As the growth of e-commerce and one-day delivery makes the Lehigh Valley one of the fastest-growing freight corridors in the nation, companies are increasingly looking for ways to move goods through the region more efficiently. High cube and automated warehouses are the latest trend that carries the potential to bring positive and negative impacts to the region. This shift in how warehouses operate will push the limits of local codes and regulations and require careful consideration by municipal governments. However, there are several steps municipalities can take to better manage the location, size and look of this emerging development trend.

What is High Cube and Automated Warehousing?

High cube and automated warehouses are differentiated from traditional warehouses because of their height, which to date, have been proposed up to 180 feet tall. They are highly automated, with newer warehouses being built for specific uses utilizing rack systems that also serve as the building’s structure. The rack system is then wrapped with a metal skin that serves as the building’s walls.

These tall structures typically integrate Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) to maximize storage space availability, and for the processing of goods in a more efficient manner than traditional human-manipulated storage movement systems. The intricate racking system increases the efficiency of goods moving into and out of these warehouses, with faster turnaround times for trucks, theoretically reducing the time a driver needs to stage or park.

High Cube Warehouses utilize automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) to move and retrieve goods. Photo Courtesy of Westphalia Technologies, INC.

Traditional warehouses utilize people operated forklifts to move goods. LVPC file photo.