How to Calculate and Evaluate Space Utilization in Material Handling

2 minutes to read



Maximizing space utilization is more critical than ever before; lean methodologies, cost-effectiveness, increased efficiency, and productivity are key drivers of operational improvement in material handling. Warehouse space often represents 15% to 20% of the cost per order and moving to new space is expensive and time-consuming. Follow the subsequent steps to calculate warehouse volume capacity and take the action to assign someone responsible for ongoing analysis.   



Step 1: Calculate Warehouse Space Utilization for Material Handling

The optimal range of space utilization ratio is between 22%-27%. However, with automation, it’s possible to achieve higher densities. Use the steps to determine your current ratio.

  • Find the total available square footage by SUBTRACTING the square footage of all offices, restrooms, and other non-storage areas.


  • Determine the overhead height by ADDING the  height of all steel beams, suspended lighting, overhead fans, or other mechanical equipment (also on blueprint)


  • Calculate the warehouse available storage capacity (WASC) by MULTIPLYING available square footage x overhead height.


  • Calculate the Warehouse Storage Cube (WSC) by MULTIPLYING the width and length of racks times the height the inventory that’s stored. Tip: Look at the Blueprint for rack size and/or measure the racks.


  • Calculate warehouse space utilization by DIVIDING  your WSC by your WASC :
Step 2: Identify Areas of Material Handling Improvement

Check all that apply:

  • Do you use Vertical Space (Check with sprinkler design and fire code.)
  • Are you utilizing your department space correctly? (Ex: move activities that don’t require high overhead ceiling height into areas with low ceilings.)
  • Are inventories consolidated by type  (Consider implementing a dedicated put-away process.)
  • Do you match item sizes with accurately sized slots
  • Do you use drop-shipping when storing and shipping large items
  • Are you cross docking
  • are you using the entire depth of your storage (Review not only the effective use of the height of locations and/or consider double-depth racking.)
  • Are your shipping and receiving docks separate? (Consider combining shipping and receiving docks to save space.)
  • Do you have a mezzanine? (Consider installing a mezzanine to house functions that do not require high-bay storage.)
  • Reduce Inventory (Re-locate items that are not being sold at the anticipated velocity.)
How Automation can Help

Automation can increase the volume capacity by increasing the density of how totes/pallets are stored inside a facility, and some automation systems allow for new options in space utilization. For example, aisles may not require forklift-width or human-width sizing, as robotics and automation would pull cases from out behind others (depending on the system); thereby increasing the storage density. Automation can both be implemented in formerly human-centered storage spaces, or portions of existing facilities can be allocated to flexible robotic storage systems and AS/RS systems.

Want to know more?

Learn about Vecna Robotics’ entire fleet of self-driving vehicles from our Automated Material Handling and Hybrid Fulfillment brochures. Vecna will be displaying a wide range of vehicles, including its autonomous Tugger and Pallet Jack at booth #S4583. We’ll be showcasing our Automated Material Handling, Hybrid Fulfillment, and Workflow Optimization solutions, along with the self-driving vehicles and technology that fuels them.

See Vecna Robotics autonomous Tugger.