Warehouse Expansion Guide - Top 5 Tips
 Read This Guide Before You Decide!


Need to expand your warehouse? Read our top 5 tips for building extensions, moving into a new unit and selecting the right premises.



Tip 1: The slab

You need to ensure that the specification of the warehouse floor or "slab" meets the requirements of your storage system! When loaded, a storage system applies pressure to the warehouse floor. This is called a point load.


The wrong floor specification with a fully loaded system could crack and cause structural issues for the entire installation.


You can compare a point load to a ladies stiletto heel. Stand on a piece of polystyrene, it will puncture through. Put only a thin piece of MDF over the polystyrene and the heel won't puncture through. Like the heel, racking will puncture the warehouse floor.


By determining your storage system layout early you will be able to determine the correct specification of the warehouse floor.


Our project for Majestic Wine Warehouse Ltd highlights how we overcome issues with their warehouse floor. And our project for the Maritime Group Ltd was featured in Warehouse & Logistics News.



Tip 2:  Natural or artificial lighting?

Your staff will spend more waking hours at work than they will at home. This is even truer of warehouse staff that may be on a 12-hour shift pattern. You, therefore, need to carefully consider the lighting you will require. Will you have natural lighting through the roof? Do you need artificial lighting? Your warehouse racking layout will have an impact on the lighting required!


Lighting in the wrong place will create shadows and make it difficult for your staff to see the products. It can also create black spots for the forklift truck operators causing a health and safety hazard.


Warehouse lighting systems


Warehouse lighting systems



By configuring your racking system at the same time of designing your building you can combine the position of the roof lights with the racking eliminating the need for daytime lighting which will help save costs throughout the summer months. And by determining the correct layout, you'll know what lighting and LUX levels are required!


Have you considered the environmental impact of your warehouse? Check out our Guide to Commercial LED Lighting. Read more...



Tip 3: Which forklift?

What mechanical handling equipment will you be using? The equipment will have a direct impact on the racking configuration including aisle width, frame depth and top beam height. If you will be buying (or leasing) a new forklift, now may be the opportunity to look at which one will suit your needs.


There are 4 main types of forklift:


  • Counterbalance forklift - these are typically used in a wide aisle configuration which often doesn't make the best use of space but is versatile for outdoor use.
  • Reach Truck - this type of truck can often operate in narrower aisles but can be problematic using it outside limiting it to warehouse use only.
  • Articulated Truck - can be used in aisles as small as 1500mm and used outside, providing ultimate flexibility or "road to rack" use.
  • Very Narrow Aisle - a VNA forklift can operate in extremely narrow aisles maximizing capacity, however, you may need to be guided by a wire or rail increasing installation costs.


Warehouse forklift truck systems


Warehouse forklift truck systems



If you design a racking system with a top beam height of 5000mm but your forklift can only lift to 4500mm, this will mean the top beam level cannot be used. An aisle too narrow for your forklift will result in occurrences of racking damage, regardless of how good the driver is! It is always best to design your racking system in conjunction with the provider of your mechanical handling equipment as both work together intrinsically!



Tip 4: Your product

What is your product profile?

  • Pallets
  • Boxes
  • Awkward long loads
  • A vast mixture


You need to consider your entire product range to ensure you choose the right solution. By accurately calculating how many of each product you will keep in stock at one time, it enables a storage system to be designed that will maximize capacity and provide ultimate utilization of space. Dividing your racking system equally by product type could mean that fast moving products are never in stock, resulting in poor utilization of the racking system.


Do you have slow moving bulk loads of just 4 products? Drive in racking might be the right solution. Multiple smaller items stored in containers? A modular adjustable shelving system might work. Need a pick & pack area? Using a mezzanine floor might make use of the building height!


Warehouse product types


What type of product are you storing?



You may then need to consider how the product is stored on the racking. Chipboard, MDF and timber decking may seem the most cost-effective solution but steel decking may be better for hygiene sensitive environments. Similarly, your insurance company may require you to use a mesh deck to allow the flow of water from the sprinkler system.


A lot needs to be considered before you can decide on the storage system to install, therefore the right racking supplier will work with you to determine this by carrying out a product and warehouse appraisal.



Tip 5:  Capacity vs. operation

Many companies talk about maximising capacity: "I need to store as many pallets as possible, help!


Sometimes this may be the case and exactly what the business requires. However often it isn't the right solution. You need to consider pick rates, product flow and product type. 


A very narrow aisle (VNA) system may provide the greatest capacity but not allow ground floor picking due to aisle congestion; a VNA forklift may not leave the aisle which will not allow for pallet trucks to enter. Therefore an articulated truck or reach truck configuration will allow narrower aisles yet provide access for pallet trucks to carry out smaller picks. This enables you to maximize capacity and maximise the operation.


By looking at your operation and what the business requires, you will be able to determine the optimum solution for your storage systems.


VNA - very narrow aisle systems


Capacity vs operation: what type of system will best suit you?


Need some help?

At SEC Storage we are passionate about creating the right solution for our clients; so engage with us early! By working with us at the infancy of your project, we'll help you devise the optimum solution. We can carry out a feasibility study to determine:

  • Specification of the warehouse slab
  • What lighting you will require
  • The optimum storage system and forklift to use
  • What is most important to your business; capacity vs. operation


If you've recently submitted a planning application it still may not be too late to adjust the position of your roof lights or talk to the main contractor about the floor specification. Or if you've selected a new building to lease don't forget to check the specification of the slab!


Our space planning and feasibility study service is free of charge and can help you make the most of your new storage space.


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