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Could You Park a Blimp in the Unused Space Above Your Dock Area? How to Take Advantage of Overhead Space in Your Distribution Center.

By Ian Hobkirk | 10/02/2018 | 1:41 PM

Six Ways to Postpone DC Expansion Part IV - Overhead Space DCV

This blog is the fourth in a series on distribution center capacity and space utilization.  So far, I’ve covered the concepts of slotting, optimizing storage depths and reducing aisle widths. In this post, I’ll look at how to take advantage of overhead dock space.

Even in highly-optimized distribution centers, overhead space in the dock area is often completely un-utilized. Since this is a high-traffic area, using overhead space requires creative thinking. Some ways that companies have found to take advantage of this space include:

  • Storing empty pallets or consumable supplies over dock doors. Pallet racking can be used to bridge over dock doors and create single-deep storage areas. While only a small percentage of the dock area can be reclaimed in this way, valuable space in the main pallet rack area can be freed up for storage of inventoried SKUs.
  • Build a mezzanine but be careful how it’s used. Mezzanines are poor places to store pallets – it can be hard to transport loads onto and off of the mezzanine, and lift trucks are generally impractical on a second level. Companies should focus on storing smaller parts here or performing labor intense manual operations in these areas. Good uses for mezzanines include:
    • Small parts storage on shelves or carousels
    • Packing and shipping areas for small parts (work benches, case sealers, etc.)
    • Value-added service centers for small parts (kitting, ticketing, labeling, etc.)

When designing a mezzanine, be sure to position the support columns in areas where they are less likely to cause lift truck collisions, and be sure to allow an easy means of transporting goods up and down from the mezzanine.

The next blog in the series will dive into the advanced topic of AS/RS systems. I’ll lay out an objective perspective on their benefits, costs and risks. Can’t wait? Read the Whitepaper: Six Ways to Postpone -Or Avoid- DC Expansion or watch the recorded webinar.



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About Ian Hobkirk

Ian Hobkirk

Ian Hobkirk is the founder and Managing Director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors. Over his 20-year career, he has helped hundreds of companies reduce their distribution labor costs, improve space utilization, and meet their customer service objectives. He has formed supply chain consulting organizations for two different systems integration firms, and managed the supply chain execution practice at The AberdeenGroup, a leading technology analyst firm.


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