Storage - Guidelines for Space Utilization


Storage – Guidelines for Space Utilization


Some of the information in this article was excerpted from the PIOC Webinar on Storage, May 20, 2008.


Storage is one of the major facets of Program Operations, and the way in which it is managed will impact the effectiveness of the program.


Some of the major issues related to storage actually begin with the donation or acquisition process. As part of the donation process, policies should have been developed to identify types of equipment that would be accepted and items that would not be accepted. Prohibited devices should be explicitly identified. Procedures should be in place for acceptance of donations, and for explaining and politely refusing unacceptable devices.


Repairing, refurbishing and sanitizing previously used devices are part of program operations. These activities may be considered jointly with storage because the work areas, storage of cleaning supplies and storage of spare parts relate to the storage of the devices.


Inventory management is a key, but separate, program operations concern.


Designing the Storage Area


The storage area should have a proper location that is convenient, has ease of access for unloading, retrieval and loading, and adequate space for spare parts, repairs, sanitizing and storage. Appropriate storage facilities can improve turnaround time and increase effectiveness.


Laying out the storage area for increased effectiveness frequently means giving up storage space.  Ease of access may be a trade-off for floor space. That means more creativity may be required in the use of vertical space and in the type of storage devices, containers and organization schemes that are used. It may also require investment in mechanical devices to assist in the retrieval of objects. Those devices could be anything from safety ladders (or steps) to hydraulic lifts.


Determining Space Needs for Items


Before storage can be designed for faster product flow, it may be wise to reduce the number of items in storage to free up space. This should prompt a review of the types of items accepted and the types of devices actually distributed or requested frequently by users. A review of the records for this type of information will be useful in designing the storage space. A determination will need to be made for each type of device to be stored. How will it be stored? How much space will be needed? How can the storage be optimized? Does the device lend itself to vertical storage? If so, how can it be easily retrieved?


A worksheet approach may be helpful to determine appropriate storage solutions for different items. [See the attached file, Device Storage Needs.]


The storage plan should consider the optimum use of vertical space. What kinds of shelving or holding devices are needed to take advantage of vertical storage?


Determining Space Needs for Activities


After analyzing space needs by type of device, it will be helpful to create a “process map” or “workflow” for the intake, repair/refurbishing and sanitization of equipment. An efficient workplace minimizes the number of steps taken by employees, the amount of handling required and the distance that an item moves during a process.


Map the workflow of each device from acceptance to storage. Group items that have identical or similar workflows and attempt to reduce the number of different workflows. When the minimum number has been determined, identify the size and types of work areas that will be required.

This will require identifying the working surface requirement: Is it floor space or bench/ table space? What type of power, lighting and water is required? Must space be allowed for special machines to be used in conjunction with the process? For example, should space be allowed for vacuum cleaners or steamers, power tools or computers?


How much space should be provided for storage of cleaners and chemicals? What about spare parts? How many will be used in a year? How will they be organized?


What provisions should be made for the health and safety of the workers in the area? Do they need space for special access? Must the space have special equipment to comply with OSHA regulations (eyewash station, for example)?


Determine the space required for all of these special needs. [See attached worksheet, Analysis of Space Needs.]



Making the Storage Area More Efficient


Start by examining inventory profiles and removing obsolete stock.

Consider transferring or cleaning out slow moving equipment. Avoid placing equipment in areas where it could obstruct movement. Once the fast-moving items have been identified, the layout considerations for the storage space can be examined.


Tracking and physical inventory may be simplified with the use of simple automation such as bar code technology.



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.


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Title: Storage - Guidelines for Space Utilization
Module: Program Operations
Audience: Implementer
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Organization Source: PASS IT ON CENTER
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 5:02 PM