Warehouse Design

The warehouse is the critical point in a supply chain, connecting suppliers and customers. Thoughtful design unlocks efficiencies, maximises capacity and plots a path for growth

The warehouse, or distribution centre (DC), is a critical node of any supply chain or logistics function. Generally, a DC receives, stores and ships product to customers. The objective of a warehouse design project is to create a concept design which utilises the most appropriate and efficient material handling equipment to support the distribution centre’s throughput requirements.

The optimal warehouse design will depend on the throughput requirements, handling units (i.e. pallets, cases, units or other), size and height of the proposed warehouse facility and a business’ investment appetite. We use our extensive experience in designing distribution centres and market knowledge of solutions to evaluate the capital and operational costs of a range of feasible solutions before proposing a recommended solution. This includes warehouse automation and robotics technologies and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

What is Warehouse Design

Warehouse design is the process of defining the optimal warehouse size, layout and technology for a facility or operation. It looks at the processes to determine the requirements of a new facility (i.e. footprint, clear height, floor strength, power, yard size etc.) based on the preferred handling technology.

A warehouse design project will deliver an end-to-end concept design including an equipment schedule of the required MHE, site drawings (i.e. CAD layouts, 3D renders or virtual reality) and an outline transition plan for phased developments. This provides all the information to undertake the equipment procurement process.

Benefits of Warehouse Design

The benefits of investing in the design of a warehouse are:

Thorough evaluation of design options
Determine the right solution for your operation before you engage a single vendor, comparing a range of feasible solutions on a like-for-like basis against a mix of criteria including, capital expenditure, operational expenditure, footprint and more
Challenge existing design assumptions
It is important to challenge existing assumptions of the optimal technology and layout. What you’ve always done, might no longer be appropriate with the ever-increasing pace of change
Plan effectively for the future
Save costs by fully understanding the footprint and height requirements in the short and long-term before you explore new facilities to maximise choice of location and design flexibility

Warehouse Design Considerations

There are four key considerations in designing warehouse operations:

What is the process flow of products through the distribution centre?

It is important to define the process steps through the warehouse. All operations will need some form of goods receipt and despatch process but what happens in between. And what are the sizes of the flows? Should goods be separated into different streams or should they be co-located (i.e. hanging versus flat apparel or small ‘Toteable’ versus large ‘non-Toteable’ products. Is there sufficient stock depth to necessitate reserve and forward, or pickface, storage?

Which storage and picking technology is most appropriate?

Once the flow has been determined, the individual process elements can be assessed against the various storage and picking solutions on the market. The available solutions can be narrowed down based on the handling load and whether there are any infrastructure constraints including floor loadings or existing mezzanines. It is here where warehouse automation can be evaluated against manual options for each process.

What size facility is required?

A company in the early stages of moving to a new warehouse facility can ask fundamental questions about what the next warehouse should look like. What is the optimal height and size of the warehouse? Can or how the operation fit into a specific building might be another key question to businesses that have a clear idea of the warehouse facility that needs to be designed. Having the foresight to determine the optimally sized warehouse facility early enough enables greater flexibility when it comes to choosing and sizing a site.

How should the warehouse be laid out to support flow and growth?

After each storage and picking solution is known, and the size of the site is established, it is then important to create a warehouse layout that supports the efficient flow of product through the site. Furthermore, it is critical to factor in where the solution might need to grow so that it can be expanded in the future. This might include space for new storage aisles, packing stations, goods-to-person pick stations etc.

How BoxLogic Can Help

There are several stages to delivering a warehouse design project and BoxLogic can support your operation throughout the entire process, although we particularly specialise in the early stages from concept design through to vendor selection.

Project Stage
How Can BoxLogic Help
Concept Design
Evaluate a range of feasible manual and automated technology options to determine the solution(s) that offer the best return on investment. The preferred technology is worked into an end-to-end concept design supported by CAD drawings, 3D renders, implementation timeline and equipment schedule.
Business Case
Support in the creation of a robust business case of the preferred concept. We use our vast experience to incorporate the wider benefits and costs of warehouse design to give confidence in what is being presented to the board for approval.
Vendor Selection
Leading or supporting the process of selecting a vendor through a tender to achieve a range of fully informed and competitively priced proposals. We use our extensive knowledge of the industry and proven process to inform and support you to make the best long-term partner for your business.
Detailed Design
Work with the preferred vendor to take the sales concepts and build them into a final design for manufacture. Our valuable experience challenges the supplier’s designs, value engineering where possible and ensuring that the agreed meets the objectives of the original business case.
Project Implementation
Define, oversee, and review the testing processes to ensure that the physical and software elements of the installation are hitting the contractual agreements agreed in the sales process. We can also provide experience resource to project manage or support the steering committee to make the right decisions to be made at the right times throughout the project.
Go-Live & Ramp Up
Work closely with the operation to plan and execute a realistic ramp up of volumes as the operations teams adapt to the new ways of working in an automated warehouse system.

Our Process

BoxLogic specialise in the early stages of your warehouse layout design journey. Our independence and ability to compare a wide range of manual and automated technologies on a like-for-like basis mean that we can identify the solution that is most appropriate for you. No two projects are the same, but a typical project approach is outlined below.

We develop a strong working understanding of your warehouse and operating model by facilitating a kick-off workshop and interviewing key stakeholders to enhance our understanding and build a picture of the project requirements.

We analyse representative data sets to understand current operational flows. These are overlaid with growth projections to create a ‘planning base’. This is used as a key input to the option modelling phase.

Our consultants agree a shortlist of feasible options with the client project team. We then create bespoke models to evaluate the capital cost, operating cost, footprint, and service levels of each option. A preferred solution is then agreed for further development based on the return on investment and appetite for capital investment.

We work with you to further develop the preferred technology into an end-to-end solution and produce a concept layout in CAD. We can even produce 3D renders or a virtual reality flythrough of the proposed concept. Our team collaborate with your finance team to build a robust business case for board approval and to define a transition plan to the future state solution.

We develop a comprehensive tender pack detailing the solution requirements to issue to the shortlist of agreed vendors. Our team coordinate the Q&A process while vendors create their sales proposals. After reviewing proposals, refining solution designs and costs, visiting reference sites a contract award is made.

Our consultants work with your team to review the contract in the agreed form, making recommendations where necessary. We can also provide expert guidance through the detailed design, implementation, and go-live stages to ensure that the built solution meets the requirements set out at the start of the process, mitigating risks along the way.

Case Study

Learn about how we delivered value for our client on a warehouse design project.


A leading designer and supplier of packaging materials and processes had outgrown its warehouse and was occupying substantial offsite footprint with 3PL and short-term lease of additional facilities. The client wanted to evaluate different storage mediums as part of a warehouse design process in advance of a move to new speculative build facility.

Project Approach

  • Visited the operation to assess the suitability of the variety of pallet formats, qualities and overhangs and determined that quality was not sufficient for multi-deep storage for the high-stock depth SKUs.
  • Worked closely with the head of operations to categorise the different pallet formats incorporating Euro, UK, and non-standard pallet bases, in addition to varying pallet heights and weights and establish future storage requirements for each pallet type.
  • Created multiple concept designs to maximise the storage capacity of the operation and worked with the client to select a preferred design concept.
  • Created a detailed CAD plan with elevations and compiled a requirements document to support the client tendering for new MHE equipment including racking and forklifts.


BoxLogic provided the client with a detailed warehouse design utilising narrow aisle storage and articulated reach trucks for the putaway and retrieval of materials. The output of a labour model informed the mobile MHE requirement. Budget costs were supplied to aid board approval. This was supplemented with the provision of a professional tender pack to support the procurement of new equipment required for the operation.

Why Work With BoxLogic

Good warehouse design delivers long-term efficiencies. This may include evaluating whether automation can generate long-term labour and space savings or looking at specific product categories to consider alternative storage types to increase warehouse capacity and more. BoxLogic’s warehouse design consultants are well placed to help you business for several reasons.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Warehouse design is the process of defining the optimal warehouse size, layout and technology for a facility or operation. It looks at the processes to determine the requirements of a new facility (i.e. footprint, clear height, floor strength, power, yard size etc.) based on the preferred handling technology.

A thoughtful and comprehensive warehouse design is important as it allows a full consideration of the different technology options and identification of the lowest long-term cost solution. This might include the use of multi-deep or automated equipment or even right sizing a facility for your short and long-term needs. It can be valuable to challenge existing design assumptions as repeating what you’ve always done may no longer be appropriate.

The capacity of a warehouse is the maximum at which a facility can operate. The warehouse processes will be broken down into individual ‘capacity elements’, from truck offload through to loading, and measured accordingly. Each element will be constrained by the speed or quantity of equipment (e.g. the conveyor speed or number of pallet locations). The element with the lowest capacity, whether storage or throughput-related, will be the facility’s capacity constraint.

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