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How to increase warehouse capacity without expanding your footprint

Article by Megan Gee


The demand for warehouse space is outrunning supply. And alongside soaring rents, this lack of warehouse availability is yet another hurdle warehouse and logistics managers across the UK must find ways to tackle.

But how bad is the problem? And what is the solution?

Warehouse space availability in the UK – a 2022 study

Of course, some towns and cities in the UK are more affected than others when it comes to the availability of warehouse space. In a recent study, data from Rightmove was pulled for all the available warehouse properties (and the space available in square feet) currently on the market in the UK’s 50 biggest towns and cities. The results were then compared to the number of registered businesses in each location, establishing the amount of space available per registered business in each location.

The locations with the most warehouse space available

Blackpool – which has 516.46 sq. ft of available warehouse space per registered business – is the location with the most available warehouse space and therefore, the location least affected by the shortage of warehouse space.

Rank Location Available Space (sq ft) Registered business per location Sq ft of warehouse space per registered business available
1 Blackpool 2014185 3900 516.46
2 Sheffield 5689458 16345 348.09
3 Liverpool 3704306 14695 252.08
4 Warrington 2124607 9135 232.58
5 Gloucester 755335 3960 190.74

The locations with the least warehouse space available

Slough found its way at the bottom of the table with just 0.34 sq. ft of warehouse space available per registered business, making it the town with the biggest shortage of warehouse space available in the UK.

Rank Location Available Space (sq ft) Registered business per location Sq ft of warehouse space per registered business available
1 Slough 2296 6660 0.34
2 Cambridge 7143 5080 1.41
3 Huddersfield 26183 15740 1.66
4 Southend-on-Sea 16706 6995 2.39
5 Northampton 96114 38180 2.52

There’s no denying the commercial property market is a tough right now. And these insights show the difficulties businesses face when trying to source more warehouse space. And every warehouse operator or company leasing a warehouse space must try and do more with what exists.

Which leads us to the question…what is the solution that allows organisations to increase storage capacity, without increasing their warehouse footprint?

The answer is increased technology and automation. But the process must begin by warehouses first identifying what’s already costing them space. For example:

  • Unsuitable racking and unoptimized storage setups
  • Aisle and air space not being used effectively
  • No pallet racking or shelving systems taking things off the floor
  • No specified areas for good in and goods out or slow-moving stock

When these issues are recognised in their entirety, understanding the solution becomes much easier.

Three ways to save up to 30% more space in your warehouse

1. Downscale width and number of aisles

Reducing the number or width of aisles is maybe one of the most effective ways of reclaiming space within a facility. And with the support of robotic automation, walkway aisles between rows of shelving that exist only for staff can be considerably reduced. With aisles reduced and restricted for robots only, workers can operate more efficiently and productively from their own dedicated workstations.

2. Start utilising vertical space

The impact of using vertical storage space will of course be determined by your current storage clear height and stacking restrictions. However, if your warehouse contains empty air space, the CTU robot can handle multiple bins at the same time whilst reaching heights of up to 8 metres. For your business, that means simply utilising space that already exists.

3. Optimise your racking

Flexible racking can allow you to adopt different areas of the same section to accommodate various pallet and product sizes, so you don’t have uniformly large pallet racks with smaller pallets that result in unusable air space. Combined with technology that automates the optimisation of your storage, your warehouse can put ensure goods coming in are always stored in most space-saving efficient way.

Allowing your workforce to work alongside automated solutions will not only save space, but reduce order processing times, tighten stock control and improve the efficiency of picking and reduce process errors. All of this combined also means getting more orders out the door – another space saving solution.

The future of warehouse locations

By working smarter and unlocking the power of automated goods-to-person, material handling and production line solutions, warehouses find ways of achieving their goals without having to increase their warehouse footprint. Warehouses and logistic hubs with high levels of automation are only set to become smaller compared with their manual counterparts, giving them more location flexibility than ever.

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