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A warehouse or distribution facility does not generate income. It is a cost center and therefore must be designed in the most efficient manner possible. An efficient warehouse will make use not only of all of the square footage available, but will also look to cube out the available space to reduce the cost per unit shipped to its lowest possible amount.
The most critical part of building a warehouse is proper design. A number of things must be considered during this process. You must have proper equipment. If your product makeup allows it, the taller the warehouse the better. Pallet racking can be built to heights of 40 feet or more. This type of system maximizes the square footage of the warehouse by cubing out the building. It also cuts down on travel time from point A to point B when transporting product. Keep all travel distances to a minimum. You must determine the number of pallets or stock units you need to store, and design the warehouse to fit that number, plus an additional 10 percent.
Earthwork and Foundation
Once the design is set and the location determined, the heavy work begins. The first order of business is the earthwork. Soil must be added or removed as needed to create a level area for the building iand a tarmac for delivery trucks. Employee parking and other considerations must also be taken into account at this phase. Once the earthwork has been completed, the plumbing and electrical contractors will lay out their lines prior to the foundation being poured. In addition to the concrete foundation, concrete trucks pads will also need to be laid at each dock door. The remainder of the tarmac and parking area can be covered with asphalt rather than concrete.
Walls and Roof
The framework of the warehouse will be built atop the foundation, normally consisting of a series of heavy medal girders and beams. A lighter-weight skeleton will be built over these heavy beams and will contain the framework for any windows or doors to be included in the building. Sheets of metal that will form the roof and walls of the warehouse will be placed on this skeleton. These sheets will be secured to the skeleton and then have a thick layer of insulation installed on the interior. Once the outer shell is completed, the doors and windows will be installed and all trim work finished.
With the exterior finished, the interior work begins. The first thing installed will be the sprinkler system, followed by any heating and air units. Any offices can be completed and restrooms will be made operational. With these elements in place, the warehouse racking is ready to be installed and the travel aisles and pathways clearly marked. This is when any specialty features are installed, such as battery-charging station or maintenance areas. When these are complete, the building is ready to house merchandise.
Tom Raley is a freelance writer living in central Arkansas. He has been writing for more than 20 years and his short stories and articles have appeared in more than 25 different publications including P.I. Magazine, Pulsar and Writer's Digest.