From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Warehouse/Distribution Center Knowledgebase

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH
The system of distribution centers in North America is an unsung marvel of modern technology. When a customer orders a product, it is often removed from racks, packed, and ready for shipping within an hour, with little waste or inefficiency. Some distribution centers featue astounding levels of automation, with products conveyed, sorted, and routed at remarkably high speeds.

Nonetheless, some aspects of the work still require considerable manual labor. To one degree or another, distribution centers are likely to always require humans to put their hands on a box and lift. This knowledgebase summarizes a number of best practices used to minimize the strain on the human body and the extra time required for manual work.

Note that in the context of this knowledgebase, no distinction is made between a distribution center and a warehouse. The issues of concern are essentially the same, whether referring to a distribution center as a separate, specialized facility or a warehouse as one area within a production facility.


  • roller conveyors
  • powered conveyors
  • side access trucks/trailers
  • shipping cages
ConveyorInstalled Load2

Checking and sorting

  • conveyors
  • pallet lifts
  • lifter- transporters
  • sorting stations
Check2 Check1

Picking – Racks

  • profiling
  • bay configuration
  • shelf surfaces
  • lifting assists
  • lift truck work stations
  • picking method
PickRacl Rack2

Picking – Bins

  • additional levels
  • cutouts
  • carton orientation
  • vertical carousels
  • aprons
  • trays
Bin1 Bin2

Misc. dock issues

  • opening doors
  • dock leveler
  • dock lift
Dock1 Dock2


  • pallets
  • flow racks
See also:

Material handling


Special items

  • roller systems
  • turntables
  • vertical carousels
Spool1 Spool2