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Workshop: Understanding the distribution center layout

Your warehouse or distribution center layout greatly affects the performance of

your business. In fact, without a properly configured warehouse layout, you could
face capacity issues and even a decrease in productivity.
Complete the following activities in order to understand the importance of the
layout when designing a Distribution Center or warehouse.

1. Getting familiar with Distribution Centers

a. Read the following description of a Distribution Center and complete it with

the words from the box.


All distribution centers have three

main areas and may have
additional specialized areas. The
three main areas are the
receiving dock, also called loading
dock, the storage area or cargo
deck, and the shipping dock.
In small organizations it is possible
for the receiving and shipping
functions to occur side by side, but
in large centers, separating these
areas simplifies the process.
b. Read and match. Read the definition for each of the areas that a distribution
center may include and match the definition with the name of such area.
1. LOADING DOCK 2 A. This area controls and ships large. This
department usually includes forklift truck
drivers to load containers and wagons,
and man-up or combi forklift trucks to
unload full pallets from warehouse
2. BULK DEPARTMENT 5 B. This department controls orders which
are leaving the country of the
distribution center. This department is
almost identical in function to a bulk
department; however, workers in this
department build pallets conforming to
different standards and sizes.
3. QUALITY ASSURANCE 7 C. This area is in charge of replenishing
DEPARTMENT and storing goods in the store's
backroom or warehouse.
4. TRANSPORTATION 6 D. An area reserved for inventory that is
AREA ready for final assembly or transport.
5. EXPORT DEAPARTMENT 8 E. There are many types of this racking.
However, all types allow for
the storage of palletized materials in
horizontal rows with multiple levels.
6. STAGING LOCATION 1 F. This is an area of the warehouse where
goods vehicles (usually road or rail) are
loaded and unloaded. This area usually
includes pallet wrapping workers,
conveyor belt unloaders, forklift drivers,
and administrative staff
7. STOCKING 4 G. Arranges and coordinates shipments in
DEPARTMENT and out of the distribution center.
8. PALLET RACKING 3 H. This department performs periodic
checks of random samples of stock to
check quality, including from the
warehouse racking, goods in, and
returned stock.
2. Describing a Distribution Center

Following, you’ll see the very basic design of any Distribution Center. Check the image and
answer the questions:

Fuente: SENA
A) According to the image, complete the following paragraph by selecting the
best preposition for each case.
While creating a layout for your warehouse or distribution center can
be considered a big task, it doesn't have to be complicated. The
following tips can help you navigate the process of laying out your
warehouse and make the most out of your space.

1. Make sure you have enough pallets to store all your goods
on them.
2. Organize your pallets evenly in specific racks in such way
that it is easy for the machinery –forklifts- to access them.
3. There should be enough space for your equipment or
machinery to move through the warehouse.
4. The machinery or equipment station must be far the shipping
and receiving area in order to load and unload freight trucks.
5. The offices must be located in front of the warehouse
racking for you to supervise the activity within the warehouse.

Let’s check another example of a distribution center. Pay attention to the different
areas within this distribution center and answer the questions below:
B) Write sentences to describe the previous distribution center. Do not forget to
use prepositions to describe their location. Check the example:

Where is the…? Answer

- Loading area The loading area is located next to the
- Value added services area The Value added services area is in front
of the line loading
- Inventory control area The Inventory control area is next to
- Quality auditing area Quality auditing area is within Inventory
control area
- Order packing area The Order packing area is Opposite the
- Refrigerated specialty The Refrigerated specialty products area is
products area Among the Value added services area and
high value products area
- Put-to-store area The Put-to-store area is next to reverse

3. Critical thinking – Making decisions

A) Pros and Cons. Read the following statements about Distribution Center
Design and decide in your agree or disagree with the statement. Do some
research on the topic and provide pros and cons for each statement.

Check the example:

Your opinion:
I disagree. I think Distribution
Centers must have a specific
design that helps the regular non-
changing flow of goods.
The layout in your warehouse must
be flexible PROS:
-With flexible Distribution
Centers you can ensure your
facilities are ready for anything that
comes in the future.
-Flexible Distribution Centers tends
to be more disorganized. It is hard
to keep control of the changes.
Save space: cram as many pallet Your opinion: I agree As long as it does
racks into your warehouse as not harm the normal development of
possible machinery and personnel.
PROS: helps to take more advantage of
the distribution center
CONS: hinders good management within

Having an aisle map will help you Your opinion: It is perfect to locate,
validate that the correct item is in verify and load the desired item efficiently
the assigned location. PROS: The aisle maps not only facilitates
the location of the article, but also to
propose ideas for a new organization
CONS: can hinder the good work of the
staff, since it will be attached to a map and
not to your experience
Provide for the level of Your opinion The person in charge must
automation that can be cost- study the areas that need this process in a
justified based on your particular more relevant way
operation and cost structure. PROS: Improves the flow of processes
and reduction of steps to perform a task
CONS: Care must be taken to find the
practical way, it can lead to capital

4. Sharing your opinion

It is time to share your opinions about distribution centers design. Study the
complementary material “Expressions for Discussion and Debate” and get ready
for your Blackboard Collaborate session.

Study the following video to have a successful participation in your debate session.
Pay attention to pronunciation and the different expressions to participate in a
discussion How to discuss a topic in a group: