Erect the racks than wrap the skin around them, and what do you get? Right, a warehouse!
Known as a rack supported warehouse, it uses the racking system as the primary structural support. With no conventional structural columns, the walls and the roof are fixed directly onto the rack structure.
This inside-out approach offers several advantages over a conventional warehouse, where there must first be a building before freestanding racks can be installed to accommodate storage needs.
As no columns are needed, a rack supported warehouse is faster to build and bring up to speed. Also known as a rack clad warehouse, the installation of the rack, the material handling equipment and the cladding can be undertaken simultaneously. For the same reasons, it is also cheaper to build as compared with a conventional warehouse with similar storage capacity.
Equally important, a rack supported warehouse makes the most of the available space. Because of the way it is constructed, it is possible to extend the storage height to over 44m, surpassing the height limitation of a conventional warehouse. Hence you can pack more into every cubic metre. For companies located in places where land cost is high or where space is hard to come by, it is a definite plus.
Being column free, companies can also make the most of the available foot print. A rack supported warehouse has a far the higher storage density than any traditionally built warehouse.
But is it safe?
Like everything else, properly designed and built, a rack supported warehouse is able to withstand day-to-day stresses from the operation as well as external forces. It is even recommended for places where there is high wind, snow load and seismic activity, as the forces are spread across multiple supporting posts. These structures have been designed to meet the most extremes of mother natures forces, typhoon force wind up to 220kmph or seismic condition up to UBC4.
Are there any drawbacks in having such a warehouse?
The most obvious is adaptability. Unlike a conventional warehouse which can be re-configured or put to alternative use, there is no second life for a rack supported warehouse. It can only be used for the purpose for which it was designed.
Who can benefit from it?
Rack supported warehouses are particularly suited for high volume distribution centres (DCs), third party logistics operators (3PLs) and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies where there is a need to optimise storage density (storage per m3). Equipped with an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), which uses a robotically guided crane together with in and out bound conveyors, the facilities can operate 24/7 with minimal human oversight. For operations where speed is the essence, these facilities can process high volumes of orders, quickly and accurately, with minimal shipping errors.