It’s not uncommon for delegates at our workshops and seminars to ask us to can share our ‘rules of thumb’ on warehouse design. Therefore, we thought we’d put them here in an article, so anyone can refer to them when necessary. We’ve also added a checklist of things to consider during the early stages of warehouse design.
Warehouse Design Rules of Thumb
- Ideal Land to Building ratio in lineal metres, 1.7:1–2:1
- Building aspect ratio, 1.7:1 – 2:1
- Ideal Warehouse Height at Springing Line 9.5-10.5 metres
- Pallet per Sq metre ratio 1 – 1.2 (with conventional storage racking)
- Truck turning space 30-40 metres
- 20 to 25% of the warehouse floor should be left for non-storage operations e.g., receiving, dispatching, staging.
Important Planning Points
- Always plan for driver-side reversing
- Do not compromise aisle space for the sake of a few extra storage bays
- Avoid funnels and bottlenecks
Of course, in a brief guide like this one, we can only share some basic tips for warehouse planning and design. But if you want some real help, you’ll find our warehouse design services are just what the DC Doctor ordered.
We can work with you on your premises, wherever you are located, or collaborate with you on a fully remote basis to ensure your warehouse is designed specifically to suit your business, not merely according to rules of thumb.
Checklist of Warehouse Design Considerations
- Requirements and specifications for loading docks
- MHE battery charging/changing stations (location and provision for ventilation)
- Building support columns should be spaced/located in a way that allows for optimal layout of storage media and aisles
- Number of warehouse doors/loading and unloading bays
- Location of offices and other non-storage space (canteen, restrooms, other)
- Ensure lighting will be adequate and ideally, environmentally friendly (LED, induction?), and low maintenance
- Minimisation of obstacles or areas creating bottlenecks in warehouse flow
- Minimisation of travel distances within the warehouse
- Fire prevention and firefighting equipment
- Adequate drainage should be designed into the warehouse site
- Low-maintenance warehouse roof design
- Heating, climate control, and insulation
- Radio frequency, LAN/WAN, or other communication/data-transfer infrastructure
- Storage areas for empty pallets
- Waste disposal solutions
- Security concerns, such as car parking, checkpoints, location of cameras
- Future plans for automation, expansion and/or a change in storage requirements
Need More Help with Warehouse Design and Planning?
I hope this information will help you in your warehouse planning. I’m sure if you have any other questions, one of our warehouse design specialists will be glad to help you. Please feel free to send us a message on our contact page and mention that you’d like to discuss warehouse design.
If your needs are more extensive, Logistics Bureau offers a full range of warehouse design consulting services. They include:
- Assistance with warehouse improvement
- Warehouse technology planning and selection
- Advice on equipment and assistance with selection and procurement
- Warehouse design project management
- Distribution network analysis, design, and redesign.
- New warehouse design (exterior and interior)
- Warehouse layout optimisation
You’ll find more details on our warehouse design services page, so please do stop by and take a look. It features case studies of some of our successful projects and provides you with some easy options for getting in touch with us.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014. It has now been revamped and updated with more comprehensive information.
Just want to know what the receiving bay size is of a distribution centre ,44m in length, 15m wide and 12m in height? Thanks for your assistance
There is no ‘standard’.
It will depend on how often you are receiving, the incoming load sizes, type of ‘unit’ being received, how long putaway takes and more.
As outlined above, a rough rule of thumb is 20% of the space for receiving and dispatch.
Of course sometimes the same space might be used for both activities.
Hi, Could you please share typical schedule for a warehouse/ fulfillment center and typical cost break down structure for the same.
Thanks for assistance
I’d love to share it, but 2 things (1) it varies a lot by country and (2) there is considerable IP in what you are requesting and I’m not sure my warehouse consultants would be happy if I gave it away 🙁 Maybe we can do some videos on some aspects of it? In fact one of my warehouse consultants just shot a couple of videos that will be published in the next 2-3 weeks on this channel https://www.youtube.com/user/robobyrne/
Please advise the general rule of thumb for placement of goods in a warehouse?
The point I gathered would be fastest moving products stocked closest to the pick point and at levels easy to pick from!
Fastest moving closest to the packing and despatch area. And generally lower down. Try to minimise horizontal and vertical travel. But also don’t have all the fast movers together or the pickers will be falling over each other!
Warehousing where pickers are moving?
This is why we can not find a suitable off the shelf warehouse mngt system. They all focus on pick optimisation.
Picking labour isf often the highest cost in a warehouse, so that’s why. But a good WMS should of course focus on other things too. There are plenty of good WMS out there.
Our design is for processing of 600 (75 sku average per order) orders every 15 mins
There is currently no WMS that is designed to work with this level of processing.
It equates to 500,000 per week compared to Amazons 10,000
The orders are across a range of 7,500 sku’s with around 1500 being fresh produce.
That doesn’t sound very unusual. I’m surprised you can’t find a WMS with that capacity.
On reflection and not being a WMS specialist, I spoke to one of our warehouse specialists, and see that indeed is a very high throughput.
I’ll put you in touch with him.
Hi. can you advise, if the dock doors should be provided at one side of warehouse or both side (for large warehouses eg 4L and above)
What should be the Building aspect ratio in case of 2 side dock doors.
It is quite difficult to get building aspect ratio of 1.7: 1 -2:1 for large warehouses like 4L sqft and above due to site constraints. What do you suggest in that case.
Every site is different and the needs of the business are different, so without knowing the details of either it would be impossible to say. These are just rules of thumb. By all means contact us if you require a warehouse professionally designed.
Hello, is there a rule of thumb for the ratio of number of people directly reporting to their supervisors in a typical pick-pack warehouse? For example – 1 supervisor can handle max 20 FTEs, etc.
I need it for FTEs:Leads, Leads:Supervisors, Supervisors:Managers, Managers:Director, etc.
Thank you in advance.
The short answer is…….
It depends on the type of operation.
facility size, volume throughput, complexity of pick/pack., level of automation,
But I’ll ask one of our warehousing specialists (his response was the same)
The historical general theory on reporting structure is that following on from the Roman army.
The smallest Contubernium was about 8:1, there were about 10 Contubernium per Centurian i.e. 10:1.
So, this would suggest the range of direct reports varies better 8 to 10 as a maximum.
I had in one role 14 and definitely felt this was too many.
I think however with technology this number could increase.
Hi, just wanted to clarify the point where you consider ~10 meters to be the ideal warehouse height. It is not uncommon in Eastern Europe, for example, to build warehouses with springing line height of 12 meters, which leads to the question if it makes sense to aim at the highest building possible?
It’s not that easy. Warehouse height is also a result of things like land cost, labour cost and the cost / benefit of technology.
Low costs for land, labour and building, will tend to lead to low rise warehouses.
The reverse can lead to high rise warehouses.
Do you have a rule of thumb for your warehouse column spacing or grid?
I’ll need to ask one of our warehouse specialist this question. It will also depend on your standard racking dimensions. What country are you in? What are your standard beam widths (centre of upright to centre of upright)
The UAE. Honestly I am not sure what the standards are.
Hard to give you meaningful advice then, sorry. Warehouse storage height is governed by many things. Local labour cost and building/land cost being the main ones. High costs will often lead to higher buildings and more automation.
hello , my curiosity is about warehouse design pavement and foundation requirement ?
That would depend on the types of materials being stored (weight) and also the type of materials handling equipment being used. They all have different requirements depending on wheel loads, point loads and requirements for floor ‘flatness’.
HELLO, Is there any standard size or area of warehouse? If yes, can you mention the standard area
No. It’s like saying is there a standard size of home or business office. They are as big as they need to be.
The above information differ for many other countries. so, I am from India. can you please help me in the same information according to Indian standards. I know there is no particular standard for the space of the warehouse, but I want to know the basic and general things to built a warehouse. like, the percentage of staging and receiving area, clear height, some basic standard.
[I am a architecture student working on my thesis design. so, please help me in this or maybe you can mail me]
No difference between countries
Difference on purpose of warehouse, storage v fulfilment
Land cost and build rates
Future warehouses don’t have staging or receiving areas
I’m sorry but I can’t make these country specific without a greater knowledge of the specific country.
How the occupancy load calculated for Warehouse?
Usually based on the % of pallet spaces occupied. It can never be 100%, as you need space to operate. For standard racking, you might plan for a maximum of 85% occupancy for example.
Have gone through most of your videos and I should say they are very impressive and informative. I am working with a Warehouse/Industrial Building construction company in India.
Seek your advice, if there is any rule of thumb for determining the relationship of no. of pallets against the floor area of a warehouse, especially in case of cold storages.
e.g. can we say that @1000 Square Feet of space can take about 10 pallets or so?
Would be glad if you can help with this.
Allowing for the ever growing need for the “Last Mile” distribution of goods, buildings in historically overbuilt inner city locations continue to evolve into higher cube designs. It being translatable between higher clear area storage and the inversion ratio of higher SKU storage.
Since the intent of logistics’ is to determine the most advantageous design balance for material handling, what is a general rule of thumb for the number of SKU positions v/s the number of Dock Doors?
There is no direct relationship. It depends more on the number of outbound orders, cartons/pallets, how many ‘runs’ or regions, how many orders per truck, truck size etc. Also of course the inbound flow.
I wanted to know if there is any rule of thumb for predicting number of employees in a warehouse based on the floor area.
None whatsoever. There is no relationship between number of staff and floor area. Staff numbers are impacted by the volume of work required. So the number of orders/lines/items receipted, stored, picked etc.
Are there any specific requirements to unload/load flat bed trucks inside a Warehouse? signage, load securement, required sq. ft. between walkways and loading area, etc?
This will very much depend on local regulations and can be quite complex. Load securement for example here in Australia is bound by lots of regulations including Chain of Responsibility.
I would like to know the supply chain concept for a warehouse management system.
Could you explain the flow .
If you imagine each step of the flow of a product, from unloading and receipt, through to despatch, a good WMS will control all of that information and more. It will also include elements such as slot allocation, replenishment and cycle counting. And a good WMS will also include date/batch control.
We have acquired land and are looking to start construction.What should we keep in mind while designing roads,and foundation and flooring.
We want to rent the warehouse and want it to be as versatile as possible.
There are a lot of things to consider! What type of trucks will use the warehouse, how heavy will they be, will you store and move containers on site, will you use pallet racking, how high? All of these things impact the floor quality and strength as well as the hard stand requirements.
Is there any rule of thumb for the ratio, quantity or area of stage locations allocated for ready to ship outbound pallets based on the expected volume throughput of the warehouse (unit, pallet or order volumes)?
By ratio, I mean stage compared to “normal” storage.
The rough figure of 25-30% is often used for both inbound and outbound combined. But this is very vague as it is influenced by so many things like the size of the warehouse, type of storage, type of product…..
Is there a ratio for outside yard space compared to internal warehouse space . I have a 10,000sq ft warehouse how much yard space should I provide?
Depends a lot on the type of operations. If product is coming in via containers, how long the containers might stay there, types of trucks being used inbound / outbound…
whether electrical wiring are done in warehouses usually MS conduit or PVC conduit ?
Sorry I’m not an electrical engineer.