Warehouse Design


Since a Warehouse is a strategic function and destination of a Supply chain, its design also plays an extremely important role.



The design aspect of a ware house needs to address the following :

Building Attributes :
A Warehouses should:

  • Be designed based on current and future needs.
  • Facilitate changes in business/agency growth, and size/population of office and warehouse spaces within the building. Warehouse space should be easily adapted to new functions such as office (on ground or upper levels), computer centers, or light industrial/fabrication.

  • Accommodate need for future loading docks, truck space, and car parking spaces if space configuration changes through effective site design.

  • Address material handling technologies and business practice, such as "just-in-time" storage, which have fundamentally changed operation of warehouses and distribution centers, and will continue to do so.

  • Include roof design with built-in extra structural capacity to handle addition of future rooftop equipment.

  • Be designed with fire protection capacity to accommodate storage of materials with a greater fire hazard, especially needed with high plastic product content or packaging, and plastic shrink-wrapped pallets.

  • Maximize utilization of space while providing adequate circulation paths for personnel and material handling equipment such as forklift trucks.

  • Use higher bays to take advantage of height allowances in the space.

  • Optimize layout and configuration for the warehouse operation, including efficient circulation and material handling and storage processes.

  • Relate interior and exterior receiving and shipping operations to the process flow of goods through the warehouse.

  • Receiving and shipping are best separated to avoid congestion at the loading dock areas in the building, and in the truck maneuvering areas.

  • Alternative material handling methods will determine other building aspects, such as aisle widths, lighting design, need for mezzanine space, fire protection, and egress design. Businesses will often use different methods of storage handling simultaneously for different products.


Durable/Functional :


  • Be planned to accommodate loads of stored materials as well as associated handling equipment.

  • Design of warehouses is to be based on the dead and live load requirements of the structure as it will be built. Snow, wind, and seismic loads shall be considered where they are applicable. Racking in seismic areas must be built stronger and be better braced.

  • Wind uplift can cause great damage to roofs and metal roof copings at the roof edge. Building codes recognize that wind velocity is greater across open areas, typical for warehouse zones.

  • Wind-driven rain can easily penetrate the vast surface areas of the warehouse walls. Design walls to permit any infiltrating water to evaporate harmlessly without collecting in the wall cavities or damaging stored product.

  • Proper floor types are an important consideration in the design. General warehouse space should be floored with a concrete slab to carry wheel loads and withstand the abrasion generated by the continual use of hard rubber and steel-wheeled forklift trucks. Consider adding hardeners and dustproofers to protect the concrete. Consider using epoxy coating on concrete floors near battery charging areas.

  • Floor flatness and levelness requirements are critical, especially for high ceilinged space and safe operation of high-lifting equipment.

  • Adequate space must be provided on-site for truck maneuvering, truck storage if the business owns a fleet, car parking for employees and future office space/population expansion (which might be driven by higher rent for center-city office space), and landscaped areas.

  • Be designed to ensure that no structural member will interfere with the spacing of rail car doors or truck berths at dock spaces. Dock heights on the truck side of the terminal should be approximately 4'-4" above the pavement, with appropriate ramps at each truck berth to bring the height of the truck bed in line with the dock height. Dock heights on the rail side of the terminal should be approximately 3'-9" above the top of the rail to ensure that the rail car floor is even with the dock floor. Dock widths and areas inside exterior doors leading to dock space must be planned for maneuverability of forklift trucks and other expected types of material handling equipment.

  • Dock heights on the truck side of the terminal should be approximately 4'-40" above the pavement, with appropriate ramps, scissor lifts, or dock levelers at each truck berth to safely bring the height of the truck bed in line with the dock height.

  • Tops of doors should be high enough to accommodate full height pallet handling from the highest trucks.

  • Dock heights on the rail side of the terminal should be approximately 3'-9" above the top of the rail to ensure that the rail car floor is even with the dock floor.

  • Dock widths and areas inside exterior doors leading to dock space must be planned for maneuverability of forklift trucks and other expected types of material handling equipment. Consider using a non-slip finish on the concrete floor near loading areas for safety.

Energy-Efficient :


  • Be designed with passive solar concepts, solar geometry, and building load requirements in mind.

  • Possess light colored roof to reflect a large percentage of solar radiation, reducing HVAC loads, and energy consumption. First cost is also reduced, due to the smaller plant size required. When a large roof area is anticipated, this effect can be significant, especially for temperature controlled warehouses. Greater heat reflection will increase worker productivity in the summer.

  • Be planned with interior dock space in colder climates to reduce energy consumption and provide more tolerable winter working conditions for dock workers.

  • Use ceiling mounted fans to reduce heat stratification and provide air movement, thus increasing worker comfort in both summer and winter. Mount fans above highest forklift level for worker safety.

  • Consider specifying white painted metal roof decking, thereby increasing ceiling surface reflectivity, lighting efficiency, and worker comfort without any added energy cost.

  • Use energy-efficient fixtures, systems, and appliances, e.g., motion sensor instant-on lighting systems, wherever feasible.
    Safety/Security of Personnel and Material

  • Address the traditional life-safety and health concerns common to all buildings, including measures to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses (work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD), trips, falls, etc.), ensure electrical safety, and eliminate exposure to hazardous materials. The following operations have historically contributed to significant numbers of warehouse injuries and are considered to be the most hazardous: docks, powered industrial trucks, conveyors, materials storage, manual lifting/handling, roof ladders and hatches, and charging stations. Other serious operational safety problems include inadequate fire safety provisions, improper blocking of exits and egress paths, chemical exposure, improper use of lockout procedures, lack of ergonomics, and failure to wear personal protective equipment.

  • Incorporate proper signage to clearly warn of hazards or to direct personnel to take precaution. The specific strategy for the warehouses signs must be determined early in the facility design process.

  • Possess non-slip surface treatments on floors subject to wetting, such as outdoor docks, to eliminate slips and falls to personnel.

  • Be designed with fire sprinkler systems engineered to cover the specific commodity classification in the specific storage configuration for the planned warehouse. The adequacy of the sprinkler system must be evaluated when changes occur that can increase the hazard classification, such as introducing a new product line, using a different packaging material, or changing from wood pallets to plastic pallets.

  • Include appropriate security systems incorporated into the overall warehouse design.

Health / Comfort :


  • Provide proper ventilation under all circumstances.

  • Provide local exhaust for restrooms, kitchens, janitor's closets, copy rooms, battery-charging areas, etc.

  • Consider installing CO2 sensors to provide real time monitoring of air quality.

  • Integrate daylighting with the electric lighting system.

  • Allow for natural lighting where possible. Provide lighting controls that turn off lights when sufficient daylight exists. Consider dimming controls that continuously adjust lighting levels to respond to daylight conditions.

  • Consider the different natural lighting designs for warehouses.

  • Minimize HVAC system noise in occupied space.

  • Use furnishings, chairs, and equipment that are ergonomically designed and approved for that use.

  • Design equipment and furnishings reflective of healthy work practices in an effort to eliminate repetitive motions as well as prevent strains and sprains.

  • Strive to create a 'sense of place' such that the warehouse has a unique character that engenders a sense of pride, purpose, and dedication for individual workers and the workplace community.



:Recommended for further readings on Supply Chain Management :


Check the following links too:



| Sitemap | Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | About us | Link with us | Contact us | Advertise |


Click here to Bookmark this site | Contact here for Business collaborations |

No part of this web site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical without permission in writing from the publisher