The process-oriented warehouse planning already takes into account in detail key positions relevant for planning such as assortment or stored goods, loading unit, and storage type during the so-called conceptual planning (planning lead time). Throughout the entire planning process, logistics, construction, and EDP aspects must be coordinated with each other depending on the process. Rough estimates are relatively rare.

The process-oriented warehouse planning contains all the building blocks of classic warehouse planning. In contrast to the classical approach, the process-oriented approach additionally examines process sections such as goods receipt, picking and goods issue in detail, and includes them in the overall planning during the mentioned planning lead time. Process interdependence makes this type of warehouse planning more difficult since even small changes to a process that may seem unimportant means that a prioritized workflow may no longer be functional. Nevertheless, modern warehouse planning should always be process-oriented.

Process-oriented warehouse planning in practice

As a rule, all existing or desired logistics processes are documented and have been examined using potential assessments. This also includes process variants that affect the warehouse layout, for example. Among the most common factors are the number of personnel, possible distances, structural conditions, and of course the product range. The resulting target processes show whether, for example, logistical aids such as hanger goods, carts, pallets, containers, or mixed cartons are advantageous in certain warehouse sections or whether, among other things, throughput can be increased with a high degree of automation.

Logistics planners must therefore always consider the overall effects of possible process changes – the respective growth potential, which is inevitably assumed in the case of a process change, must be examined as well as the later variability of a warehouse.

Holistic and customer-oriented processes thereby have priority. The rule is: It is not always the most expensive technology that has to be installed, but rather the one that is the most future-proof. This point of view is particularly important if the client only has a small financial scope at his or her disposal. So if mathematical algorithms already optimize processes, for example by accelerating them; then such a solution, even if not highly automated, should always be given priority. An example of this the computer-aided manual sorter picking.

The following section provides an overview of the individual steps of process-oriented warehouse planning and where they are usually applied. This does not necessarily have to be projected onto an entire warehouse, instead individual warehouse sections can also be considered.

Process-oriented warehouse planning process stages

  • Conceptual planning (specification sheet)
  • Process stage analyses for goods receipt and similar processes
  • Detailed planning (specification sheet – contractor)
  • Project management (client)
  • Approval of the contracted components (client)

Warehouse planning: potential scenarios

  • Greenfield planning (new construction)
  • Modernization and optimization of existing processes and storage technology
  • Expansion of the existing logistics

The challenges of process-oriented warehouse planning are primarily temporal: Information is taken into account that on the one hand reflects the present, but on the other hand, lies far into the future – also because customers, suppliers, and competitors constantly make new demands. The collected actual data are therefore also subjected to a plausibility assessment. For all parties involved, it serves as a basis for all aspects influencing the warehouse.

Important components for process-oriented warehouse planning

  • Storage goods: general cargo, bulk goods; storage aids: pallets, containers
  • Load unit: type, dimension, weight
  • Storage system: unit storage, picking warehouse
  • Storage types: floor storage, shelf storage
  • Shelf type: pallet racks, continuous racks
  • Storage organization: fixed or free storage space
  • Warehouse organization: storage location management, warehouse inventory management, picking, warehouse management system
  • Operation: manual, mechanical, automated
  • Storage and retrieval equipment: forklift trucks, rail-guided storage and retrieval equipment, aisle width
  • Safety: safety equipment, fire prevention
  • Warehouse environment: other sections, facilities

(Source – Heinrich Martin, Transport und Logistik, 8. edition, year 2011, page 351)

Criteria for comparison are, for example:

  • Investment, operating costs
  • Storage space costs(pallet/month)
  • Handling costs (pallet/month)
  • Area and space requirements
  • Level of automation
  • Warehouse strategy, warehouse flexibility
  • Personnel
  • Expansion options


In practice, process-oriented warehouse planning focuses not only on economic considerations but also on technical capacities, the possible conveyor landscape and the degree of automation. The difficulty here is that the more detailed the individual process stages, such as goods receipt, picking, packing, or goods issue, are mapped during planning, the more time-consuming the overall project becomes. Possible points of friction are minimized, however.

For more information about Warehouse Management, see also Warehouse Functions and Warehouse Capacity.

Source Teaser image: L’Oreal, Nottingham / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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