Retrofitting Existing Warehouses: Key Considerations for Your Needs

Industrial real estate has been the leading property sector for the past four years, and the outlook for 2018 looks just as promising, according to a report from PwC. Fulfillment and warehousing are at the forefront, offering the most promising opportunities in both investment and development.

Is your company focused on reshoring or expanding, or are you in the market for distribution centers as close to your customer base as possible? When purchasing an existing facility, there’s a chance it won’t meet your requirements perfectly and you’ll need to renovate the facility or retrofit certain aspects.

Take these questions into consideration when planning your next warehouse renovation:

Is there room for growth?

Should your business grow or your needs change, you’ll need to be able to adapt. Squeezing into a cramped facility or making compromises about certain pieces of equipment, assets or capabilities may become larger problems in the future.

Automating aspects of your facility can make your processes more efficient, but implementation comes with its challenges. One challenge in automation is the sheer size requirements, Plant Engineering explained. Automated equipment can consume a lot of space, and your facility must be prepared to make room. Whether you plan on introducing these types of systems to your facility immediately or think you might invest in them some time down the road, you’ll need to take the potential for automation into account from the beginning.

Will some products require specific conditions?

Cold rooms require a refrigeration system, quality insulation and a doorway that doesn’t allow heat to seep in. A high-speed door that opens and shuts very quickly minimizes air flow between the cold room and the rest of the facility, which can help keep energy costs low and maintain consistent conditions.

“Cold temperatures take a toll on battery life.”

If cold rooms aren’t insulated well, frost can thaw and create a slip hazard by reducing traction for wheels on carts, lift trucks or other equipment. To prevent thawing, it’s critical that the refrigeration system, ducts and doors are installed properly. Modern Materials Handling pointed out that cold temperatures take a toll on battery life, so facility managers should schedule frequent inspections to keep an eye on performance.

As your business evolves, there’s a chance you’ll need to rearrange your warehouse or facility to meet new demands. This is more challenging in cold storage than other types of facilities, so it’s especially crucial to look ahead and anticipate future needs. Using an automated storage and retrieval system can help. An AS/RS is a material-handling system that offers high-density storage solutions, which means that even as you expand, you’ll have room for your growing inventory.

Are the doorways and aisles big enough?

From the very beginning of your facility retrofit project onward, you’ll always be bringing large equipment and other items through your doorways. One of the first considerations you should address is whether your doors are wide enough so that your equipment, shelving units, inventory, forklifts and trailers can fit inside.

Doorways to your loading docks are another concern: Will your inventory and lift trucks fit smoothly through the opening? Will the trailers you’re working with match the door’s width and height? Don’t forget to assess whether the loading dock is equipped with the right dock levelers, trailer restraints and dock seals to minimize airflow.

Before you begin physically moving items into your warehouse, review the proposed floor plan and determine how much room you’ll have. Will there be enough space so that the aisles and workspaces are wide enough for your employees to comfortably and safely get their jobs done? Are they wide enough so that forklifts can drive down the aisles, turn corners and lift items off shelves?

Work with a partner that specializes in facility maintenance

When you’re working to retrofit an existing warehouse or facility to meet your business’s unique needs, there will be countless considerations to take into account. What can help is working with a maintenance partner that can inspect the facility, detect equipment flaws, install new equipment, test its functionality, identify areas for improvement and create a maintenance plan for your many assets. This kind of relationship will make your renovation go more smoothly and help your facility stay in top condition throughout the years. To learn about how Miner can assist your warehouse retrofit efforts, reach to us out today.