It’s all about the CUBE

Picture source:


INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – July 2013 Volume 45 Number 7

The cube of handled articles, storage locations, and other facets of design and operation can be a powerful tool in warehouse operations. It can be powerful by capturing the cube of every SKU, as well as the cube of truck, container or other transportation. Each individual SKU or line item in the warehouse, operators should have a record of the length, width and height of the issue unit, along with,expressed as cubic feet, the length multiplied by width multiplied by height.

From time to time, the limiting factor of material handling keep changing from weight of the material that can be carried by one person, number of unit loads of transporters and handlers. The cube can make impact on the main aspects of warehouse and distribution, warehouse design, equipment selection and operations.

Sizing the facility is the most important use of cube data for translating sales units into physical warehouse terms. If there are specific information about daily sales and cubic measurement of the issue unit, the inventory can be determine in cubic feet by multiplying the three pieces of information. Knowing the physical units required makes a size calculation straightforward and rational.

Selecting a handling equipment can be expressed by function of weight capacity, size capacity and throughput requirements. The combination spells out the specification needed to choose handling equipment wisely and same reason can also be used to select dock equipment. Many warehouses buy picking carts from a catalog with only one criteria which is the carts fit in the aisles, but in reality the design of a cart should be a function of the required capacity.

Facility design and purchased equipment come together with planning and the human element for warehouse operations. The cube can helps a warehouse with a great design and efficient equipment turning into inefficient when the operations fail. While warehouse capacity is the facility’s total cube, the figure does not acknowledge space lots to aisles, clearances and sprinkler systems. The overall capacity is the cube of all the storage  slots compared to the total warehouse cube.

Warehouses use many means to measure pick productivity. For example, orders filled per man-hour would not be consistent in an operation that does long and complicated repack orders as well as full unit load shipments.

Using an accessible and current database of cube can generate a series of rational decisions in warehouse design, package design, equipment requirements and many other important factors in distribution. It integrates the function of facility design, equipment selection and operations for better efficiency, less waste and lower costs.

The full version of the article is available in IIE Laboratory. It is also readable online for IIE member through accessing the website. Contact Maya (President of IIE BINUS University Chapter) at for more information on the IIE membership.