The 2016 Warehouse Fit-Out FAQ

When you’re opening a new warehouse, the overall project will often be extremely time-critical, so it must run to a strict budget and deadline. As such, it helps to know about some of the issues, possibilities and pitfalls of a ‘turnkey’ warehouse solution.

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Here’s a short FAQ that covers the key issues you can expect to come across.

1. What is a complete warehouse fit-out?

Ordinarily, when you purchase or rent a new warehouse, you will only be paying for the basic shell of the building. Everything you need to turn it into a functioning facility, such as shelving/racking, loading bay systems, escalators, conveyor belts and literally anything else you may require, will have to be planned for, designed and constructed from scratch.

This entire process is known as your “fit-out” project.

2. Where should I start?

Your first port of call should be finding a reputable partner for your fit-out project. You will want to look for an experienced partner company with a strong track record and plenty of experience with turnkey warehouse fit-out projects.

Pick the wrong partner and you could be in for a bumpy ride, so this is an essential step in the process.

3. How should I find a warehouse partner?

The key here is to talk to more than one potential supplier so as to not limit your options. Try to find 3 seemingly adept suppliers, and then ask a few questions in order to assess the company from there, ensuring you select the best partner for your needs.

It’s important to compare ‘apples with apples’, so prepare a check list of factors you will evaluate each potential partner on – such as the company’s core skills, past experience and quality guarantees. For a more complete list of exactly what to ask, take a look at our earlier guide.

4. Why is it worth using a single warehouse solutions supplier to do everything?

There are many benefits to selecting a supplier that can design, provide and install everything needed for your warehouse fit-out project. We’ve outlined them in full here.

In simple terms, using a single supplier will help to simplify the process due to the fact that you only have to deal with one company, which will also help with purchase orders and invoices, reduce the price overall via economies of scale, speed of delivery and completion time. In many cases you will get a better overall service as they will be aware of all the details across the whole project.

5. How important is a warehouse design and plan?

In a word – crucial. Without a coherent, logical plan the project will be a nightmare to manage, and probably a resounding failure. Bearing in mind you need to keep the existing business going at the same time, you need everything to go as smoothly as possible.

There are so many little details, large builds and logistical headaches involved with a properly planned out project, so without such a plan in place you may as well stop now.

6. What factors should I be aware of during planning?

Planning, as previously mentioned, is a vital part of the warehouse fit-out process. You will need to consider each and every aspect of the project, as changes will be much more difficult to implement later in the project.

Think about ensuring that your new facility is equipped to handle your chosen stock lines, whether or not it is easily expandable at a later date should your business grow, any required electrical systems, staff facilities and mezzanine floors.

You will also need to pay heed to all the relevant health and safety regulations. A more complete write up can be found here.

7. How should I choose my pallet racking?

When it comes to pallet racking, while price is always a key consideration and it can be tempting just to jump on the cheapest quote, this may not always be the best idea. Sometimes, it can be worth investing a little more to ensure the best system possible, and getting expert advice to help you choose.

A decent supplier will work with you to create a brief which to outline your racking needs and stock flow, but if you would like an overview to help with that part of the process, you can find our earlier article on the subject here.

8. Should I consider a mezzanine floor?

A mezzanine floor is always worth considering should you feel you could do with some extra space. These areas can be easily adapted to fit just about any job, from storage to staff areas to pick and pack operations. They are available for a relatively low cost as compared to traditional building extensions, and can dramatically increase your available floor space without the need to pay for extra land.

We have compiled all of the various benefits to a mezzanine structure here, but if you want a simple answer, yes, you should definitely consider mezzanine.

9. Why don’t I just redesign my existing warehouse?

You can, and in many cases, you should.

A whole new facility is not always necessary, as with the right adaptations such as mezzanine installations, your existing facility could potentially be put to much better use.

Other options include adding height to existing racking or swapping out said racking for a more efficient variant. Optimise your storage, operations and available space, and you may not need that move after all.

10. What should I do next?

As previously mentioned, the best place to start a new project is by seeking out your project partner. So, contact AWS today and we will talk through your options, and back up our claims by detailing a few of our case studies, including Delamode, Masters, Cosco and Musto.