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Warehouse Classes: Guide to Their Characteristics And Differences

Posted by Anna Khaletskaya on 21.05.2021
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Warehouse Classes: Guide to Their Characteristics And Differences

A warehouse is an important part of the logistics processes of almost any business. Of particular importance is a storehouse for trade companies and e-commerce. For such kinds of enterprises, a warehouse is an absolute necessity. However, before building, buying, or renting a warehouse, it is needed to find out which classes of storage facilities exist.

In this article, you will get to know the general classification rules, the basic requirements for warehouses of different classes, and the differences between them. It’ll help you make the right choice. We will also present a comparison of different class warehouses and answer frequently asked questions. 

Warehouse definition and functions

A warehouse is a premise, a territory, or a complex for storing goods and providing warehousing services. Storage facilities are used by manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, transport and logistics companies, customs, etc. The main purpose of the warehouse is to concentrate and store stocks and ensure the uninterrupted accomplishment of customers’ orders. 

The main functions of the warehouses are:

  • warehousing and storage of goods;
  • transformation of a production line into a consumer product;
  • material flows transformation;
  • transportation costs reduction;
  • warehousing service provision.
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Therefore, the warehouse is intended not only for storage. A range of the warehouse services are commonly the following:

  • unloading and loading of transport;
  • incoming goods reception, quality control, quantity calculation;
  • product placing in the warehouse;
  • packaging, labeling, and preparation for delivery;
  • stock movement.

Warehouse classification by classes

There are many warehouse classifications: by the degree of mechanization, by type of product, by storage conditions, by type of storage facilities, etc. But the most popular classification is the one developed by brokerage company Knight Frank. It is based on the technical parameters of warehouses, infrastructural facilities, and engineering communications. 

Class A+ warehouse characteristics

Class A+ warehouses are modernized facilities that were constructed specially for warehouse logistics needs. They are built of high-quality materials, have the latest equipment, as well as an advantageous location and a convenient traffic interchange. It’s a kind of “first-class” storage facility.

It is built of light-gauge constructures and fireproof sandwich panels. The floors of such storehouses are concrete and additionally coated with anti-dust covering to ensure durability. 

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The main feature of Class A+ warehouses is the large distance between columns (at least 12 meters) and between spans (at least 24 meters). These peculiarities provide the placement of the racking equipment and planning the warehouse’s space so that the loaders can freely take the goods and turn around without creating congestion. 

Other technical requirements for Class A+ warehouses include high ceilings (at least 13 meters). This makes it possible to install multi-storeyed shelving equipment. Thus, a company can significantly expand the usable warehouse space and store more goods. 

To make the loading and unloading in the warehouse as efficient as possible, the Class A+ storehouse is equipped with automatic dock-type gates. According to the Knight Frank classification, at least 1 unit must be for every 500 square meters of warehouse space. 

There are temperature and humidity control, ventilation, air conditioning, fire extinguishing system, and CCTV monitoring in the warehouse. It is also equipped with fire and security alarm systems. There are all communication facilities, own electrical substation, and a heating unit in the Class A+ warehouse. Fiber-optic materials provide communication and Internet access.

Warehouses of this class have guarded ennobled territory, parking lots for employees, and cargo transport.  Offices and utility rooms are also located nearby.

What is the difference between a Class A warehouse and a Class A facility?

The warehouses of this class are also built according to the requirements of modern logistics. These are specialized premises with the necessary equipment and communications, that are located near the central highways. Their characteristics are almost identical to those of Class A+.

However, such warehouses differ in ceiling height. In the class A premise it is lower — from 10 meters. For shelving storage, you should select equipment that can be installed according to these technical characteristics. 

Unlike Class A+ warehouses, Сlass A facilities have fewer dock-type gates. According to the Knight Frank classification, at least 1 unit must be for every 700 square meters. 

Requirements for a Class B+ warehouse

Class B+ includes facilities that were built or renovated as a warehouse. They are also suitable for different types of goods storage and meet the requirements of warehouse logistics. 

As Class A+ and A warehouses, Class B+ premises have all the necessary conditions for storing goods in optimal conditions. There are ventilation systems and temperature control in these storehouses. However, their rental cost is lower because they differ in technical specifications.

For example, the ceiling height in such warehouses is lower. According to the requirements of the Knight Frank brokerage agency classification, it must be at least 8 meters. This means that these warehouses need suitable shelving equipment. In addition, the number of dock-type gates at such facilities is at least 1 for every 1,000 square meters of a warehouse. Because of this, the loading/unloading speed can be lower than one of upper class warehouses. 

Class B warehouse: basic characteristics

Unlike warehouses of previous classes, Class B objects are old buildings. They need to be reconstructed to meet modern warehouse logistics standards. In addition, Class B warehouses often have many floors, which complicates warehouse operations. Therefore, among the main requirements for this class storehouses is the presence of goods lifts with a carrying capacity of not less than 3 tons. 

The minimum ceiling height of Class B warehouses is 6 meters, so it is difficult to install multi-level shelving equipment in such premises. This means that the useful warehouse space may not be used efficiently. 

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In addition, due to the classification Class B warehouses do not need to meet the requirement of minimum permissible load on the floor. Therefore, if a company plans to use warehouse equipment for cargo movement at such facilities, it is important to consider this fact. 

Among the advantages of these warehouses is the presence of a ramp for loading and unloading. As a rule, the premises are connected to the central heating system or have their boiler station. There are fire alarms and fire hydrants/hoses. 

Class B facilities will be a profitable solution for companies that want to save on warehouse rental and at the same time be sure of the safe storage of their products. However, it may be necessary for the tenant or landlord to make further improvements, such as installing a modern security system.

Class C warehouse features

Such facilities were not originally used as warehouses. Class C storehouses are reconstructed hangars, manufacturing workshops, and other non-core premises. Usually, the warehouses of this class are multi-storeyed. Therefore, due to the Knight Frank classification, such premises should have freight elevators, but it is not obligatory. 

The minimum ceiling height is 4 meters. Because of this, the company cannot install the shelving equipment in most cases. Free movement of heavy trucks for loading/unloading inside the warehouse is possible due to the gate at zero level. The ventilation and heating system ensures constant temperature and optimal humidity. There is physical security in the warehouse territory. These warehouses are located at some distance from highways but have convenient access roads. There are maneuvering and parking areas for trucks on the storehouse territory.

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Class C warehouses are widely represented in the Ukrainian logistics real estate market. However, renting such a storehouse, you should take into account that the building needs modernization: construction of ramps, installation of necessary warehouse equipment, improvement of floor covering. The rental cost is lower, but the additional cost for upgrading and maintaining the facility should be also considered. 

Class D warehouse specifications

These warehouses are unprofitable properties that are not adapted for storage needs. These buildings are former hangars, basements, and other premises that were previously used for production purposes. 

Warehouse equipment is rarely installed in such storehouses. Therefore, the temperature inside the premises depends on the season. They are suitable only for goods that do not require special storage conditions.

Upgrading Class D warehouses makes no sense, as their refurbishment will cost more than demolition and construction of a storehouse from scratch. There are no special requirements for these warehouses in the Knight Frank classification. Such premises must be only in a serviceable condition. Low price is considered their significant advantage.

How to choose an appropriate class of a warehouse

To provide efficient warehouse logistics, the business has to сhoose the storehouse responsibly. The stored unit cost depends directly on it and, as a result, the company’s profit.

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Warehouses differ in many parameters, which at first sight are difficult to understand. Before researching the logistics real estate market,  decide on the criteria for the premises. You should not select the storehouse without a clear plan. The size and quality of the premises, available communications, and special equipment, required temperature control, and the presence of management and security systems are important factors in the choice of the warehouse.

Depending on the type of stored product it is also possible to select a proper class of warehouse. For example, Class A+ and A warehouses are suitable for the storage of complex and sensitive electronic equipment, foodstuff, and medical products. In the Class B+ and B warehouses, you can store food, household appliances, electronics, equipment. Non-grocery goods, logging, textiles, building materials, plastic, and metal products can be kept in Class C warehouses. Class D warehouses are suitable for the short-duration storage of agricultural products, auto parts, glass articles, textiles.

Consider which characteristics of the warehouse are the most important for your enterprise. You should also pay attention to the location of the storehouse, availability of convenient access roads and transport interchange. It affects transportation costs.

Comparative characteristics of different classes of warehouse

For comparison of the different warehouse classes, we offer you the following table based on the classification made by the Knight Frank brokerage agency. Consider that not all requirements are obligatory, and you should get acquainted with all characteristics of a particular storehouse.

Specifications by classes A+ABB+CD
Ceilling heights from 13 mfrom 10 m from 8 m from 6 mfrom 4 many
Floor covering anti-dustinganti-dustinganti-dustingconcrete or asphalt coatingconcrete or asphalt coatingconcrete or asphalt coating
Ventilation and air-conditioning systems++++no requirements
Energy supply and utilities++++no requirements
Security system ++++no requirementsno requirements
Office and utility space +++++
Parking area +++++
Improved land+++++
Privately owned or located near a branch railway line+no requirementsno requirementsno requirements

Frequently asked questions about warehouse classes

🔹 What are other warehouse classifications in logistics?

The classification of warehouses by classes is popular, but not the only one. There are many classifications according to different criteria: by design, by a number of users, by the degree of mechanization, by the possibility of goods delivery and export, by a broad range of goods, by the height of stowage, etc.

🔸 What are the most popular warehouse classes in Ukraine?

The Ukrainian logistics real estate market is mainly represented by lower-class warehouses — C and D. It is not surprising, because the lower requirements for premises, the more options comply with them. However, the demand for logistics complexes and well-equipped warehouses is evolving, and the share of Class A and B warehouses will therefore increase in the future.

🔹 Where can I find warehouses of different classes in Ukraine?

On WareTeka, you can find a warehouse for your company’s needs. Our platform is the largest warehouse base in Ukraine. Select the storehouse on the site and specify the storage facility’s class, type, and location. You can also mark the necessary warehouse equipment in additional search options.

Conclusions

There is no unified standard for warehouse classification in Ukraine. The above-mentioned Knight Frank classification is only a recommendation, so some storehouses may differ in their characteristics or even belong to the related classes. Selecting a warehouse, pay attention not only to its class but also to all its characteristics as a whole.

In choosing a storehouse, take into account the logistics needs of your company. It is not necessary to choose Class A or A+ warehouse to provide special storage conditions for your goods. For example, a class B warehouse can meet all your requirements and have a better traffic interchange. Consider various variants of warehouses to avoid overpaying for unnecessary features and to set up optimal warehouse logistics for your business.

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