Warehouses are large storage premises accessed by manufacturers, traders, exporters, importers as well as middlemen. They are used for housing goods during their transit from the manufacturer to the end-user. Some common functions of warehouses include acceptance of goods from manufacturers and sellers, unloading of goods, inspection of goods and stock-taking, storing goods in appropriate premises and conditions, and dispatching goods to the next destination as per information provided by the manufacturer or seller.
They play an important role in the supply chain and inventory management. Warehousing has now gained status as a separate business, whereby manufacturers can save a considerable amount of their capital from being spent on creating infrastructure for storage. Over a period of time, warehouses have become more complex in nature. They have diversified as per their location and nature of goods that they house. Here is a list of warehouse types.
Nature and Types
These warehouses are located within the premises of shipping docks or in close proximity of coastal cities with ports. Most of the time, these warehouses are government controlled or owned by shipping dock authorities. These warehouses specialize in storing and maintaining goods till they are loaded or unloaded from ships. Alternately, shipping companies have tie-ups with these warehouses to store goods brought in by them. Such warehouses store goods for a fixed period of time until they are picked up by rightful owners, after clearing off all warehousing dues. At times, dockyard warehouses are also termed as bonded warehouses.
These warehouses are located near rail-car tracking and container ports. They serve as a temporary location to deposit goods received through rail-cars or in containers. After a fixed number of days, these goods receive approval and are reloaded onto containers and rail-cars for carrying them to their ultimate destination town or city.
These warehouses are used for storing goods that are usually perishable in nature. Some of their primary goods in stock may include food products like milk products, poultry and fish, horticultural products, fruits and vegetables, canned products etc. These warehouses are strategically located either in the center of the city or close to airports or dockyards, from where these goods are transferred to new locations. These warehouses do business because of their excellent refrigeration facilities and state-of-the-art technology to track goods as per their expiry dates. Due to perishable nature of these goods, there is a high level of inventory movement in cold storages.
Distribution warehouses or public warehouses receive large quantities of goods from different manufacturers. The same are maintained in the warehouse till the manufacturer or middleman informs the warehouse manager regarding transferring of these goods to new buyers. It is the warehouse's responsibility to handover the shipment to the new buyer, or load the goods for transportation to their intended destination. In such type of warehouses, the goods are just tentatively paced in warehouses and transferred to the buyers without any change in their material form or packaging.
These warehouses receive goods in varied quantities from different manufacturers and suppliers. The crates and packing used for these goods are opened up by warehouse keepers. A detailed list of inventory is prepared and recorded. These goods are now converted into smaller shipments for delivery to the new buyers. Consolidated warehouses are very popular with manufacturers who take online orders or drop shipping orders for their goods.
Value Adding Warehouses
These warehouses are generally engaged in adding some new variant to the physical appearance of the goods. Such warehouses employ warehouse keepers to keep track of and maintain the goods received by them, as also some skilled and unskilled staff to further process these goods. The warehouse usually labels and repacks these goods with the brand name of ultimate buyers or retailers. As the name might have suggested, value adding warehouses tend to increase the quotable prices of goods processed by their staff.
Long Term Storage Warehouses
There are certain warehouses which lease a small section of their premises to business corporations and banks for storing their important documents. The lessee company may request the staff of the warehousing company to visit their location and assess the documents to be warehoused. These documents are carefully bar-coded and a list is maintained for the same. The documents are then packed in pre-numbered cartons and sealed. These cartons are shipped to the warehouses where they are maintained by the warehousing company.
As the name might have suggested, these warehouses are privately owned, mostly by retail business corporations or engineering companies. These organizations need their private space to store their merchandise and inventory. At times these goods are seasonal in nature or purchased in bulk for forthcoming year. As for engineering companies, warehouses help to shelter and protect their movable assets and machinery. Private warehouses require a capital investment to be made by their owner, however these warehouses happen to be extremely cost-effective in the long run.
This category of warehouses refers to state-owned warehouses, generally used for maintaining stocks of agricultural produce throughout the years. At times, government warehouses are tagged as granaries in layman's terms. These warehouses are controlled and maintained by central or state food corporations only.
With automation and robotics being implemented in each and every sphere of our lives, warehousing business cannot be far behind. These warehouses depend on latest software technology, cranes and carriers to maintain the entire warehouse. Since there is a presence of complete automation, these warehouses require very little manpower for supervision of its working. Automated warehousing have smooth features like unloading, inventory maintenance, storage and reloading of goods.
From all the above information, we can realize the importance and size of warehousing businesses. You name a commodity and there is likely to be a warehouse specialized in handling it. Of course, there are some warehousing charges to be borne by manufacturers and traders, but the price is cost-effective considering the volume of commodities warehoused.