A New Idea in Warehouse Design: Fishbone Aisles
Russell Meller, a University of Arkansas engineering researcher, has created a more efficient design for warehouses and distribution centers. The design, which can be applied to an existing pallet rack system, is called “fishbone aisles.” The fishbone aisle design was inspired by the need for companies to store and distribute goods as quickly as possible, especially in an age where customers order items online and expect shipment immediately.
When studying existing warehouses, Meller—along with Auburn University’s Kevin Gue—found that traditional warehouse designs were hampering efficiency and productivity. In many warehouses, workers must travel long distances through indirect routes to get products from pallet racks. For example, workers often have to go up and down long aisles, with no way to cut through from one aisle to another.
While the typical parallel aisles of pallet rack do indeed maximize the storage capacity of their warehouse space, they also ignore the time it takes for a worker to travel from one row to another. How do you improve the existing system? According to Meller and Gue, fishbone aisles solve some problems.
To install fishbone aisles, you would cut two diagonal cross aisles through the entire warehouse space. When viewed from above, the diagonal aisles look like a “V” was cut into the warehouse, extending from top to bottom. In their tests, Meller and Gue found that fishbone aisles reduced picking costs more than 20 percent.
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