Warehouse

Warehouse

Overview

A warehouse is a commercial building
Commercial building
A commercial building is a building that is used for commercial use. Types can include office buildings, warehouses, or retail . In urban locations, a commercial building often combines functions, such as an office on levels 2-10, with retail on floor 1...

 for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

 businesses, customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading dock
Loading dock
A loading dock is a recessed bay in a building or facility where trucks are loaded and unloaded. They are commonly found on commercial and industrial buildings, and warehouses in particular....

s to load and unload goods from trucks. Sometimes warehouses are designed for the loading and unloading of goods directly from railways, airport
Airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

s, or seaports.
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Encyclopedia

A warehouse is a commercial building
Commercial building
A commercial building is a building that is used for commercial use. Types can include office buildings, warehouses, or retail . In urban locations, a commercial building often combines functions, such as an office on levels 2-10, with retail on floor 1...

 for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

 businesses, customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading dock
Loading dock
A loading dock is a recessed bay in a building or facility where trucks are loaded and unloaded. They are commonly found on commercial and industrial buildings, and warehouses in particular....

s to load and unload goods from trucks. Sometimes warehouses are designed for the loading and unloading of goods directly from railways, airport
Airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

s, or seaports. They often have crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

s and forklift
Forklift truck
A forklift is a powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials. The modern forklift was developed in the 1920s by various companies including the transmission manufacturing company Clark and the hoist company Yale & Towne Manufacturing...

s for moving goods, which are usually placed on ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

 standard pallet
Pallet
A pallet , sometimes called a skid, is a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies...

s loaded into pallet rack
Pallet rack
Pallet racking, is a material handling storage aid system designed to store materials on pallets . Although there are many varieties of pallet racking, all types allow for the storage of palletized materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels...

s. Stored goods can include any raw materials, packing materials, spare parts, components, or finished goods associated with agriculture, manufacturing, or commerce.

Storage and Shipping systems


Some of the most common warehouse storage systems are:
  • Pallet rack
    Pallet rack
    Pallet racking, is a material handling storage aid system designed to store materials on pallets . Although there are many varieties of pallet racking, all types allow for the storage of palletized materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels...

     including selective, drive-in, drive-thru, double-deep, pushback, and gravity flow
  • Mezzanine
    Mezzanine (architecture)
    In architecture, a mezzanine or entresol is an intermediate floor between main floors of a building, and therefore typically not counted among the overall floors of a building. Often, a mezzanine is low-ceilinged and projects in the form of a balcony. The term is also used for the lowest balcony in...

     including structural, roll formed, racks
  • Vertical Lift Modules
  • Horizontal Carousels
  • Vertical Carousels


A piece pick, also known as broken case pick, split-case pick, each pick, over-pack or pick/pack, is a type of order selection process where product is picked and handled in individual units and placed in an outer carton, tote or other container before shipping. Catalog companies and internet retailers are examples of predominantly piece-pick operations. Their customers rarely order in pallet or case quantities; instead, they typically order just one or two pieces of one or two items.

Material direction and tracking
Track & Trace
In distribution and logistics of many types of products, track and trace or tracking and tracing, concerns a process of determining the current and past locations of a unique item or property....

 in a warehouse can be coordinated by a Warehouse Management System
Warehouse management system
A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, putaway and picking...

 (WMS), a database
Database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

 driven computer program. Logistics
Logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 personnel use the WMS to improve warehouse efficiency by directing pathways and to maintain accurate inventory
Inventory
Inventory means a list compiled for some formal purpose, such as the details of an estate going to probate, or the contents of a house let furnished. This remains the prime meaning in British English...

 by recording warehouse transactions.

Automation and optimization


Some warehouses are completely automated
Automation
Automation is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization...

, and require only operators to work and handle all the task. Pallets and product move on a system of automated conveyors, cranes
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

 and automated storage and retrieval system
Automated Storage and Retrieval System
An automated storage and retrieval system consists of a variety of computer-controlled methods for automatically placing and retrieving loads from specific storage locations...

s coordinated by programmable logic controller
Programmable logic controller
A programmable logic controller or programmable controller is a digital computer used for automation of electromechanical processes, such as control of machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or light fixtures. PLCs are used in many industries and machines...

s and computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s running logistics automation
Logistics automation
Logistics automation is the application of computer software and/or automated machinery to improve the efficiency of logistics operations. Typically this refers to operations within a warehouse or distribution center, with broader tasks undertaken by supply chain management systems and enterprise...

 software. These systems are often installed in refrigerated
Refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. This work is traditionally done by mechanical work, but can also be done by magnetism, laser or other means...

 warehouses where temperatures are kept very cold to keep product from spoiling, especially in electronics warehouse where they require specific temperature to avoid damaging the parts, and also where land is expensive, as automated storage systems can use vertical space efficiently. These high-bay storage areas are often more than 10 meters (33 feet) high, with some over 20 meters (65 feet) high. Automated storage systems can be built up to 40m high.

For a warehouse to function efficiently, the facility must be properly slotted. Slotting addresses which storage medium a product is picked from (pallet rack
Pallet rack
Pallet racking, is a material handling storage aid system designed to store materials on pallets . Although there are many varieties of pallet racking, all types allow for the storage of palletized materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels...

 or carton flow
Carton flow
Carton flow is a form of shelving that uses a gravity feed rear load design. Each unit consists of one or more inclined runways.Merchandise is loaded in the rear of each runway...

), and how they are picked (pick-to-light, pick-to-voice
Voice Directed Warehousing
Voice-directed warehousing refers to the use of the voice direction and speech recognition software in warehouses and distribution centers...

, or pick-to-paper). With a proper slotting plan, a warehouse can improve its inventory rotation requirements—such as first in, first out (FIFO) and last in, first out (LIFO)
FIFO and LIFO accounting
FIFO and LIFO Methods are accounting techniques used in managing inventory and financial matters involving the amount of money a company has tied up within inventory of produced goods, raw materials, parts, components, or feed stocks....

—control labor costs and increase productivity.

Modern trends


Traditional warehousing has declined since the last decades of the 20th century, with the gradual introduction of Just In Time (JIT) techniques. The JIT system promotes product delivery directly from suppliers to consumer without the use of warehouses. However, with the gradual implementation of offshore outsourcing
Offshore outsourcing
Offshore outsourcing is the practice of hiring an external organization to perform some business functions in a country other than the one where the products or services are actually developed or manufactured. It can be contrasted with offshoring, in which the functions are performed in a foreign...

 and offshoring
Offshoring
Offshoring describes the relocation by a company of a business process from one country to another—typically an operational process, such as manufacturing, or supporting processes, such as accounting. Even state governments employ offshoring...

 in about the same time period, the distance between the manufacturer and the retailer (or the parts manufacturer and the industrial plant) grew considerably in many domains, necessitating at least one warehouse per country or per region in any typical supply chain
Supply chain
A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to...

 for a given range of products.

Recent retailing trends have led to the development of warehouse-style retail stores. These high-ceiling buildings display retail goods on tall, heavy duty industrial racks rather than conventional retail shelving. Typically, items ready for sale are on the bottom of the racks, and crated or palletized inventory is in the upper rack. Essentially, the same building serves as both warehouse and retail store.

Another trend relates to Vendor Managed Inventory
Vendor Managed Inventory
Vendor-managed inventory is a family of business models in which the buyer of a product provides certain information to a supplier of that product and the supplier takes full responsibility for maintaining an agreed inventory of the material, usually at the buyer's consumption location .A...

 (VMI). This gives the vendor the control to maintain the level of stock in the store. This method has its own issue that the vendor gains access to the warehouse.

Large exporters/manufacturers use warehouses as distribution points for developing retail outlets in a particular region or country. This concept reduces end cost to the consumer and enhances the production sale ratio.

Cool Warehouses/ Cold Storage


Cold storages preserve agricultural produce at low temperature. Refrigerated storage helps in eliminating sprouting
Sprouting
Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten either raw or cooked.They are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables for salads, or otherwise, in any season and can be germinated at home or produced industrially...

, rot
ROT
The aviation term ROT stands for rate one turn, also known as a standard rate turn. All aircraft must be able to perform a standard rate turn....

tage and tuber moth damage and in reducing weight loss of the agricultural produce. The edible products are generally not stored for more than one year. Several cold storage
Storage
Storage may refer to:-Storage of goods:* Warehouse, a commercial building for storage of goods* Self storage, public storage facility-Containers:* Dry cask storage, storing high-level radioactive waste* Food storage...

 store perishable products which require the storage temperature as low as -25°C.

Cold storage helps stabilize market price
Market price
In economics, market price is the economic price for which a good or service is offered in the marketplace. It is of interest mainly in the study of microeconomics...

s and evenly distribute goods both on demand basis and time basis. The farmers get opportunity of producing cash crops to get remunerative prices. The consumers get the supply of perishable commodities with lower fluctuation of prices.

Ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 and Freon compressors are commonly used in cold storage warehouses to maintain the temperature. Ammonia refrigerant is cheaper, easily available and has a high latent heat of evaporation but it is also highly toxic and can form an explosive mixture when mixed with oil containing high percentage of carbon. Insulation
Insulation
Insulation means:* Building insulation, added to buildings for comfort and energy efficiency* Soundproofing, also known as acoustic insulation, any means of reducing the intensity of sound...

 is also important, to reduce loss of cold and to keep different sections of the warehouse at different temperatures.

There are two main types of refrigderation system used in cold storage warehouses, a [Vapor absorption refrigeration|Vapour absorption system]] (VAS) and Vapour compression system
Vapor-compression refrigeration
Vapor-compression refrigeration is one of the many refrigeration cycles available for use. It has been and is the most widely used method for air-conditioning of large public buildings, offices, private residences, hotels, hospitals, theaters, restaurants and automobiles...

 (VCS). VAS, although comparatively costlier, is quite economical in operation and adequately compensates the higher initial investment.

The temperature necessary for preservation
Preservation
Preservation may refer to:* Heritage preservation:** Historic preservation, of buildings, monuments, etc.** Preservation , of books, recordings, etc.** Conservation , of the natural environment...

 depends on the storage time required and the type of product. In general, there are three groups of products, foods that are alive (e.g. fruits and vegetables), foods that are no longer alive and have been processed in some form (e.g. meat and fish products), and commodities that benefit from storage at controlled temperature (e.g. beer, tobacco).

Location is a very critical aspect for the success of cold storage. It should be in close proximity of growing area as well as market, be easily accessible for heavy vehicles, and have uninterrupted power supply.

Cold storage and the law


There are state and local laws which regulate the cold store industry, requiring safe working conditions for employees, and operational procedures must be in accordance with these laws. Those companies which do their homework and prepare in advance for inspections and other routine enforcement protocols will be able to continue operating at full capacity, ensuring greater customer service and more product flow seven days a week.

Internet impact


Internet-based stores do not require physical retail space, but still require warehouses to store goods. This kind of warehouse fills many small orders directly from end customers rather than fewer orders of many items from stores.

Having a large and complex supply chain
Supply chain
A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to...

 containing many warehouse can be costly. It may be beneficial for a company to have one large warehouse per continent, typically located centrally to transportation. At these continental hubs, goods may be customized for different countries. For example, goods get a price ticket in the language of the destination country. Small, in-warehouse adjustments to goods are called value added
Value added
In economics, the difference between the sale price and the production cost of a product is the value added per unit. Summing value added per unit over all units sold is total value added. Total value added is equivalent to Revenue less Outside Purchases...

 services.

See also

  • Automated storage and retrieval system
    Automated Storage and Retrieval System
    An automated storage and retrieval system consists of a variety of computer-controlled methods for automatically placing and retrieving loads from specific storage locations...

  • Document automation
    Document automation
    Document automation is the design of systems and workflow that assist in the creation of electronic documents. These include logic based systems that use segments of pre-existing text and/or data to assemble a new document. This process is increasingly used within certain industries to assemble...

     in supply chain management & logistics
  • Data warehouse
    Data warehouse
    In computing, a data warehouse is a database used for reporting and analysis. The data stored in the warehouse is uploaded from the operational systems. The data may pass through an operational data store for additional operations before it is used in the DW for reporting.A data warehouse...

  • Inventory
    Inventory
    Inventory means a list compiled for some formal purpose, such as the details of an estate going to probate, or the contents of a house let furnished. This remains the prime meaning in British English...

  • Inventory management software
    Inventory management software
    Inventory management software is a computer-based system for tracking product levels, orders, sales and deliveries. It can also be used in the manufacturing industry to create a work order, bill of materials and other production-related documents. Companies use inventory management software to...

  • Kiva Systems
    Kiva Systems
    Kiva Systems is a company that makes order fulfillment systems that use mobile robots for warehouse automation. Its material handling systems are used by Staples, Walgreens, GAP, Crate and Barrel, Toys "R" Us and Gilt Groupe, among others.-Overview:...

    —a manufacturer of robots for warehouse automation
  • Pick and pack
    Pick and Pack
    Pick and pack is a part of a complete supply chain management process that is commonly used in, but not limited to, the retail distribution of goods. It entails processing small to large quantities of product, often truck or train loads and disassembling them, picking the relevant product for each...

  • RFID
  • Shipping list
  • Voice Directed Warehousing
    Voice Directed Warehousing
    Voice-directed warehousing refers to the use of the voice direction and speech recognition software in warehouses and distribution centers...

  • Warehouse management system
    Warehouse management system
    A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a key part of the supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, putaway and picking...


Further reading

  • The Story of the Bale. Manchester: Lloyd's Packing Warehouses Ltd, Princess Street
    Princess Street, Manchester
    Princess Street is one of the main streets in Manchester City Centre, Greater Manchester, England. It begins at Cross Street and runs approximately eastwards across Mosley Street, Portland Street and Whitworth Street until the point where it continues as Brook Street and eventually joins the...

    , 1926