To many people a warehouse is simply a large shed. In most cases this assessment is a gross oversimplification of the facts.
As well as the storage areas, most warehouses will also include loading bays, office accommodation, workshops and an area for lorry parking. Depending on whether the warehouse handles containers, pallets or smaller items, high bay racking or other shelving may be required, together with the appropriate types of forklift trucks or automated materials handling systems to move goods around. A computerised stock control system is also likely to be essential. If food or pharmaceutical items are being stored, refrigerated or air conditioned storage areas may also be required.
Security and fire safety are always important issues in warehouses and insurers will insist on secure doors, intruder detection and fire alarms, floodlighting, emergency lighting, sprinkler systems, CCTV and often on-site security personnel to monitor the premises around the clock.
All these items cost money to purchase, maintain and administer and should be costed and included in any business plan presented with a mortgage application.
Whatever the business, the physical location of a warehouse is critical. As almost all goods are moved by lorry or van, good road links and easy access in and out of a warehouse site can speed up loading and unloading, improve efficiency and hence reduce costs.
For regional and national distribution centres, choosing the best geographical warehouse location available will have significant benefits for the overall efficiency of the supply chain. Most national distribution centres are located centrally, close to a motorway junction. For this reason, in the UK, many national distribution centres are to be found within a triangle drawn between Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield, close to the M1, M6 and M62 motorways. For similar reasons many British warehouses with supply chain links to EU countries are located in Kent, near the M2 and M20 motorways, for easy access to the Channel Tunnel and ports with ferry services to France and Belgium.
- Warehouse properties do not consist solely of storage space
- Security and fire safety are always major issues in warehouses
- Geographical location and ease of access are important considerations when choosing a warehouse