A Guide To Warehouse Design After COVID-19
Important Design Considerations for Warehouses
The COVID-19 outbreak has meant many changes have had to be made so that things can be adapted to be in line with official guidelines. This most definitely extends to the workplace, including warehouse spaces, and as a result, warehouse design has had to be considered extra carefully.
Warehouse design and warehouse safety are always important so that businesses have the best possible space to increase productivity within their team while keeping them safe. However, due to COVID-19, it’s now more important than ever. Warehouse setups must be thought through so that the organisation has the best possible opportunities to manage risk and keep its staff and anyone who may come into contact with them as safe as possible.
It needs to be decided what’s essential to be on-site, what space would be required for what equipment, and if anything can be taken out of the equation where a safer equivalent can be used.
If a warehouse needs to be designed during this current climate then, of course, new considerations will need to be taken into account. For example, space is a key concern, in that there must be more of it readily available. This may mean there need to be more square feet per person to allow for social distancing and help avoid congestion in any given area.
Seating areas should be considered as key places to allow for space so that there is always enough room for people to sit apart from each other and adhere to social distancing. Of course, even more, care must be taken even more than usual regarding the hygiene of each area, so materials must be used that respond to cleaning solutions very well, for example, bathrooms can be built using anti-microbial building materials.
Another very important way that modern warehouse designers can adapt to the new regulations is by building with touchless technologies. Of course while all of the above is taken into account, a warehouse design still needs to be fit for purpose and maximises your available space.
In the interest of warehouse safety, the workplaces are being designed to allow for separate picking and packing zones, offering enough space in between each. Steps have been made to help prevent walking around the warehouse, and this is down to the adapted warehouse designs.
It’s recommended that consideration is made to divide each part of a warehouse into a particular zone, restricting workers to just a few aisles for picking, similarly, the same restricted space area should be considered for those packing. Further advice includes making sure that there is at least 6 feet of space between where the pickers drop off items and where the packers assemble orders.
If any staff, such as office staff, can work at home it’s recommended that they do so. Any staff working at home should still be monitored reasonably, for example, their well-being should be closely followed, and it’s beneficial to make sure they’re still connected with other members of staff and what is going on within the business. The idea is to plan for the absolute minimum necessary staff to be on-site that can still work safely and effectively.
Warehouse staff are encouraged to have their shifts structured so that there is lots of time to clean before the next shift workers arrive. In this time everything should be cleaned, and this includes all equipment such as any computerised handheld gadgets. Now, it’s more than possible that due to the enhanced cleaning procedure, order fulfilment times may slow down, this can be combated by hiring a third party cleaning service to take care of these essential duties.
As we can learn from the above a lot has had to change with the design and running of warehouses up and down the country. As well as what needs to be installed differently, we should also think about what is not 100% necessary to operate. For example, the use of vending machines could be ceased in break rooms, as could share equipment that is not essential such as kettles for tea and coffee. As new warehouses are set up and existing ones try to adapt to new challenges due to COVID-19, warehouse operations will be very different to how they once were, perhaps contributing to the idea of ‘The New Normal’.
To find out more about how to transform your warehouse design to combat COVID-19, get in touch today.
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