If your company is looking for warehousing space, you may be able to scout both inside and outside the facility, depending on your products. While the term “outdoor warehouse storage” may seem like oxymoron, some warehousing providers can store certain products in the open air outside of the warehouse but within the same secure warehousing campus. In this article, we explore outdoor warehouse storage and tell you what to look for in a 3PL that offers it.
What is outdoor warehouse storage?
Outdoor warehouse storage is storage of product outside of the four walls of a warehouse, but on a warehousing provider’s property and under its care. This doesn’t mean that products are haphazardly thrown ‘out back.’ It means that the 3PL you’re working with has prepared space on its property to store certain types of products that can withstand the elements.
The main benefit of an outdoor warehousing that it’s cheaper than regular indoor storage. It’s also a good solution for large, weather-resistant products that require limited touches by warehouse associates (e.g., temporary storage for a large construction project).
Having the option of outdoor warehousing can be beneficial at a time when warehouse vacancy rates are at all-time lows across the US. If your products are hearty enough to be stored outside, you may have a much easier time finding warehouse space than your inside-only competitors.
Once stored outside, products are contracted for warehousing and distribution services just like any indoor product would be. Products can be loaded onto a flatbed truck or standard 53’ trailer when they’re ready for distribution.
Importantly, there are only a few types of products that are suitable for outdoor warehouse storage. Some of the ones we’ve encountered at Kanban have included large, sealed reels of fiber optic cable, treated lumber, and certain types of metal-based products. The products are typically wrapped in a protective covering by the manufacturer or wrapped by the 3PL provider upon arrival.
What to look for in a 3PL that offers outdoor warehouse storage?
The following characteristics can determine if your 3PL provider is equipped to store and protect your products outdoors.
- Clean, solid ground. You want to make sure that your provider is storing product on sturdy ground like prepared concrete or stone that drains properly and will be free of puddles and mud.
- Secured area. Your provider should keep your products secure in a fenced area with locked gates.
- Adequate lighting. The storage area should include lighting so that associates can inspect product day or night.
- Special forklifts. Your provider should have a special type of forklift – a pneumatic tire forklift – that can handle heavy loads and operate both inside and outside the warehouse (most indoor forklifts cannot operate outside).
- Easy access for trucks. Ideally, your provider’s outdoor storage area will include space for a truck to enter and exit in order to limit the distance that product must travel on a forklift.
Outdoor space for containers too
In addition to products, outdoor 3PL storage can also be used to store shipping containers.
When warehouses are full of product, and warehouse yards are full of containers waiting to be unloaded, supply chain congestion ensues. This is what plagued the supply chain in 2021 and has continued into 2022. This logjam drastically slows operations and makes it difficult to perform inbound and outbound distribution.
By partnering with a 3PL provider that offers container yard services, you can have a place to store containers as they await unloading. For instance, such a yard may allow you to drop a trailer at the destination warehouse during off hours so the driver can head home or to another stop. Yards can also store empty containers once they’re unloaded and ready to head back to the port or railyard.
When it comes to mitigating current supply chain challenges, this giant parking lot can be a very big deal for companies needing a temporary home for containers.
Turn to Kanban Logistics for outdoor warehouse space in NC
Located in Eastern North Carolina, Kanban Logistics’ warehouse campuses offer over 1 million square feet of warehouse space – and even more space outside. Some of our facilities are equipped with outdoor storage yards, which are fenced and gated, and offer clean and sturdy storage for your heartiest products. To learn more about Kanban’s warehousing capabilities – both inside and outside – contact us today.