Warehouse Retrofit – The Ins and Outs of Warehouse Expansion

Warehouse Retrofit

As the consumer-driven economy continues to boom into 2019, and the demand for products with timely delivery increases, it’s common to find situations in your warehouse where space becomes limited. Even with effective facility planning, and the use of space-maximizing solutions like mezzanine systems or properly fitted storage racks, you can find yourself running out of space needed to run your operation smoothly. The dilemma and question then comes to mind, should you look into moving your operation to a new facility? Or is it possible to take the same space you have, and make it become more useable with a warehouse retrofit for the increased demands to move more product quickly? These options require careful consideration and planning.

The case for building a new facility

Assessing the growth of your operation brings the attractive option to look for a new property to build your warehouse facility to meet your needs. Considering the use and implementation of modern technology, automation, and amenities, this may seem like the only logical choice. The costs involved in this option need to be carefully weighed, however, in tandem with your overall existing and forecasted goals. Although constructing a new building offers all the benefits of working with a clean slate, and gives you the opportunity to form a new plan that aligns with your productivity, it is not always the right move to take financially.

Another point to consider that goes beyond just the cost involved in building is the availability of industrial property. According to CBRE, as recently as late 2018, the availability rate for industrial property has declined for 33 consecutive quarters. High demand for warehouses and distribution centers remains driven by  an era of e-commerce and the general, relative strength of the nation’s economy. This high demand is not expected to end any time soon, but to actually increase as we move into the 2020’s. Also, in today’s environment you are looking at increased costs to acquire a new facility since high demand and low supply will follow the economic formula that drives costs upwards.

The case for a warehouse retrofit

If you decide that building a new facility to meet the capacity needs of your operation is not feasible, based on cost, goals, or availability of land, then your best bet is retrofitting your current warehouse building. This sounds like a fancy term, but all we are talking about here is taking your existing space, and replanning the logistical flow and layout.

The first step to modernizing your warehouse with a retrofit starts with bringing in new and modern technology. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) can be invaluable to your operation when considering things like inventory management, picking processes and auditing. These systems are responsible for helping to plan the flow of product through the warehouse by controlling and administering key processes.

There are many WMS applications on the market today, so choosing the right one to fit your needs should not be an overwhelming task. What you are looking for is a WMS that best aligns with your goals and logistical processes. The best way to do this is by comparing the features of some of the most popular systems out there, and weigh in its cost and implementation.

Once you have a WMS in place, you can then begin to look at automated material handling equipment such as custom conveyor systems, robotics, or a restructure of your facility layout by planning the use of mezzanines or better storage systems. The key here is that you must first get your WMS up and running first, then look at your options for optimum layout of space and the physical movement of product.

Retrofitting your warehouse is typically the preferred choice among a large number of distributors, and certainly for those who own their buildings. Although the warehouses may be older, ownership brings an equity position that makes it more difficult to move on from an older building you already own.

If you are considering the possibilities of buying a new warehouse building or performing a retrofit planning process, its always wise to seek the advice and consultation of industry professionals. Culver Equipment, LLC specializes in warehouse planning and design, and can help answer your questions to come up with a viable expansion strategy for you. Please contact one of our professionals for more information, or call us today at 480-855-0088.


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