Define What You Need

Your first step in finding a warehouse is to determine what you need.

Sizing a warehouse can be a very complex exercise.  So, if the warehouse facility or facilities will be an important part of a large, storage-heavy emergency response, bring in an experienced logistician to help you come up with a comprehensive logistics plan – which will include sizing and placement of warehouses.

If, however, you are going to be storing small to moderate amounts of non-food and non-medical items in the short to medium term, you can use this method to figure out how much space you’ll need.

Sit down with:

  1. The Emergency Team Leader (who should have the big picture)
  2. Program staff (who should have details about what they will store and for how long), and
  3. Program support staff (who will have technical knowledge about purchasing and storing),

To plan storage requirements for the short- and medium-term.

This group should discuss:

  1. What you will store.
  2. How the items must be stored. (Do we need shelves or can we stack things on pallets on the floor?  Will some items need to be refrigerated?)
  3. How much space each item will take up.
  4. What the lead times are to order more of the items that will be stored.
  5. How long items will be in the warehouse.
  6. How quickly things will need to go out of the warehouse after they arrive. (For example, if delivery schedules are tight and you will have to load three trucks at the same time, you will want to make sure your facility will have space for that. )

Then, plan for more capacity than you initially think you will need (at least 25% more is generally adequate, but you can go as far as 50% more, to also plan for possible expansion).   We find teams usually (after the exercise above) think they will need less space than they really do.

When you know what you need, you can move on to step 2, finding out what your options are.