A warehouse is a commercial building for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns and villages. They usually have loading docks to load and unload goods from trucks. Sometimes warehouses are designed for the loading and unloading of goods directly from railways, airports, or seaports. They often have cranes and forklifts for moving goods, which are usually placed on ISO standard pallets loaded into pallet racks. Stored goods can include any raw materials, packing materials, spare parts, components, or finished goods associated with agriculture, manufacturing and production.
Historically warehouses were a dominant part of the urban landscape from the start of the Industrial Revolution through the 19th century and into the twentieth century. The buildings remained when their original usage had changed. There are four identifiable types of warehouses.The cotton industry rose with the development of the warehouse, and all five types were represented in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Warehouses of that period in Manchester were often lavishly decorated, but modern warehouses are more functional.
Warehouse allow transport optimization along the supply chain, and allow companies to work with an optimal inventory (economic order quantity) regarding service quality. For example, at the terminal point of a transport system it is necessary to stockpile produce until a full load can be transported. Warehouses can also be used to store the unloaded goods from the vessel.
In industries whose goods require a period of maturation between production and retail, such as viniculture and cheesemaking, warehouses can be used to store the goods in large quantities.