It’s light out in the

The value of
“warehousing” of some kind has been known from our earliest history.
Since primeval times, living creatures have stored food in periods of plenty to
provide nourishment when little is available. The book of Genesis in the Bible
tells how Joseph became a hero in Egypt by showing the people of the country
how to warehouse agricultural surplus for famine years.

The origin of warehouse is difficult to pinpoint. As the
European began to discover new shipping trade routes all over the world, the
importance of warehouses grew for the storage of the product and commodities
which were brought from far-away places. The first known commercial warehouse
was built in Venice, a center of major trade route. In the late 1800s, in the
united states, transportation between port cities and inland cities occurred
mainly by railroad. Freight cars were used as warehouses on wheels. By the end
of World War I hand trucks were used for material handling in warehouses and
stacking was done by hand, and stacking heights were designed in 8-to 12-foot
range. During World War II, the fork lift truck and wooden pallets were
introduced. Stacking height of merchandise was increased to 30 feet, nearly a
300 percent increase due the mass production of forklift truck. Warehousing
systems have seen a continuous growth throughout the history, they have been
moving forward from local storehouses during the middle ages to
multi-million-dollar facilities. In 1960’s and 1970’s in the US automated warehousing
meant automated storage/Retrieval systems (AS/RS). After the late 1980s the
AS/RS systems became obsolete and more emphasis was paid on reducing
inventories, small batch production and Just in time delivery.

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Traditional warehousing continuously is declining since the
last decade of the 20th century with the introduction of Just in Time (JIT)
techniques which are specially designed to enhance the return on investment
(ROI) of a business by mitigating in process inventory.

Today, warehousing involves a great deal more than the
stockpiling of foodstuffs. As civilization has developed, warehousing has
become broader, more diverse, more complex and with the rise in the trend of internet,
e-commerce, mobile communications and urbanization, a revolution in retail has
emerged as a result, changing the nature of the warehouse. Many warehouses are
switching off their lights and going dark. Dark warehouse is a term that is
used for warehouses that do not require lights for regular/general operations.
Such warehouses operate without any human interventions with the help of
technologies such as autonomous guided material handling equipment, automatic
identification and warehouse execution systems; hence these are fully automated
warehouses. Recently the trend of dark warehouse is increasing among
supermarkets and online retailers. Freezer warehouses, cold storage and sectors
such as pharmaceuticals and beverages where sub-zero temperature conditions do
exist; are the places that require humans to work under adverse conditions, are
highly suitable for the application of dark warehousing. Dark warehouse
application becomes easy for operations having low variations. Advancement in
technology has made it possible to utilize the warehouse space properly by
increasing the vertical storage capacity. Technology such as Automatic
retrieval systems, stacker cranes make it possible to work in narrow aisles and
stack palletized cased goods to and from the racks up to height more than 100
feet of the ground. Fully automation will provide error free operation, right
alignment of goods along with optimum storage space and zero waste because of
proper material handling. Goods can be easily tracked from point of origin to
shipping point hence real-time inventory control.

Beside all the development in the
material handling technology in the last decade, implementation of dark
warehouse is facing many challenges. Main challenge in the widespread
adaptation is high initial investment cost primarily related with automation. Another
barrier to the wide adaptation is requirement of the flexibility for e-commerce
companies to handle large variety of products. Instead of adopting fully dark
warehouse facility companies may prefer zones of automation. It is also difficult
to completely remove the human interventions. For example, in the conventional
warehouse mislabeled or torn packages are send back to be repaired by workers;
that is not feasible in dark warehouses.


“Every coin has two sides” dark
warehousing also has some risk associated with it.

Highly dense storage with narrow
aisles, are often conductive to fire spread. Large and tall warehouses increase
the potential fuel load that directly Impact on fire loss experience and fire
protection system Increase in vertical storage capacity may overload racks and
increases the potential of roof collapse for racks that support the building

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