Warehouses, defined here, are facilities that provide a proper environment for the purpose of storing goods and materials that require protection from the elements. Warehouses must be designed to accommodate the loads of the materials to be stored, the associated handling equipment, the receiving and shipping operations and associated trucking, and the needs of the operating personnel. The design of the warehouse space should be planned to best accommodate business service requirements and the products to be stored/handled. The economics of modern commercial warehouses dictate that goods are processed in minimal turnaround time.
The different types of warehouses include:
- Heated and unheated general warehouses—provide space for bulk, rack, and bin storage, aisle space, receiving and shipping space, packing and crating space, and office and toilet space;
- Refrigerated warehouses—preserve the quality of perishable goods and general supply materials that require refrigeration. Includes freeze and chill space, processing facilities, and mechanical areas; and
- Controlled humidity (CH) warehouses—similar to general warehouses except that they are constructed with vapor barriers and contain humidity control equipment to maintain humidity at desired levels.
Special-designed warehouses meeting strict requirements can also provide liquid storage (fuel and nonpropellants), flammable and combustible storage, radioactive material storage, hazardous chemical storage, and ammunition storage.
Features already now common in warehouse designs are higher bays, sophisticated materials-handling equipment, broadband connectivity access, and more distribution networks. A wide range of storage alternatives, picking alternatives, material handling equipment and software exist to meet the physical and operational requirements of the warehouse. Warehouse spaces must also be flexible to accommodate future operations and storage needs as well as mission changes.