Warehouse Aisle Widths – More To Think About Than You Realise


Warehouse aisle widths play an integral role in storage, material handling, shipping and utilization of infrastructure, which is in this case the available space. The warehouse industry has changed phenomenally over the last few decades. About fifty years back, the primary objective was to store as much material or load as possible in a high density pattern for as long as possible. Today, the focus is more on storing smaller or less load in a spacious or more flexible manner which can speed up loading, unloading, storing and eventual shipping.

How functional, convenient, well organized and well utilized a warehouse is will depend on the warehouse layout, in particular the aisles. Typically, there are three types of warehouse aisle widths the wide aisles, narrow aisles and very narrow aisles. The wide warehouse aisle widths are typically 11 feet to 12 feet. The narrow warehouse aisle widths are normally 8 feet to 10 feet. The very narrow warehouse aisle widths are usually 6 feet or less.

All the three types of warehouse aisle widths have their share of pros and cons. Which type of aisle width will work for you will depend on what kind of load you are handling, the size of each load including its dimensions and weight, the shape of your warehouse as well as the space. The space of the warehouse has to be assessed carefully because there would be some spaces which are manoeuvrable due to their shape while some spaces would not be manoeuvrable.

Another significant element that will determine your warehouse aisle widths is the kind of equipment you are using and how you intend to approach warehouse slotting. If you are using the traditional lift truck or forklift then you need wide warehouse aisle widths. Stand up reach or double deep trucks are ideal for narrow warehouse aisle widths while very narrow aisles require smaller vehicles or equipments. Typically, lift trucks or similar manned vehicles are not used in very narrow warehouse aisle widths. Stand-up counterbalanced, stand-up straddle, side loaders, walkie counterbalanced stacker, walkie straddle stacker and walkie reach stackers are usually what you would be using for narrow aisles or very narrow aisles.

Very narrow aisles or narrow aisles are good in terms of space utilization as you can store much more loads than a warehouse with wide aisles. However, with wide aisles, you get much more flexibility and loading or offloading becomes convenient. You can also pull in a trailer and quicken the process of shipping out the load from your warehouse with wide aisles.

Whichever type of warehouse aisle widths you choose to go with, do an assessment of your infrastructure, loads, capacity required and the flexibility and manoeuvrability you need.

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