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Many businesses need ample space to store their inventory before products reach customers. However, they frequently end up with too much or too little floor area to move things around quickly and efficiently—and it costs them.

It’s critical to strike the right balance when it comes to warehouse capacity. You don’t want to run out of space and have to relocate to a larger facility, but you also don’t want to underutilize the storage facility and incur high carrying costs.

So what do you do? Learn how to calculate the storage capacity of a warehouse. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What Is Warehouse Storage Capacity?

Warehouse capacity pertains to the amount of space available for storing inventory, preparing items for shipment, and fulfilling orders. There are two types of capacity: theoretical storage capacity and working capacity. It’s important to distinguish them from one another.

Theoretical storage capacity is determined by the warehouse’s vertical and horizontal dimensions. Bear in mind that the facility’s total cubic footage does not account for the limited functional space inside, often resulting in overestimating actual capacity.

Working capacity is the available space within the warehouse that allows for efficient workflow. This measurement is often smaller and more conservative than theoretical storage, and it’s critical to understand it when learning how to calculate the storage capacity of a warehouse.

How to Calculate Capacity

Understanding your current warehouse capacity is critical in determining whether you need to expand or improve storage space utilization. Follow the below steps to determine an accurate figure for total storage capacity.

  1. Calculate the total facility size by its square footage. For instance, your warehouse measures 150,000 sq. ft.
  1. Estimate the total space used for non-storage, such as offices, break rooms, loading docks, and other areas where goods are not stored. For illustrative purposes, let’s assume non-storage space is at 20,000 sq. ft.
  1. Subtract the above figure from the total square footage to derive usable space. Based on calculations, you’re left with 130,000 sq. ft. for storage.
  1. Determine how much vertical space you have for storage by measuring the distance from the floor to the highest possible clearance. Consider the lowest hanging overhead object or facility’s steel shell to estimate your maximum stack height or clear ceiling height. Let’s peg it at 30 ft.
  1. Multiply the facility’s clear height by the total usable square footage for storage to arrive at the warehouse’s storage capacity. Going with the above assumptions, your total capacity is 3,900,000 cubic feet (130,000 sq. ft X 30 ft.).

However, actual scenarios are usually more complicated—you have to factor in movement, traffic, and workflow, which leaves less storage space. But by understanding how to calculate the storage capacity of a warehouse, you can make better decisions on managing the remaining usable space.

Understanding Your Storage Needs

After knowing how to calculate the storage capacity of a warehouse, you must also understand whether you’re maximizing the space. Otherwise, you may be paying unnecessary expenses for the inefficient use of space, such as rent, storage, and inventory management costs. Periodic inspections allow you to evaluate your current utilization.

An important part of computing a warehouse’s capacity is figuring out how to estimate the storage space needed for your operations. Consider the following key factors: 

  • Product characteristics, such as dimensions, weight, fragility, and temperature sensitivities
  • Storing, racking, organizing, and picking methods
  • Pallet types
  • Vertical cube capacities
  • Load dimensions
  • Aisle widths
  • Additional storage for seasonal trends and forecasted growth

Once you’ve determined that you have over utilized or underutilized a warehouse based on your storage needs, you may want to search for another facility for bigger cost savings in the long run. Be sure to ask the following questions:

  • What is the maximum clear height?
  • What is the available loading type?
  • Does it have a truck court that can accommodate several 18-wheeler trucks simultaneously?
  • What security features are in place?

You might consider partnering with a trusted third-party logistics company to handle your warehousing requirements. If you’re not fully on board with the idea, consider a hybrid approach of outsourcing and leasing a warehouse facility.

Manage Storage Capacity with Mesa

Learning how to calculate the storage capacity of a warehouse for your needs is essential but can be complex. However, it doesn’t always have to be that way. At Mesa Moving and Storage, we offer warehousing services to take the load off your shoulders. From storage to inventory management, our solutions will help you get your products to the right place at the right time.

Susan Richards

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