What Are the Functions of a Warehouse?

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Warehouses are used in a number of ways by different businesses.
Warehouses are used in a number of ways by different businesses. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Warehouses are large buildings that are often filled with shelving, equipment and other items that pertain to the business of the warehouse owner. A warehouse can serve several functions beyond acting as a storage facility, however. The use of a warehouse largely depends upon the needs of its owner.

Storage

The most common function of a warehouse is to act as a storage space for inventory, equipment or other items. Inventory warehouses often contain a large number of shelving units or storage containers and may feature a computerized inventory tracking system to assist with keeping track of items contained in the warehouse. Some storage warehouses may contain inventory and equipment for multiple businesses, sharing the warehouse space to reduce overall storage costs.

Shipping Hub

Some warehouses function as a shipping hub, receiving shipments and holding the items until they are loaded onto other trucks and shipped elsewhere. Depending on the business that operates the warehouse, the shipping hub may meet the needs of a single business or receive shipments for multiple companies. Warehouses used as shipping hubs often operate on an extended schedule, sometimes making and receiving shipments throughout the day and night.

Office Space

Warehouse owners may choose to divide their warehouses to create office space, meeting rooms and other rooms that do not fit the traditional warehouse role. This is especially common for businesses who operate primarily out of their warehouse such as wholesale companies and some construction-related contractors. The office and meeting areas allow managers to meet with potential clients without the added expense of maintaining a dedicated office space in a separate building.

Work Area

Similar to warehouses with office areas, some warehouses have portions of their available space set aside as a work area for product assembly or finishing. This allows business owners to save money by combining what would otherwise be separate workshop and storage areas. By having a work area within the warehouse itself, transport requirements are also reduced. Repairs to damaged items also occur onsite using the available tools.

Rental Property

Some warehouses serve as a source of rental income for their owners who rent them out to others who use them for storage or other purposes. Depending on the rental agreement, the business or individual renting the warehouse may have a large degree of freedom regarding organization of the warehouse and may be able to make non-permanent modifications to the warehouse space to accommodate office areas or other sections.

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