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Future proof your investment

20 August 2014

When you consider moving to or building a new warehouse, it is imperative that you plan for the future; even more so when constructing your own due to the inherent additional capital investment cost.

Forward planning in late 2007 by Karndean Designflooring and its storage systems partner SEC Storage, has meant seven years on its distribution centre can still accommodate significant sales growth.

Over seven years ago Karndean, the UK’s market leader in luxury vinyl flooring, had begun to outgrow its UK distribution centre based in Evesham. This meant 60% of its stock was being stored in outside in third party storage. Not only did this have a significant impact on the operation but added additional, unnecessary cost to the supply chain.

"We were experiencing exceptional sales performance in the latter part of the last decade, which meant we had essentially outgrown the premises,” explains Karndean Designflooring operations director John Wright. "External costs plus the inconvenience of the third party storage was simply not sustainable for us as an expanding business.”

"SEC Storage specified increasing the height of the warehouse by only a small margin. This had little impact on cost yet significantly increased the company’s storage capacity.”

Due to the lack of suitable warehousing stock in Worcestershire, the company decided that building a new warehouse was the best option. It was also recognised early on that this would provide additional benefits as it could be specified to suit future operational needs.

The first objective of the new warehouse build was to incorporate all stock on to one site, removing any need for external storage. The second objective was to build a warehouse capable of servicing the 15% to 20% year-on-year growth predicted.

Karndean opened discussions with SEC Storage in late 2007. During the design, planning and architectural stage of the process, SEC Storage specified that by increasing the height of the warehouse by only a small margin, it would allow for the storage of full height pallets at the top beam level of the pallet racking. This would therefore provide Karndean with the optimum number of full pallet storage spaces, as no products were stored on half height pallets. This increase in height had little impact on the final cost of the warehouse build yet would significantly increase the company’s storage capacity.

The final storage solution devised by SEC Storage was a wide aisle configuration based on reach truck forklift material handling equipment.

"We did initially explore narrow aisle configurations however it was decided a standard wide aisle configuration would suit our needs better,” says John. 

"While optimum storage capacity was one of our key drivers for the project, we still needed a storage solution that would meet and complement our operational needs. SEC Storage helped us achieve this with their wide aisle configuration solution. Importantly, they helped us bring our total pallet storage capacity to 9,750.

Karndean also have a number of smaller products, such as bespoke accessories and design components that are picked with palletised goods. In order to reduce picking time, SEC Storage devised a pigeon hole system, so that these products could be stored alongside palletised goods. This was a timber dividing system within the first beam level of the end pallet racking bay. This enabled bulk pallet storage above the pigeon hole picking locations below.

SEC Storage recommended that timber decking should be installed throughout the 9,750 pallet positions. Not only did this provide greater flexibility throughout the system but Karndean felt this added greater safety to the installation, with pallets stored at heights up to eleven metres.

"In order to reduce picking time, SEC Storage devised a pigeon hole system, so that smaller products could be stored alongside palletised goods.”

"Nothing has really changed since we unveiled our new look warehouse in 2008, except some changes in the size of pallets we now store. These changes have been easily incorporated into our existing storage system thanks to the timber decking,” says John.

"Our sales growth has increased above expected levels. This is obviously excellent for the company, but a challenge for our warehouse. 

"However original planning of the build and configuration specified by SEC Storage means that we still have the ability to increase capacity.

"Forward planning from both physical and theoretical layout at the outset of the project, plus utilising a warehouse management system that can accommodate additional pallet locations, means that we are more than equipped to cater for increased storage within our existing warehouse,” John concludes.