We now have some degree of certainty surrounding Brexit, in that the UK has now officially left the EU as of 11pm on January 31, 2020. However, the actual terms of the deal are still to be decided, so many companies still faces months – if not years – of uncertainty.

Brexit will have a direct impact on the way you run and organise your warehouse so you need to be as prepared as possible. In this blog we are going to run through some of the things you can do to ensure your warehouse is ready as it can be for life outside of the EU.

Making the most of warehouse space

Even though efficiency is key to a successful warehouse, it is often the case that many facilities do not maximise the space available to them. This could be anything from aisles that cannot accommodate forklift trucks, to aisles that are too wide and lessen overall storage space.

In many cases it makes more sense to construct a smaller number of long rows across the length of the space, instead of building a large number of short rows across the width. Keep the shipping and receiving areas clearly separated from each other to reduce the likelihood of mix-ups and lessen the chance of developing a bottleneck effect.

A number of businesses have also begun stockpiling to avoid shortages occurring once the changes start to come into effect. Of course, this requires additional storage space, so if erecting a temporary warehouse is not an option, make use of the vertical space in your existing facility. Mezzanine flooring will help to maintain access to the inventory and ensure you fully maximise space.

Increase in port inspection demands

No-one is quite sure what sort of demands will be placed upon vehicles passing through Dover and French ports post-Brexit. One solution could be to create ‘temporary warehouses’ to deal with any extra burdens. This would remove the need to use costly 3rd party storage, while also ensuring you have a multi-purpose facility that can handle extra storage and a place to carry out inspections, along with HGV parking. If it becomes apparent over time that these are no long needed they can be dismantled and recycled. Alternatively, you could reorganise your existing warehouse to include inspection zones, ensuring you optimise space planning and product appraisal across the entire space.

Labour limitations

One of the main goals of the current government is to reduce the current levels of immigration coming into the country. This will affect the warehouse industry that largely depends on a low-skilled workforce to cover the basics of their operations. As result, companies may have to increase wages and working hour’s flexibility to bring UK workers back into the fold.

The use of automation in the warehouse will also prove to be a long-term and cost effective solution. That doesn’t have to be becoming a fully robotised facility similar to the likes of Amazon, but using things like pallet shuttles and dynamic racking systems to improve production flow. While  the initial cost may be prohibitive for some, the long-term savings could end up being far more beneficial to the business.

Integrate a WMS system

In order to be fully prepared for Brexit your facility must have a fully-functioning WMS system that can help you manage your stock efficiently. It is expected that there will be delays at port junctions and hold-ups at customs, which for companies delivering perishable items could prove problematic. A WMS system will ensure goods leave the warehouse promptly, while also helping to manage the picking and despatch earlier on in the chain.

Businesses that are stockpiling goods will also have to manage the extra costs that come with it, which a WMS system is able to help assess. Brexit could also have an impact on the reputation of some brands who may struggle to maintain current customer expectations due to a slower supply route to and from their usual suppliers on the continent.

Get an EORI number

In the latter part of last year, HMRC automatically issued over 80,000 UK businesses with their Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. While it may seem obvious to most companies transporting goods in and outside of the EU, there are still many who do not realise how important the EORI number is to avoid paying extra for the importing and exporting of goods.

Now that we have left the EU, all movements to and from countries in the union will be viewed as imports and exports. That means all goods being traded with the EU post-Brexit will have to include an EORI number. The number of applications received by HMRC was short of their expectations, which is why they issued such a large batch. However, there are will still be companies who are unaware of the need to have an EORI and its importance will be vital to the success of many EU trading firms.