Using Minimum Warehouse Aisle Widths to Maximize Space

Aisle width design is essential in optimizing the space inside your warehouse. There are several important factors to consider, in which, there is no standard or exact measurement. It is largely depending on the type of products you are handling.
Forklift types and model also have a significant impact on the design of the distance between rack and shelf. Professional warehouse designers believe that 80 to 85 percent of filled floor space is the best efficiency. The capacity above that will not allow you to have enough area to move around.

Normally, warehouse designers work with these three aisle concepts and widths.

  • Wide aisle design: This is typical warehouse design with 12 feet of aisle width suitable for counterbalanced forklifts.
    If the aisle is narrower, then there will not be enough turning space for the fork lift.
  • Narrow aisle design: This is suitable for a more compact forklift design with about 8 feet of aisle width.
  • Very narrow aisle designs: This is the most modern design, in which the width of the aisle is 6 feet.

So, How Wide Should My Warehouse Aisles Be?

This is depending on the material handling equipment, your products, and the type of pallets in use. If you are considering to redesign your warehouse to narrow aisle configuration, it is quite effective to review the different type of forklifts that work with varying width of aisles

Here are the common forklift designs on today’s material handling equipment market and the minimum aisle widths they need to function.

  • Sit-down counterbalanced forklift: This is the most common type of fork lift founded in every warehouse. This type of forklift will require at least 12 feet aisle width to handle standard 48 inches pallets.
  • Stand-up deep-reach forklift: Operators stand up in this type of forklift design, which save space from the operator area by using the vertical driver profile rather than semi-horizontal position. It is still operating under the counterbalancing principle and able to handle the double pallet racking design. The aisle width required for this type of fork lift is 9-11 feet.
  • Stand-up single-reach forklift: Single-reach forklifts designed for standing drivers. They use less aisle room than their deep-reach cousins. That is because the fork extensions are only capable of operating in single pallet racking environments. The aisle width required for this type of fork lift is around 8 feet.
  • Turret or swing-mast narrow aisle forklift: Turret forklifts operate in tight and confined aisles. They have a unique design in that the mast can turns 90 degrees from the forklift body to let the driver move the machine through a tight corridor. Swing-mast or turret lifts need between four feet six inches and five feet six inches of aisle width to operate.
  • Narrow aisle order picker: These mini-forklifts work well in very narrow warehouse aisles as tight as 4 -5 feet.

Calculating Minimum Aisle Width for Forklifts
Determining the minimum aisle width in your warehouse is a very important decision.

Calculating the minimum aisle width for forklift travel and operation the knowledge of the exact forklift specifications. That starts by being familiar with your forklift characteristics and how it operates. Below are the information that you should consider for your forklift in order to design the suitable width of your aisle.

  • Outside dimensions: You need to know the dimensions of your fork lift (Height x width x length). The most important one is the width, because this will fit on to the aisle width when the fork lift pass through.
  • Turning radius: This is for the sit-down counterbalance fork lift. By design, most fork lift has a tight turning radius, but, usually it will be longer than their width, because of the line of fork extension.
  • Head and load length: This is the length from forklift rear to the end of the protruded fork.
  • Right angle stack: This measurement is the sum of the outside dimensions and the turning radius. It is the minimum distant your fork lift needs to move a pallet from pick up position to the ready to navigate along the aisle position.
  • Clearance: After you calculate the forklift’s maximum measurement, you need to add some clearance as a safety measure before fixing your minimum aisle width measurement.