Inside Logistics

Selecting a storage solution

Six ways to reduce the risk

January 11, 2017
by David Baturin

Every decision made has an element of risk. While the nature of some choices means they will have more far-reaching consequences than others, risk is always present to some degree.

Your material handling system is an integral part of your business, and your choice of a strategic supply partner to provide one can impact your customers and reputation either positively or negatively.

So how can we mitigate the risks associated with selecting the right storage solutions partner? What attributes should be considered?

A focus on total accountability will allow you to choose a partner that can take full responsibility for the products and services they offer. Providing the right solution requires precision skills and teamwork to meet your specific requirements, as outlined in the diagram above.

David Baturin is Sales Manager - Ontario General Sales at Oakville, Ontario-based Konstant.

David Baturin is Sales Manager – Ontario General Sales at Oakville, Ontario-based Konstant.

Let’s explore in further detail the six key areas in delivering a successful solution.

Consult — It is the responsibility of the supplier to consult with you and your team in order to understand your business, challenges in storage and material handling, and current needs as well as what they want to achieve moving forward. The chosen partner will ask strategic questions that will help you think outside the box to discover the blend of storage systems that will suit the unique needs of your business.

Design and Engineer – A solid foundation of knowledge and skills are essential in order to manage the many facets of storage design. To begin with there are a myriad of choices facing you regarding storage design type, including selective, double-deep, drive-in, push-back, pallet-flow, carton-flow, pick modules, shelving, and automated systems, to name a few.

Designing the right storage solution focuses on warehouse space optimization to increase efficiencies—“Maximizing the Cube”. This will often require a mix of different storage types, so it is necessary to select a partner with the capabilities to cover all project types and sizes from small to large and complex.

Legislation governs the design and engineering of storage systems, beginning with the tedious and often challenging process of obtaining a building permit. Planning must be done with a clear understanding of the regulations that govern racking structures, including egress, seismic factors, fire safety and building codes.

Given the sheer number and complexity of these regulations, it is vital to partner with an organization that makes large investments in design and engineering infrastructure. This storage partner will be able to both navigate legislation while providing the optimum storage solution, allowing you to focus on your core business.

Manufacture and Distribution – Partnering with an organization that both designs and manufactures the product ensures accountability and minimizes risk. The vendor will have direct communication throughout the manufacturing process with the goal of providing quality products, services and value.

Service & Support – A customer-focused storage solutions partner will provide top-quality service from a project’s design concept, to manufacture, project management, installation and finally, follow-up locally, nationally and beyond. A knowledgeable and experienced sales team that provides service by investing in design, engineering and manufacturing support will be responsive to your needs throughout the process.

Standards Leadership – Is the supplier a member of the RMI (Rack Manufacturer’s Institute)? More importantly, are the products offered R–Mark Certified? This designation is given under license to those organizations that have met specific requirements. Selecting a partner who has these designations provides assurance of product quality.

Project Management – A good project management team must possess the expertise to manage the most complex projects, ensuring you receive what was promised. The right partner will consult with you to define project goals and objectives and then plan the resources required for the installation and successful completion of the project. Most importantly, the project management team will work closely with your team throughout to ensure your satisfaction.

The best warehouse solutions partner will possess the infrastructure that offers total accountability for the products and services provided. There will be no “broken links” in the chain.

Choosing a partner that is strong in all six of these categories will mitigate risk and set the foundation for a solution that best meets your requirements.