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The boom in ecommerce means our warehouses are stocking more items than ever before.

Over the last decade, as Americans have become increasingly reliant on online shopping for everything from groceries to consumer goods, our warehouses have been full to the brim trying to keep up. While we’re all grateful for the increase in business, it has made it much harder to keep the items we need in stock – or to know how much space we need to stock them.

One of the little tricks warehouses can always stand to know is how to calculate shelf capacity. By knowing exactly how much your shelves can hold, and how much they already have, you can organize your inventory much more quickly and save yourself a lot of confusion and miscounts down the road.


Calculating Warehouse Shelf Capacity

Calculating the capacity of your warehouse shelves or pallet racks might involve a little more math than you’re comfortable with, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

  • Start by measuring how many items you store on each shelf. If you have pre-wrapped pallets, or even a general weight guideline for packages and items on each shelf, start by calculating the combined weight of each package on the shelf.
  • Next, identify any potential weight limits set by the manufacturer. Even if you have room to spare, pallets or boxes that exceed the posted weight limits of your shelves and pallet rack parts can become a dangerous hazard. Review your current shelving equipment to get an idea of just what their weight limits are.
  • Multiply the weight of your heaviest package by the number of pallets you keep on each shelf. This is where the math comes in, but it’ll tell you exactly how much weight you’re looking at, and how that could compare to the weight limit of each shelf.
  • Next, calculate the dimensions of the most common packaging you use. Whether your items are pre-palletized, you palletize them as they arrive, or even if you just deal in larger shipping boxes of individual items, measure as many as you can to calculate the rough average dimensions (height, width, and depth) of each package you use.
  • Compare those dimensions to the lengths of your shelving units. Ideally you’re using a uniform length for each one of your pallet racks and shelves (to better arrange your aisles, of course), so divide the length and height of those shelves by the length and height of your packaging to figure out how many of each one you can fit on each shelf – factoring in any potential weight restrictions, of course.

Like we said, there’s going to be a little math involved, but as soon as you get these formulas down, you should have a greater understanding of exactly how many items your warehouse can store.

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