three trucks parked at warehouse docking station

Much of your business revolves around buying products from your suppliers and selling them to consumers. However, there’s an in-between act that’s critical to your supply chain – warehousing. But what is warehousing exactly, and what are the different types of this process?

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What Is Warehousing?

Man woman organizing warehouse

Warehousing is the procedure of storing products you’ll distribute or sell. If you’re a small business owner, you might be using your garage or basement as your warehouse. By contrast, large-scale operations require you to rent or buy facilities and other buildings that are specifically built for storing goods.

The primary role of warehousing is to allow you to keep your commodities before relocating them elsewhere. You can have a warehouse for a few other reasons.

For instance, it can serve as your assembly line. This is normally done with products you receive in several pieces. Once they arrive, you can designate a part of your warehouse for the assembly of these wares.

Alternatively, you can primarily use your warehouse as a robust shipment center. In that case, you need to set up your warehouse in a location that provides a strategic advantage. It should allow you to receive your shipments efficiently, so you can transport them to other sites more easily.

Finally, your warehouse can act as a rental space. You may opt for this solution if you can’t fit your stock in your warehouse or you’re having trouble selling your products. If so, you could rent your warehouse to another company.

Different Types of Warehousing

One of the most significant benefits of warehousing is that you’re not restricted to just one type of warehouse. You can store your products in a wide array of facilities:

1. Public Warehouses

birds-eye of warehouse with workers in discussion

The government owns public warehouses and makes them available to your company. They enable you to store your products, even if you don’t have a dedicated space in your residence or commercial property.

Authorities lend public warehouses for various personal and business purposes. However, they’re most commonly used by small- and medium-sized businesses that need to store their items for a relatively short period. Additionally, they’re highly accessible and affordable, which is why they’re popular among most startups.

The only major downside of public warehouses is that they rarely use state-of-the-art technology. Consequently, you might not have access to hi-tech software to facilitate your warehouse management and inventory control.

2. Bonded Warehouses

warehouse containers at bonded shipping port

Bonded warehouses are warehouses where you can keep your imported products before paying customs duties. You may be permitted to store your items in these facilities if the authorities realize you’ll lose a lot of money due to customs delays. This enables you to keep products until the government processes your bonds, reducing the risk of monetary losses due to holdups.

In most cases, storing goods in bonded warehouses is an excellent option because you’re not subject to duties until authorities green-light your products. Furthermore, these are typically well-constructed facilities that reliably protect your stock from the elements.

Bonded warehouses also work great if you often import your product. They can streamline your supply chain by preventing any duties on your items until you find buyers. On top of that, they have secure storage areas, making them perfect for companies that frequently engage in cross-border trading.

3. Distribution Centers

distribution warehouse with ports for truck loading

If you’re looking for a warehouse with as much space as possible, distribution centers are your best option. This is the largest type of warehouse, and it allows you to move a huge number of products relatively quickly. You normally use these facilities if you need to procure your products from various suppliers and transfer them to customers worldwide.

It would be hard to imagine a fully functional supply chain without distribution centers. They play a pivotal role in the customer journey because they offer the fastest way to transport goods. Most facilities come with advanced computer management to take their efficiency to the next level. Moreover, you can generally find these buildings near major transportation hubs, further speeding up delivery and boosting efficiency.

Distribution centers are perfect for food and other perishable products. These centers hold them for less than 24 hours, receiving them early in the morning and shipping them to your customers later in the day or at night.

4. Private Warehouses

girl worker removing fragile box from private warehouse

Unlike public warehouses, which are owned by the country where they’re located, private facilities are owned by distributors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and corporations. You can also have a private warehouse if you’re a major online marketplace with lots of merchandise. You purchase your items in bulk during peak seasons. Upon their arrival at your facility, you store them and distribute them systematically, depending on demand for each product.

While it may sound good for your company, private warehousing requires significant investments, making it a good choice for well-established owners. It’s a cost-efficient long-term warehousing solution, but the initial investment is too big for most organizations.

5. Smart Warehouses

smart robot delivery at warehouse

You might have seen pictures or videos of warehouses with piles of products but without any staff. Robots and other cutting-edge technology have taken over the storage requirements, which is why they require little to no human input. These facilities are known as smart warehouses.

More and more people are relying on smart warehouses due to their tremendous benefits. Primarily, they feature robust automated tools that make warehouse management a breeze. They also have unmanned equipment, sorting stations, and conveyor belts, eliminating the need to hire dozens of storage workers.

However, the cost of managing your inventory and sorting your products by robots is often exorbitant. Such warehouses are only worth it if the savings gained from automating your supply chain eclipse your warehousing expenses.

6. Temperature-controlled Warehouses

temperature controlled warehouse with wine casks

Climate-controlled areas are common. You can find them on practically any corner in the form of hospitals and schools to gas stations and cafes. But temperature control isn’t reserved for these facilities only. There are also temperature-controlled warehouses, where items that require special handling are stored. Some of these products include medical equipment, candles, paintings, and skin care products.

Businesses that hold their products in these warehouses also sell food, flowers, and many other goods that need special attention and climate conditions. You can even find animals in these facilities.

The most extreme form of temperature-controlled warehouses might be cold storage. You can use this solution if you need to freeze sensitive products for a long period. Once your goods are frozen, their shelf life is extended, allowing you to keep your goods intact before they reach your customers.

7. Consolidated Warehouses

shopper selecting products from consolidated warehouse

Your business model may look something like this:

  • You receive small shipments from several suppliers.
  • The smaller shipments are grouped into larger ones.
  • You distribute the products to your buyers in the same location.

If this is how you do business, you may need consolidated warehouses. They’re convenient for receiving shipments from a wide range of customers and consolidating your products into larger groups.

Plus, they’re more affordable than smart warehouses and other advanced facilities. You need fewer funds to access a consolidated warehouse, making it a great choice for your startup.

8. Hazardous Materials Warehouses

A hazardous materials warehouse is similar to a temperature-controlled warehouse. You use them if you have specialized staff well-versed in handling dangerous and sensitive materials.

These facilities follow strict regulations on the storage of many materials. The list includes viruses, bacteria, radioactive substances, weapons, explosives, gasses, and any other potentially harmful substances.

Investing in hazardous materials warehouses can be a great decision under certain conditions. For instance, you’re required to train your employees to handle the substances with great care. Once they adopt safe storage practices, they can use them in other types of warehouses. This reduces the risk of workplace injuries and product damage.

Keep in mind that these facilities are generally located far away from cities and vulnerable populations. They’re also usually larger than standard warehouses to allow products that are volatile if combined from coming in contact and causing potentially lethal chemical reactions. Furthermore, these facilities have the highest security, fire defenses, sophisticated equipment, and humidity control. All of which result in high warehousing costs.

9. Cooperative Warehouses

man uses fork lift in warehouse

If you’re a co-op, you may also run cooperative warehouses. Both you and your members (including those outside your co-op) can keep products at such facilities. The most significant benefit is that co-op members gain access to lower warehousing fees. As a result, you can consider cooperative warehouses if you’re a startup or want to cut costs.

Best Devices for Warehousing

warehouse worker using barcode scanner

Regardless of your warehouse type, you need a robust warehousing device. It helps ensure quick sorting and delivery. Here are some of the gadgets you can consider:

  • Honeywell Granit XP 1999iXLR – This handheld warehouse scanner is perfect for near-field scanning operations. It’s suitable both for 2D and 1D codes, featuring a max scanning range of up to 6.6 feet. It offers reliable performance, even on low-quality and damaged barcodes.
  • Honeywell Granit 1911i Industrial Scanner – The Granit 1911i Industrial Scanner works great for warehouse scanning. Compatible with 2D and 1D barcodes, it’s a versatile device with exceptional performance. It also has an IP65 durability rating, making it ideal for harsh settings.
  • DT Research DT301Y – This mobile computer tablet is a rugged device with outstanding durability and performance. It features shatter-resistant hardware and a 10.1-inch screen that allows for seamless data reading. The gadget also comes with an integrated scanner.
  • DT Research DT362GL – The DT Research DT362GL is a handheld mobile computer with scanning capabilities. It has a robust six-inch touchscreen and cutting-edge software to help improve your warehouse management. The design is slim yet incredibly durable.

Important Note: Selecting the right device for your warehouse can be hard. You could use expert insights from industry professionals, and that’s where Energy Electronics comes in. We can advise you on the perfect gadget for your warehousing needs and offer the best prices.

Best Software for Warehousing

Mobile Computer Platforms Android

Besides having a reliable warehousing device, another must-have is warehousing software. The following solutions can work wonders in your organization:

  • Honeywell Momentum Warehouse Management System (WMS) – Honeywell’s WMS features robust enterprise resource planning system integration, real-time inventory tracking, label printing, order fulfillment, reporting, dashboards, and transportation management.
  • DT Research Software – This software simplifies workflows, improves operational efficiency, enhances data collection, reduces errors, transmits data in real-time from different terminals, and offers centralized control for your devices to minimize costs.
  • Zebra Technologies Software – Zebra Technologies also has robust warehouse management software that takes care of all warehouse activities on your behalf. This includes receiving, inventory and materials management, packing and staging, and shipping.

Reach out to Energy Electronics if you’re not sure which software works best for your warehouse. We can provide relevant advice and the best prices.

Consult with a Warehousing Expert

Finding a suitable warehouse can be challenging, as you can choose from numerous facilities. Integrating the right devices and software is also difficult.

Fortunately, Energy Electronics is here to streamline the process. Contact your warehousing consultant today, and they’ll provide expert advice on selecting the right warehouse. We also offer insights into improving your warehouse operations.