Warehouse Reconfigure: Part One

We run a very popular program called “Direct from Warehouse”. The nature of this DFW program is simple and rather unique. If you, the customer, would rather have us receive your material into our building, versus having it delivered directly to the jobsite, we can.

You no longer have to worry about sending a crew onsite to unload your order within the standard 24 hour notice a freight carrier gives. A single call to Paramont EO is all it takes to order and schedule your material to arrive exactly when and where you want it. Long gone are the days when you would have to track down the plumber that signed for your direct freight material. You can rest assured that your goods were received by the PEO/Crest team. Damaged in transit?  Don’t worry about calling the trucking company, we will handle that.

If you want your order split-released, broken down by floor, or room, or even just someone to draw giant smiley faces all over the skids–we can do that. This service is just another offering that makes Paramont EO / Crest Lighting so unique. Not many of our competitors have the facility or manpower required to pull off such a feat in bulk. But we do! Or so we thought. The problem with any popular program is managing your resources to make it a success.

So what happens when your nearly 80,000 SQFT warehouse is no longer enough? As Vince Lombardi famously said “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Moving into a larger building is not an option currently. When we launched our Woodridge IL Super Center just over 2 years ago, uniquely one of the largest Electrical only Supply Houses in the Midwest, we never thought this day would come. But as the company continues to grow each year we had to get creative.

So we started with a simple concept. How much can we do with the parts we currently have on hand? Once we measured and laid out a plan on paper it looked like we could gain roughly 4,000 SQFT by simply reshuffling the deck. And since we will be building up, that’s almost 12,000 Cubic feet of extra space. It looked right on paper, so we moved to a soft layout. Basically what that means is we taped off the floor to mimic the new layout. Watched our order fillers flow in and out of these “phantom” areas to make sure we would not lose any speed or accuracy in our order pulling. After a week of surveillance we had confidence that the new layout would be successful.

Looming in the background of the above image you will see a series of skid racks while smaller blue shelving is seen in the foreground. The only way we could secure more room is to build up. These little 7’ shelves are great for smaller white goods. No need for a forklift or ladder to fill every day material. So they still make up a very vital part of our operation. But their current configuration was lacking. And the layout just took up too much space.

Removing product and breaking down each individual bay would just be too time consuming.  So we opted for the Dr. Doolittle “push-me pull-me” method. A couple of forklifts, some straps and chains along with half a dozen men and we were able to slide our shelving along a dead wall.

No doubt the physical labor required to move shelving holds its own inherent costs, but the hours needed to manually relocate all of that material would take days to complete in our computer system.  You can’t merge six aisles of shelving into just two consecutive rows without relabeling your inventory locations. Or can you?

We needed a creative solution and found one–we ended up leaving a three foot break-way in between relocated aisles. This allowed our order fillers short cuts and it also enabled us to “cheat” and still leave our A-Z inventory location index intact. No need to re-BIN locate any material.

With just a couple sections of dead shelving left to remove we could see the new area start to take shape. In the above image you can see the new skid rack area “Soft Layout” outlined in white tape on the floor. This was part of our phantom picking test run. It also served as a visual indicator for the tear down and relocate of the short blue shelves.

And that’s a wrap on phase one of our expansion plans. Next week we will layout the new racking build as well as the finished space.

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

Kevin Reed

Director of Purchasing and Warehouse Operations