High bay warehouse

A high bay warehouse (HRL) is a storage system with racks from a height of 12m and a maximum height of 50m. The system can contain from a few thousand to several hundred thousand pallet spaces.

High bay warehouse definition

High bay warehouses are racking systems with height between 12 - 50 meters for storage of goods, often they are made of steel structures. The system is always constructed with an aisle between two racks, where the storage and retrieval machines (SRM) can move and coordinate the goods. A high-bay warehouse is usually operated by a fully automated warehouse management system. Computer systems are used for goods storage and retrieval. High bay warehouses can generally also be operated manually or in mixed forms.  

Designs of a high bay warehouse

High-bay warehouses come in different designs. The types differ in their management (manual or automatic): from fully automatic high-bay warehouses in silo design to manually operated racking systems and shelf racks to various other construction variants and forms, there are many different types of high-bay warehouses. Silo design means that the racking is constructed to support the roof and facade, as well as all cabling and systems. Companies with an extensive product portfolio, in particular, are increasingly turning to an automated high-bay warehouse. Automated warehouses use stacker cranes and conveyor systems to keep the flow of goods efficient and fast. 

When storing goods on pallets in a pallet warehouse, attention should be paid to optimal space utilization in order to fully utilize all areas. In high-bay warehouses, pallet racks and heavy-duty racks are mostly used. There are also the following types of racks:  

  • Shelf racks 
  • Cantilever racks 
  • Flow racks 
  • Wide span racks 
  • Platform systems 
  • Paternoster/lift racks 

How is a high bay warehouse used?

Due to the high space utilization of a high-bay warehouse, many goods and merchandise can be effectively stored in a confined space. In an automated high bay warehouse, people do not have direct access to the goods stored in the warehouse. Only the stacker cranes have the possibility to access the pallets individually. They move within a row between two high racks and are operated by automatic control. On request, the stacker crane moves to a high rack, picks up the required products and transports them to the appropriate workstations.  

High bay warehouse advantages

Due to their height, high-bay warehouses offer large storage capacities and can utilize spaces up to the ceiling. Another advantage is that the high-bay warehouse, in conjunction with an appropriate system, usually operates automatically, thus saving personnel costs and avoiding damage to goods. The processes are optimally accelerated by the high performance of automatic warehouses. By integrating fully automated systems, the entire logistics can be efficiently controlled. The use of technical solutions can also save storage costs. 

High bay warehouse disadvantages

First, high investment costs are necessary for a high-bay warehouse, and ongoing maintenance also requires high investments in some cases. Due to the design of a HRL, flexibility is severely limited: Rebuilding the hall or adapting rows of racks always involves a great deal of effort, since in such cases an entire row has to be blocked. The effort of stabilizing the racks increases with the height. For example, with a warehouse of 50 m height, optimizations or adjustments have to be carried out more often than with a lower warehouse.  

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