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What size should the reception area be for offloading trucks?


This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint

When trucks are offloading in our warehouse there doesn’t seem to be enough space in the ‘reception area’ to offload an entire truck. How can I calculate the dimensions that are needed to expand the reception area?

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It sounds as though you are offloading the whole truck before you move the cargo into the warehouse.

This is often recommended in theory, although in practice in the field it is common to offload cargo straight into the warehouse, keeping a tally (count) as each item passes the door: this saves a great deal of outside space (and thus reduces the size of the compound needed for your operation) and also protects the cargo from rain, sun, etc.

You don’t say if you are unloading containers or if the cargo is palletised. In any event, the area of the reception dispatch area should be:

• the area used by the Contents of the truck/container (C), plus

• the area needed for Manoeuvring pallet jacks or forklift trucks used to move the materials into the warehouse (M): this will depend on the size of your moving equipment and the shape of the reception area, plus

• sufficient space around the area for you to walk around and conduct a Visual inspection of the materials on their arrival (V) (and to open sample packages as appropriate).

This can be summarised as:

Reception Area = C + M + V

If the materials are not palletised, or if the pallets are packed in double layers, you will need a greater area as you will not be able to pile up the cargo on the ground as high as it was packed on the truck or in the container. For example, if you think you can pile the cargo only up to about 4’, you will need twice the area of an 8’6”-tall container.

This question was recently sent to an HLA member by a colleague in the field.

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Hi Humanitarian Logistics Association

Thanks for your question. If you want to work out the actual space space for manoeuvring trucks, you might like to look at pages 4/ 19 ff of the document linked to below:

Let us know how you get on!

Kind regards, Leigh

LC Jones

Civil and Structural Engineer

RedR KnowledgePoint Moderator


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Thanks very much for the useful additional information, Leigh!

Humanitarian Logistics Association gravatar imageHumanitarian Logistics Association ( 2017-09-06 09:41:54 -0500 )edit

Another consideration is what items you're recieving, what mix of items there are in the delivery, and how you will be storing them internally. It's not uncommon for trucks to be loaded with the heaviest items on the bottom, but this is not necessaritly the order you might put them inside your warehouse. So you may want to include extra space in an unloading area if you're regularly recieving delivieries with a wide variety of items.

Finally, the method by which you're unloading the trucks will make a difference - forklifts, pallet trucks etc (while very rare and sought after in humanitarian warehousing!) will need greater space and possibly specific smooth flooring, if you're resorting to people power (which happens often, particularly in emergency contexts) will need less space for unloading, but pssibly more for storage.

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You are absolutely right on both counts, Tom. Thank you for the useful caveats. The original question came from a protracted operation in the Middle East which has handling equipment, but our experience is indeed that (especially in Africa and in many emergencies) head loading is much more common.

Humanitarian Logistics Association gravatar imageHumanitarian Logistics Association ( 2017-09-06 09:40:40 -0500 )edit
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2017-08-28 12:43:28 -0500
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