Efficiency, Storage

Organizing The Space Over Your Loading Docks

The constant struggle for space in a warehouse is a tale as old as time, isn’t it?

You think you’ve got everything laid out exactly where you need it and then suddenly your holiday shipments come through and you’re right back to panicking about where to put things. Even with the smartest organisation of your racking and the best-used aisle space between warehouse racks, it can start to feel like you’re running out of space to put everything.

Before you overreact and start looking into new rental warehouse spaces, there may be unused space all over your warehouse you haven’t considered using before. Chief among these undiscovered territories is usually the loading dock.

The loading dock, generally reserved for…well, the loading and unloading of inbound goods, is an ample source of unused space for storing goods, even with the constant influx of trucks, forklifts, and staff. In most cases, the trick is to look up.

Loading docks are just like anywhere else in the warehouse. You need to leave room for your staff, but there’s a lot of vertical space that goes unused since, frankly, most people just don’t think about it. Next time you’re in your loading dock, look at the gap between your loading bay doors and your ceiling. Does it look like there’s enough space for an installation like warehouse mezzanines or even just some taller-than-usual pallet racks?

Pallet racks, specifically, are a good solution if you find yourself cramped for floor space but still have access to space just under the ceiling. By using taller upright frames, you can build your pallet racks with enough space between each door to still allow workers and vehicles to flow freely through the loading bay. These posts will need to be anchored as securely as possible, but with careful measurements you should be able to create additional overhead storage space.

This newly created space is going to be best served for items that need to be stored long-term. Obviously, items that sell through pretty regularly or anything that needs easier access (holiday specials, frequent sale items, etc) will need to be stored somewhere lower and easier to get to, but this will be a perfect place for things like out-of-season goods, anything that sells more slowly, or overflow stock that needs to be retained until it can be returned to the manufacturer or blown out on clearance.

Of course, there are safety issues to consider, just like with any racks. These racks will have to be bolted down as securely as possible and protected from collisions with trucks or forklifts along the way—warehouse safety guard rails can be a huge help in that regard if space allows. Otherwise, try to buffer your posts with shock-absorbent material like foam core or rubber to help further insulate them from accidental collisions.

Hopefully with this advice you’ll find all-new ways of storing goods in your loading docks. If even this doesn’t work, you may need to start considering some inventory changes—but that’s an adventure for another time.