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Warehouse Layout & Setup Checklist

If you run a warehouse, distribution center, or fulfillment center, you need more than the right space and equipment, you need an efficient warehouse layout.

How you set up your warehouse can influence your productivity, employee performance, inventory, safety, profitability, and more.

A good warehouse design can lead to big wins for your business. However, a poorly designed layout will cause big problems. We're here to help set your operations up for success!

We’ve created a checklist to help you with evaluating your current warehouse or planning a new warehouse.

Download Your Checklist

Use this checklist to help plan your layout design.

Brainstorm Warehouse Design Ideas

Before you put your layout on paper or in practice, brainstorm design ideas with your team. What should go where? Getting input from your team will help you set up a warehouse that everyone approves of.
warehouse strategy
Warehouse Strategy
What are the objectives of your warehouse and how will you execute them?
operational data
Operational Data
How can you maximize your receiving, inventory, and production with data you’ve collected?
building requirements
Building Requirements
What do you need from your warehouse space? Anything your landlord would disapprove?
equipment needs
Equipment Needs
Any storage, systems, automations, and equipment “must haves” for your warehouse layout?
pre-design walkthrough
Pre-design Walkthrough
After brainstorming, walk the space with your team to envision your success.

Draw a Warehouse Layout Template

After you’ve dreamed up what your ideal warehouse should look like, it’s time to put your ideas to paper (or screen). Creating a mock-up isn’t just for art class.
measure your warehouse
Measure Your Warehouse
Be careful to measure your warehouse dimensions exactly, including ceiling clear height.
identify obstructions
Identify Obstructions
Make note of building columns, sprinkler systems, heaters, fans, offices, etc.
draw warehouse blueprint
Draw Warehouse Blueprint
Layout your design using software like AutoCAD, Draft sight, Smart draw, or good old pencil and grid paper.

Plan Your Workspace

Identify the key workspace areas for your operation. Allocate plenty of room for these areas and arrange them in a logical and efficient manner.
receiving and shipping areas
Receiving and Shipping Areas
Place shipping and receiving areas near loading dock doors and in separate locations if possible.
inventory storage areas
Inventory Storage Areas
Dedicate storage space for palletized and/or hand-stacked storage and FIFO vs. LIFO storage.
production and work areas
Production and Work Areas
Allot necessary space for the primary function of your warehouse operations: manufacturing, assembly, order fulfillment, etc.
Set tools and storage areas nearby work areas within reach, based on NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

Select Warehouse Equipment

What types of equipment are crucial to your operation’s success? For a complete list, see our Warehouse Equipment Checklist to make sure you have what you need.
storage equipment
Storage Equipment
Do you need pallet racks, shelving, cantilever racks, bins, baskets, hoppers, bulk boxes?
material handling equipment
Material Handling Equipment
Do you need conveyors, pallet jacks, lift equipment, carts, two-wheelers, rolling ladders?
packing and shipping equipment
Packing and Shipping Equipment
Do you need workstations, workbenches, scales, stretch wrapper, banding?

Plan Your Workflow

Based on your company’s most important workspace areas, arrange your warehouse equipment and traffic into an efficient flow for your employees.
aisle layout
Aisle Layout
Layout standard or narrow aisles based on your mobile equipment: pallet jacks, carts, forklifts, etc.
traffic flow
Traffic Flow
Do employees have work zones to stay out of each other’s way? Do you have one-way aisles?
storage areas for mobile equipment
Storage Areas for Mobile Equipment
Dedicate space to store your forklifts, pallet jacks, carts, rolling ladders, etc. when not in use.

Test Your Warehouse Setup

Once you have an idea and sketch of how you want your warehouse layout to work, test it out on your empty warehouse floor. Make adjustments as needed before you install and set up equipment.
tape the floor
Tape the Floor
In key areas, tape off the floor where you’re planning to place equipment and traffic flow patterns.
check the flow
Check the Flow
Walk the space like you’re on the job. Do you have plenty of clearance? Any congestion areas?
double check safety requirements
Double Check Safety Requirements per OSHA Standards
Confirm your new plan adheres to all OSHA and local safety, seismic, fire codes and ordinances.
After reviewing this warehouse startup checklist, make sure to complete the setup as a team! As you work on your mock-up, get feedback and share ideas. Ask your team members to walk through the warehouse setup and test it out. Get a feel for if the spacing, production zones and equipment will meet your needs. The nice thing about designing it on a computer, or grid paper, is you don’t need to commit to anything before you’re certain the warehouse layout will work! If you find yourself stuck on a warehouse layout design, Warehouse1 can provide custom warehouse designs for you.

By Gary Selvera On February 9, 2023


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