under control when they are starting out, but as turnover rises, so the need to keep more stock ready to fulfil orders becomes necessary.
It is usually at some crucial point of business growth that a firm finds itself no longer in the position to be able to cope with the storage system it has in place.
However, there are many things that can be done before moving to new premises with more room – with all of the upheaval that moving makes.
Split Administrative Areas From Storage Space
Artificial dividers, even if you cannot install full internal walls, help you to separate work zones. Small businesses can offer in terms of productivity when offices, workshops and warehouse areas are all mixed up together.
By simply roping off areas, productivity will rise as it becomes easier for all to see what each space is for. Paper document, such as goods dockets and inventories, are subsequently much less likely to get mixed up with things like accounts and personnel files.
Keep your business split up and you will also be able to identify when you need to invest in more stock storage products and if you need more office storage.
Warehouses are okay for archiving out of date paperwork, but remember that administrative staff may need regular access to the latest documents, so administrative storage must include things like filing cabinets which remain in the office area.
Make Dedicated Goods In and Goods Out Areas
In small business set ups, goods in and goods out can get mixed up, especially if incoming deliveries and outgoing despatches all go through the same door.
If you cannot avoid using the same space, then make sure items are processed and go into storage in your warehouse or stock room rapidly.
This means that nothing hangs around, potentially getting mixed up. Invest in the sort of warehouse storage solutions (WSSL) that allow goods to flow into a stock area with the minimum of human intervention, such as pallet racking with automated flow.
Under gravity, such systems simply transport goods from where they arrive to where they can be processed for storage.
Consider the Layout of Your Stock
Keeping items in stock is not simply about finding a shelf with adequate space. In a well-run warehouse, fast-flowing items are stored in the areas where they are easiest for operatives to pick them.
Items which need to be processed or used in a manufacturing set up should be available quickly when they are required to meet orders.
In some small manufacturing businesses, keeping components in stock next to the production area can seriously boost efficiency. Slow moving items, conversely, can take up harder-to-reach spaces in your layout.
Nevertheless, racks and shelves should all be easy to reach and to inspect. Even in a small business, this means providing adequate light as well as space, including an aisle width which allows goods to be stowed safely.
Heavy items, which need a forklift to reach, will ideally be placed on lower racks.