Being such vast places, warehouses can be cold environments to work in, especially in the food sector but operatives are often provided with protective clothing including coats and gloves to combat the chill.
Warehouses come in varying shapes and sizes depending on their purpose and the industry they serve including retail, parcel and mail, food, transport, manufacturing, and automotive.
Retail distribution centres receive goods from suppliers and rapidly ship them out to stores, often receiving goods in the morning and shipping them out towards the end of the same day.
The Coop group is a great example of a company that utilises distribution centres in its supply chain. Coop set up Britain’s first ever national distribution network in 1874. Now, with 12 depots across the UK, some of the larger depots employing in excess of 1,200 colleagues, over 10 million cases of products are picked ready for delivery to more than 2,600 stores nationwide.
As a warehouse worker for an organisation like the Coop you would usually work within one area of the depot, whether that be chilled, frozen or ambient. Spending most of your day working on the depot floor updating stock and completing daily tasks.
These distribution centres are known for their hustle and bustle, with the necessity to move the products quickly and keep up with the rigorous picking and shipping targets.
Fulfilment Centres are similar to distribution centres in many ways with the exception of their ship out process. Instead of shipping to stores, fulfilment centres ship direct to consumers on demand through individual consumer orders.
These fulfilment centres have become synonymous with the walking distances staff need to cover to collect products for shipping. The warehouses are expansive, with wide aisle racking as far as the eye can see for the efficient storage of goods, this can result in warehouse staff walking up to 18 miles a day while carrying out their duties.
Automated Warehouses are becoming the norm as technology moves quickly and with it the opportunities we have available to help streamline our processes.
Automation within a warehouse includes major automation installations such as cranes and carriers that require very little manpower to supervise, or self-driving robots that work alongside warehouse operatives and assist them in carrying out their duties.
DHL are just one example of a major logistics company who have embraced the advancement in technology with the use of fully autonomous self-driving robots. These robots learn and share the most efficient travel route, to maximise overall pick efficiency and reduce picker travel time.
Automated warehouses can be popular places to work for warehouse operatives. Thanks to the shared workload between humans and machines, the walking and carrying duties attributed to pickers and packers are often reduced in comparison to a non-automated distribution centre.
Specialised warehouses would include climate-controlled stores for frozen products, humidity-controlled environments for botanical products and even dirt-free facilities that keep electrical products safe.