Warehouse Move: 11 Planning Considerations

Recently we had to assist a company that was in the midst of a warehouse move, but had failed to properly plan. The facility and location was selected, and the new warehouse facility is located roughly 825 miles from their current DC. Along the way, they reaslized they had forgotten about many aspects.   What seems like a simple concept or moving from one facility to another can become a daunting task in a hurry. 

Another Idea: Read Key Warehouse Layout and Design Principles 

If you are considering a warehouse move, the following thoughts might help save some time and headaches during the move itself. 

  1. Make sure you have researched all of the applicable building codes for the area you are moving to. Determine what information and the level of detail that is required to obtain the necessary permits to outfit and occupy the warehouse.

  2. Most warehouses require some type of sprinkler protection. Investigate what the requirements are for the overall facility, mezzanine areas, pallet rack storage areas, and any other work areas in the warehouse. If changes are required, make sure there is adequate flow and pressure to meet the codes.  Meet with the local fire marshal well in advance and review your operations, the types of products, how high you will be stacking product, etc.

  3. Most areas have varying policies when it comes to determining when you can occupy the space. Some will allow the storage of materials and product as long as no order processing activity takes place; while others ban all storage or use of the space until all work is completed and permits issued.  

  4. One issue that seems to come up often is the need for routes of egress for emergency evacuation, if needed. Make sure the code requirements are understood and met when the warehouse layout is being developed.

  5. If you plan on staying in operation during the move, and most companies do, this presents significant issues to overcome. Make sure you get a realistic estimate of the amount of time required to move inventory and any equipment to be reused from the current warehouse.  Perform a time study to understand how long it takes to identify, count, tag and palletize products - this is usually underestimated by companies.  

  6. Take into consideration small issues such as purchase order information for product that is on the way to your warehouse during the move, changing the address for returns or trucking pickups, mailing address changes, etc. that can fall through the crack but cause major time consuming issues if not addressed.

  7. Since most people involved in the move will have full time jobs to do while moving, make sure you allocate enough management time to oversee the move on both ends.

  8. This is a good time to think about getting rid of aged or dead inventory and not move it to the new space. Allocate time and focus on doing this before the move.

  9. Decide whether you are going to try to take an inventory count while you move. Although this may sound like a good idea, since you will be handling the entire inventory, think twice before you try to take inventory on-the-fly. It will take a lot longer than you think and will slow down the move.

  10. It may cost you more to reuse all of your existing equipment and storage media in the new space (while staying in business during your move) rather than purchasing a segment of the total equipment required to get started in the new space. Look at the big picture and the feasibility of doing this before deciding.

  11. A safe planning bet is to double the time you think it will take, and then be pessimistic as to meeting that schedule. Things will go wrong and happen not as planned; so you might as well provide a buffer to take care of them. 

Having pointed out a few hurdles to get over during a move, a well thought out warehouse move plan and constant monitoring of progress against the plan will make the move go as efficiently as possible. Remember that many steps will be dependent on others being completed; so the sequence of steps as well as the completion of required steps has to be considered also.

Define the detailed steps to be performed in a master plan, assign accountabilities to those involved, and establish realistic timelines to complete the steps to make sure the move is completed as planned.

If you are considering a new warehouse location or need help in developing your own warehouse move plan, give us a call at (804) 740-8743.

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