10 factors to consider in a brand-new warehouse fit-out project


A favourite type of project of ours is a complete, green field, turnkey, warehouse fit-out project. One where we’re the lead contractor, and where we can design and deliver the whole solution from the ground up.ITS-site-photo-103

That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the other types of projects such as refurbs and mezzanine floor installation. But there’s something very special about seeing a project through from start to finish.

One of the most important questions you can ask before you do anything is “Should we use a single solution provider?”

At first it may seem there are arguments for and against using a one-stop warehouse solution, but the basis in favour of it are very powerful. Before we go further, let’s have a look at the different elements commonly involved in a turnkey project.

How detailed should our warehouse planning be?

Like many projects, the secret to overall success lies in detailed planning that looks at and includes as many angles as possible. Only the most experienced of warehousing solution planning experts will be able to provide this.

For example, with so many aspects to think of in what will be a multi-dimensional project, you’ll need to consider not just the basic design of useable space with racking and mezzanine infrastructure. The need for office space, utility services, employee areas and, critically, the flow of goods all need detailed planning from the start.

Once you have a good brief in place, your plan can be brought to life using CAD modelling to show how the warehouse space would work and what it would look like.

Is our new warehouse scalable for future needs?

The size of your warehouse and how much racking you need to install will depend on your business plan and the extent to which you expect your company to grow.

Factoring in future expansion potential may be something you need to consider, as you don’t want to be having to move or extend the warehouse too soon and go through the whole planning process again.

What types of stock will we store and how will it move?

The type of products you manufacture or sell will determine several aspects of your warehouse design. Different kinds of stock type will flow in, through and out at different rates and require different handling – perhaps with needing specialised moving equipment. Do consider:

  • Positioning of inward and outbound doors
  • Type of racking
  • Aisle width and layout
  • Requirements for other warehouse equipment

Do we require a picking and packing area?

If you intend to operate a pick and pick operation the warehouse plan will need to include dedicated space for it.

Picking and packing requires not just square feet but also surface space, shelving and stock flow mechanisms to ensure that the operation carries on smoothly. If you intend to site the picking and packing area on a mezzanine, you’ll need to factor this into your design as well – see below.

What types of warehouse storage do we need?

The core aspect of warehouse storage is of course racking, and most racking systems are designed to accommodate pallets.

The types and formats of warehouse pallet racking are many, and sourcing the right kind for your specific requirement can be complex. So it’s important that this is considered at the outset of your warehouse fit-out project.

The issues of how to source the right kind of pallet racking are covered in our blog on how to select your pallet racking system.

Will we need a mezzanine floor now or in the future?

Whether or not you have need for a mezzanine floor will come down to the services you want to accommodate in the warehouse (such as pick and packing – see above), staff and business facilities such as meeting rooms, or the volume of additional storage space you want to squeeze out of the warehouse footprint.

Mezzanines can usually be retrofitted to warehouse owners who require extra space. But if you know there is going to be a requirement for a mezzanine say in 5 years, it’s worth making provision for it in the design of the warehouse so that when the time comes the new additional can be made quickly and efficiently.

What about electrical systems, heating, air conditioning and plumbing

In a turnkey warehouse design project, it’s ideal to be able to design in where the key power and utilities should be installed as part of the overall solution.

In this way, light sources can be positioned optimally to fit with the larger structures such as pallet racking, and any heating can take into account the goods inward/outward areas which may be left open to the elements for long periods of time.

Increasingly, use of natural light and green energy options such as LED lighting can also be factored in to reduce your carbon footprint.

Small operational power savings and economies may not seem critical at the outset of the project, particularly compared to the overall investment cost, but as the ongoing operational costs of running the warehouse start to kick in, they will be more important.

Can we include space for staff, office and administration facilities?

We mentioned these earlier, but if your warehouse is large enough to warrant its own canteen area, staff toilets and washroom areas, these are best designed into the solution from the start.

Staff facilities can be accommodated at mezzanine level if desired, or kept on the ground floor for ease of access.

The same applies to the office facilities such as meeting rooms and storage areas which must all be designed into the solution if the warehouse actually includes the office facilities within its solution remit.

What health and safety considerations do we need to make?

Your warehouse must, by law, comply with health and safety regulations.

One of the most important of these is fire safety and prevention measures, such as positioning of extinguishers and fire blankets, provision of fire doors and escapes, emergency lighting and clear signage.

If your provider is also designing, sourcing and installing your pallet racking for you, you should also be sure they are approved by the relevant industry bodies such as SEMA and SafeContractor and that they follow the latest PUWER guidelines.

Should we use a single source warehouse solution provider?

Whether or not you source your complete warehouse design and development project from a single solution provider or lots of smaller individual solutions may come down to your appetite for large project and infrastructure management.

It decision may also come down to overall cost, the convenience of outsourcing and the benefit of putting such a vital project into the hands of an acknowledged expert.

Clearly Acorn Warehouse Solutions is a single-source turnkey warehouse design and delivery expert – so our view is that the outsourced route works best.

The arguments for it include:

  • More cost effective:
  • Expert advice: Only warehouse solutions providers with the experience of many warehouse fit out projects will be able to offer you the expert advice you need across the many aspects of warehouse solution design.
  • Less pain: Few companies have the internal capabilities to bring all the strands of a warehouse plan together and then to deliver the project on time and on budget. So it’s worth outsourcing the stress and hassle to an experienced warehouse solutions expert.
  • Fewer suppliers: The fewer suppliers you deal with, the simpler your purchasing processes become – dealing with a single supplier keeps things simple.
  • Fewer purchase orders: There’s less financial paperwork involved in sourcing from a single suppliers. With a single supplier the number of purchase orders and invoices is kept to a minimum – making it easier for the accounts team.
  • Higher quality management: A single-source provider takes responsibility for managing the full delivery of your project so you don’t have to face the very time consuming task of checking all the tiny details.
  • Better service: Any supplier managing a single project has a lot to lose if the project goes wrong. So it follows that the level of service they provide should be top class.

Ready to make the first move towards your turnkey warehouse design project?

Contact Acorn Warehouse Solutions on 01799 532024 or email admin@awsltd.biz for a free initial consultation or quote and we’ll give you an idea of what’s involved.