What should I do after I build the bones of my warehouse?

A grey shell building is a blank canvas of possibilities. Whether you’re a landlord hoping to attract tenants or a business ready to customize a facility for your operation, you’ll need to think carefully about how you design your warehouse. Before you get started, use these tips to guide your decisions:

FAST: Four factors that support success

Before you install anything, envision how the building will support your operations. Poor design can lead to bottlenecks, hold-ups and convoluted workflows. Logistics Bureau suggested keeping the acronym FAST in mind when creating your floor plan:

Flow: Be sure processes flow smoothly throughout the facility. Workers should be able to pass from one task to another in an intuitive manner rather than zigzagging throughout the building.

Accessibility: Items should be easily accessible by any employee. Workers shouldn’t have to move products out of the way to reach what they need.

Space: Your grey shell building has only so much space, so it’s important to use it wisely. Most likely, you’ll need to dedicate a large portion of it to processing and storage. Determine how much square footage you want to set aside for these functions, then divide the rest among offices, battery storage, empty pallets and equipment housing.

Throughput: Finally, your products need to flow through your warehouse smoothly and at the correct pace. You’ll have different levels of throughput demand on different days, so you’ll need to ensure your facility can handle high-demand days as well as slower periods. Keep in mind the characteristics of each item you’ll be handling, including factors like size, shape, weight and fragility.

With these four factors in mind, you can begin making decisions about the specific equipment to incorporate into your grey shell building:


There are many options for racking in your warehouse, and the right one will support the demands of your operation.

Selective pallet racks are the most basic and common type of racking system. They’re simply designed and can be reached from the aisle. While they work well in most cases, there are alternative options that may be more helpful, depending on your operation.

Accessibility is a critical consideration to make when choosing your racking system. If your products have a short shelf life, a first-in, first-out system will be best. Some examples of this include pallet flow racks, drive in/drive through pallet racks and carton flow racks.

If shelf life isn’t a concern, a first-in, last-out system, such as push-back racking systems, will work well, and these systems can hold a high density of goods.

Dock design

Your dock design is a key component in determining the flow and throughput of your operation. There are five main points to keep in mind:

1. Dock door

When choosing your doors, the size of incoming trailers matters. In addition to that, consider the benefits of an integrated system, which prevents the door from opening until the trailer is secured by a dock restraint to improve safety and efficiency.

2. Dock leveler

While in years past, the basic dock leveler was the mechanical pit-style leveler, you now have many more options for your loading dock. Hydraulic and pneumatic levelers require just the push of a button.

Vertical levelers don’t require you to cut a pit, which can save time and make your operation more sanitary and energy efficient. In any case, be sure the leveler matches the conditions of your operation, including the style of forklifts that will drive over the leveler and the size of the trailers that will access your building.

3. Dock seals and shelters

Dock seals and shelters serve several functions: They improve energy efficiency, keep precipitation away from the interior of your building and maintain sanitary conditions in your warehouse. The right choice depends on the types of trailers that will come to your facility, though you should also consider the lift trucks and other equipment you use and the slope of the loading bay when making this decision.

4. Truck restraints

The trailers that come to your warehouse need to be secured during the loading and unloading process to minimize the risk of accidents. Dock restraints lock the trailer in place, preventing fork trucks from shifting the vehicle on its wheels and creating a gap.

5. Work conditions

Consider what the work environment will be and how it will impact your employees. Lights can help improve visibility and reduce the risk of mistakes, and loading dock fans keep workers cool, which is especially important during sweltering summers.

Plan for the future of your building

When designing your warehouse, remember to plan for the future. Although your new equipment is in pristine condition now, you’ll eventually need to maintain and repair it. There’s no better time than when you’re first getting your space organized to create a long-term service and maintenance plan. To create a planned maintenance schedule, reach out to Miner.