One of the most exciting events in a company's history is the opening of a new distribution center or the expansion of an existing facility. The design and layout of a new distribution center or facility expansion is crucial to establishing the most efficient use of space at the lowest possible operating cost. These projects involve significant capital investment, risk and coordination and integration of suppliers and technologies. For these reasons, many firms turn to KOM International's experience in distribution center design and implementation.
KOM International has the proven experience of designing dozens of new distribution centers and facility expansions each year. Only KOM has the unbiased ability to compare alternative layouts and processes, materials handling systems and technologies to design a facility that is tailored to your specific business and customer needs. This is why many of today's largest and most complex distribution centers throughout North America have been designed and implemented by KOM International.
Unlike other consulting firms, KOM International gets involved in all aspects of implementing a distribution center or facility expansion to ensure the success of the project.
KOM International will work with your management team and suppliers to develop and evaluate:
Companies hire KOM to manage projects in new distribution center design and facility expansion for the following benefits:
Facility sizing is the process of defining the length, width, height and shape of a new distribution center or facility expansion. To ensure maximum flexibility for future layout changes, building columns should be spaced apart by specific distances. To reduce construction costs, building height should be taken advantage of as much as possible. To ensure long-term flexibility, docks and building service areas (e.g. battery charging) should be sized and located appropriately. These and many other important decisions will determine the ultimate success and efficiency of the distribution operation.
Distribution centers can be designed based on conventional, mechanized (i.e. conveyors) and automated materials handling systems (MHS). The choice of MHS to be used depends on the type of operation being deployed. Regardless of the nature of the operation, there is always an economical tradeoff between depreciation expense and labor expense and the sum of these needs to be evaluated before making decisions on which MHS to procure.
KOM has designed and implemented distribution facilities that range from conventional operations to mechanized and highly automated operations that include the use of conveyor systems, pick-to-lite, carousels, automated picking systems such as A-frames, Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), cranes and robotics, and automated palletizers.
A conceptual AutoCAD plant layout is an important first step to visualizing the planned new distribution center or facility expansion. Using your company's detailed operations data, KOM International develops alternative layouts and materials handling systems to reflect your projected business and customer service requirements.
KOM International provides extensive experience in the development of specifications for permitting, contractor bidding and implementation of renovation work. The services provided include:
The most common complaint that distribution managers have is that their dock is too small. Undersized docks are a major contributor to poor labor productivity due to increased aisle congestion and inability to access merchandise efficiently. For these reasons, the sizing and layout of the distribution center dock(s) is one of the most critical success factors of any facility. Today, many companies are allowing dock depths of 100 feet or more to provide adequate space to unload truckloads, sort and segregate products and provide rapid product removal from the dock. This is especially relevant in distribution operations that receive imported container loads from overseas.
An important aspect of designing a new building is the orientation of the building structure on the new site. KOM International develops master site plans that take into consideration traffic patterns, surrounding road networks, single or multi-dock facility layouts, water retention ponds, local zoning restrictions, and other criteria that impact the site plan.
To design a new distribution center or facility expansion, it may be of value to conduct a business process reengineering pilot project to ensure that the facility design incorporates the needs for all required operations. This step is especially important if the new facility will be a first-time operation and there are no defined business processes to draw upon.
Conducting a business process review will minimize oversights that could have been avoided before the building is constructed. For example, specific operations such as vendor returns, customer returns, cross docking, and pre-staging of outbound orders may incur space requirements within the facility so it is best to identify these right up front.
To design a new distribution center or facility expansion, it is essential to develop manpower and equipment requirements for each shift of operation. In most cases, moving to a new state-of-the-art facility will result in significantly different manpower requirements than current operations. In some instances, there may not even be a current operation in place so that labor productivity rates may be unknown.
KOM international's extensive experience in operations labor productivity benchmarking and industrial labor engineering standards enables our firm to quickly develop realistic and achievable labor requirements for new and reset facilities. The benefit is that a KOM International-designed distribution center will incorporate the appropriate requirements for battery charging stations, employee parking spots, offices, etc.
In many companies, the role of the distribution center / warehouse has evolved to include more value-added services such as delayed manufacturing, product localization, work orders, kitting, special packaging, labeling, retail price ticketing, customer-specific product customization, etc. These services need to be designed into the operation to ensure that they are managed as efficiently as possible. Dedicated work areas may be required to perform the services and it is important to consider these aspects within the design plans of the facility.
The design of any distribution facility requires an up front strategy that maps out process / procedure flows for each aspect of the operation. The most effective distribution facilities in operation today were designed after numerous options were evaluated to simulate the benefits of different process flows. For example, the use of labor saving techniques such as batch picking or cluster picking may influence the rack and aisle layout of a facility, especially if slow moving products are grouped together within a designated zone.
KOM International conducts extensive analysis of sales order history, item activity history, purchase order history, inventory history and actual operating processes before determining proposed alternatives to be evaluated. The optimal logistics strategy can then be defined with our client before the new distribution center layout options are developed.