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  • Total anticipated volume of cargo for the specific storage location.
  • Numbers and types of independent types of goods (SKUs) needing to be accounted for.
  • Interior space adequate for the anticipated flow of work.
  • Need for handling equipment (MHE) for cargo items – MHE parking spaces, recharging, etc.
  • Duration stored goods will stay for / the duration the storage site may be required for.
  • Need for ancillary activities – repacking, labelling, kitting, break bulk, etc.
  • Speed at which throughput/ancillary activities may be required – multiple loading bays, large dispatch area, etc.
  • Need for special storage - cold chain, dangerous goods, etc.
  • Additional planned buffer stock required.

The individual volume needs of different organisations can vary. A generic list of volumes per common relief item can be found in the below table:

ItemEstimated Weight (Kilogram)Estimated Volume (Cubic Meters)
Blankets (Bale of 20)25-300.15 - 0.2
Body Soap (Carton of 50)100.02
Buckets (Nested Stack of 50)500.4
Cement (50 kg bag)500.04
Empty Jerry Can (10 Litre)0.50.01 - 0.02
Keep Cool Box2-50.025 - 0.075
Latrine Slab120.4
Laundry Soap (Carton of 50)100.018
Mosquito Net (Bale of 50)22-280.1 - 0.2
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) (Carton of 1,000 Sachet)200.05
Ready to Use Therapeutic Feeding (RUTF) (Carton of 150 Sachet)150.02
Sack of Grain (50 kg sack)500.18
Sleeping Mat (Bundle of 25)200.15
Tarpaulin (4 x 6 meter sheet) (Bale of 5)230.025
Tin of Vegetable Oil (1 Litre)10.001
Zinc Sheeting (Bundle of 20)350.025
Dry Sand (loose large grained - dense fine grained)1,450 - 1,8501

Actual items obtained from local or international sources may vary in volumes. Understanding the specific storage needs might involve obtaining the volumetric measurements and all special handling needs of all related relief items from either a supplier or a central distribution warehouse.

Irregular and Special Storage

As agencies attempt to plan out space need in storage locations, they may encounter bulky or irregular items. In addition to planning generic outside dimensions, space planners should also estimate the fully required volume to adequately store an item, not just the outside dimensions.

Irregular Shapes - Some irregular items, such as mechanical or farm equipment may have complex physical attributes that make space planning hard. When looking at highly irregular shapes, planners should consider the outside measurement of only the longest, widest and tallest parts of the item, as those are the parts that will come in contact with other stored items in a warehouse. To do this, planers should imagine an invisible box that is barely large enough to fit the irregular item, and use the “edges” of the “box” to calculate the total required space. In this way, the overall space requirement may actually be larger than they first appear.

Nested Cargo – Some cargo items can be neatly “nested,” meaning that they can rest inside of or occupy space inside of each other. Buckets – a common humanitarian item – can fit inside one another, taking up considerably less space when stored appropriately. When planning space, organisations should account for nested storage by measuring the outer dimensions of the items while stacked/nested, and not the outer dimensions of the individual unit. In this way, overall space requirement may actually be less than they first appear.