An important trend in modern warehouse and distribution centers is the use of speed bays. Otherwise known as high-speed bays or fast-pick bays, a speed bay is an open area in your warehouse between the dock doors and the official racking/shelving of the warehouse. This area’s size is not standard, but it depends upon the warehouse size, ceiling height, and setup. Generally, the speed bay area is between 50 and 70 feet from the dock doors to the columns of the warehouse racking.
How do speed bays work? The purpose of a speed bay is to increase the warehouse’s efficiency and productivity by providing room to stage products for loading and unloading. This area is not incumbered by long term racking of the warehouse and can allow a company to pre-stage a truckload of products before the driver gets to the loading dock. For some companies, this means storing common items that ship on every delivery that leaves the building. This can reduce the need for workers, or systems, to pick from long-term storage of the main warehouse. Packing commonly used items directly in the speed bay area can increase the throughput of trucks leaving your warehouse. Overall, this space allows the workers and equipment to effectively load or unload products based upon which methods makes your process efficient. The process, equipment, and space use will look different for each company.
Are speed bays just space? It can be… but in more automated environments companies are using the speed bay to incorporate automated systems for unloading products, automatically store products, and even disposal of cardboard or packing material with little or no human intervention. With the use of technology, like RFID tagging and robotics, items can be automatically stored and/or retrieved from the warehouse’s racking. This means some companies reduce forklift and manual movement in the aisle of their warehouse. The automation can increase worker safety, reduce waste from spillage, and decrease incorrect counting. Ultimately this means better efficiency in the logistic supply chain.
While the process, equipment, and styling may look different in each warehouse installation, the common attribute that provides this opportunity is the speed bay. The area between the loading dock doors and the warehouse rack. This area is now emphasized in most modern warehouse planning, just like clear ceiling height, truck parking, and overhead light spacing.
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