Warehouse Space Optimization Techniques: Tactics That Work

Author Charlie Cutler Read bio
Tags: warehouse
Date: November 25, 2021

Every company faces unique situations when considering its warehouse storage and design options. Some of the most common is moving the business to a different location or adapting the existing space to suit the needs of the business.

Even though companies face a variety of unique situations, the same challenge exists for all of them looking to bulk up their warehouse spaces – implementing physical and operational changes without affecting the customer

Typically, in warehouses and distribution centers, facility changes come down to different types of storage solutions for product handling, manipulation, or picking.

The most common types of storage solutions

One of the first steps that must be taken in order to craft a warehouse that’s functional and organized is to select your storage system (or systems). 

Naturally, this is not a choice that should be taken lightly; warehouse storage systems are a major capital investment that, depending on the design and the way they fit into your warehouse floor plan and processes, can either help or hurt your throughput.

Even if your facility operates well, you can always improve, especially if you have aspirations of growth and warehouse space optimization. By implementing these ideas, you can make the most of the space you have.

Bulk Storage – Low Cost And Perfect For Non-Sensitive Goods

Ideally, the storage systems would be identified and designed prior to the selection or building design, however, this isn’t always possible

Bulk storage is also known as “floor stacked” and is the most basic form of warehouse storage. It consists of no physical storage system other than the building’s square footage. 

Products are stored directly on the warehouse floor and are typically arranged several pallets deep and are possibly stacked depending on the type of product.

Bear in mind that storage system options usually depend on environmental factors like airflow, humidity, etc.

If you keep these tips in mind, it will be much easier to get a facility that meets your unique needs and maximizes space and efficiency

A man pushing strollers through a spacious warehouse

And the downsides?

Well, some challenges with this type of warehouse space optimization are:

  1. Low space utilization (60-70%) since vertical space is not effectively used 
  2. Increased possibility for product damage due to stacking
  3. Inefficient product location and picking due to cumbersome product access and poor product location identification.

Pallet Rack – Often Used In The Grocery Industry

Pallet racking consists of a set of upright frames connected in various ways by horizontal beams to provide storage for the palletized or non-palletized products depending on the rack configuration and beam supports used. 

There are five basic types of pallet racks:

  • Drive-In
  • Drive-Thru
  • Selective
  • Pallet Flow
  • Pushback
  • Cantilever

This type of storage is well suited for refrigerator or freezer environments where square footage costs are significantly higher. This is why this type of pallet storage is often used in the grocery industry.

Some of the downsides?

  1. It requires highly skilled forklift drivers
  2. High-quality pallets, usually of specific design and size
  3. Increased potential for injury and damage (due to forklift contact)


Much like pallet racking, shelving is made up of upright frames, but instead of being connected by horizontal beams, they are connected by shelves

These are typically used for lighter, smaller items (when pallets are not required). There are two ways you can implement shelves in your warehouse space optimization plan:

  1. Using Wide Span Shelving – A lighter-duty version of a standard pallet rack ideal for cartons, hand stacked storage, bin or tote storage, etc.
  2. Industrial shelving – 300 to 1,000 pounds per shelf, incorporating dividers, drawers, and many other accessories that augment the storage system of a warehouse

An organized warehouse space

Carton Flow

Carton flow is a form of shelving that uses a gravity feed rear-load design. This storage system helps to keep the product more organized because it is automatically rotated.

This carton flow consists of a frame or shelf assembly, wheel tracks or rails, and dividers, which are most likely full length and adjustable.

The size, weight, and consistency of your merchandise will determine which type of carton flow is best for your application. The main options are:

  1. Wheel Track Carton Flow  – with wheel tracks and dividers adjustable to modify the carton flow as your product mix changes
  2. Full-Width Roller Carton Flow –  typically uses standard pallet rack beams for installation
  3. Skatewheel Carton Flow –  Blends the concepts of both full-width roller and wheel track into a fixed width

Optimize For Security

When planning for any of these different systems for warehouse space optimization, you need to ensure that whichever you choose, they fit well in the footprint of your facility. 

Oftentimes, building internals are overlooked in place of overall square footage. This can lead to a lot of underutilized space.

One of the most overlooked areas of warehouse layout is safety guarding. And the question isn’t if you are going to incur damage to your rack storage system – it’s when.

Almost every warehouse will experience some level of damage based on the level of complexity of the building and storage layout, the experience of lift drivers, aisle width, type of lift, type of product, etc.

A rigorous approach to warehouse space optimization ensures all operators are qualified to operate from their respective. 

By keeping these warehouse organization tips in mind, you can prevent damage to your racking and ensure that your warehouse is driving the success your business needs in order to stay relevant on the market.