The History of the Warehouse

At the heart of the matter is the purpose of a warehouse. A warehouse is just want the name says — a house that harbors wares. Wares are articles of merchandise or manufactured goods that are sold. Stemming from the Old English “waru” or commodity and may be perhaps the same word as the Scots “ware”, which means cautiousness, a ware has the sense of an object of care.

Because you are storing objects that you intend to sell which either you made or you bought to resell, there’s a lot of money at stake (and frankly sitting) in a warehouse. DAK Equipment & Engineering provides warehouse consulting services in order to help you maximize the use of your warehouse space through warehouse layout optimization. We can help with conveyor system design, as well as warehouse facility layout and design. In addition, we offer our proprietary K3 pallet racks, wire decks, storage racks, industrial shelving, industrial racking, heavy duty racking, teardrop racking, and our K3 Werks line, which is our proprietary line of high-quality distribution center equipment that includes the K3 pallet racks. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of the warehouse and its purpose, as well as how it helps you do your job more effectively. Contact us today!


In ancient times, no one needed places to store goods. You would produce a good, say a shirt, and then immediately take it to market and either sell it or barter it for something you needed. You couldn’t afford to hold onto inventory least you starve to death. You could argue that food was stored for the winter by all societies as soon as farming developed around 10,000 BC. However, this was often for personal use and not meant for resale, as wares were meant for. Food was stored when there was excess for use when there was no food. A famous historical record of this is Joseph in the Bible who stored food for use during seven years of feast for use during the seven years of famine in ancient Egypt. For our purposes, DAK Equipment & Engineering, the best warehouse automation solutions company, will just focus on warehouses as used for storage of goods.

Ancient Romans

It is fitting that warehouses first took off during the Roman Empire. So much ingenuity was accomplished during these times that it’s definitely no surprise. As early as the 2nd century BC, the ancient Romans had what they called horreum, or warehouses to store grain, olive oil, wine, food items, clothing, and marble for later use. The biggest warehouse was over 225,000 square feet. To put that in perspective, most warehouses in the United States are less than 100,000 square feet.

Being geniuses as they were, the Romans were always looking to make their lives easier. Hence, these warehouses were the top-of-the-line (and not just because they were the only line) with ramped entrance ways, thick walls to prevent fire, and high windows to prevent theft. Located close to major shipping ports, these warehouses made importing and exporting goods considerably easier than it would have been otherwise. Innovation was definitely the ancient Romans’ middle name.

By 200 AD, the city of Rome had close to 300 warehouses to store the immense quantities of goods that were coming in and out of the city. As the center of trade and commerce and of the world, most goods moved through Rome as some point along its journey. Even rural towns needed warehouses, but on a much smaller scale. These were built on raised platforms for both safety from animals and to serve as a ventilation system since air conditioning did not exist in ancient times. DAK Equipment & Engineering notes that this warehouse solution was genius for its time.

The Dark Ages

The Dark Ages were dark all the way around. Besides virtually all of humanity forgetting the innovations of the past, not much was done in terms of the transportation and storage of goods. You could say that most of the inhabitants of the Middle Ages were so consumed with survival that they had very little time for much else. Warehouses existed, but on a much smaller scale and scope than those of the ancient Romans.

That being said, the tithe barn was created in the Middle Ages. All the majority of the population had to hold on to was God since their lives were so hard 1000 years ago. Hence, most people tithed, or gave 10% of their earnings to God, or the Church. Most people didn’t have cash to work with so the tithes would be taken in the form of goods, which had to be stored somewhere. Tithe barns were built for just that purpose. Warehouses of old continued to be used, but any newer ones constructed were considerably smaller and were of stone as the need had diminished from Roman times. The denizens of the Dark Ages definitely needed the warehouse planning and design services that DAK Equipment & Engineering offers today.

The Industrial Age

With the production of many goods being ramped up in the 17th and 18th centuries, warehouses began to be in vogue again. However, instead of just storing goods, warehouses needed to be able to move goods around, invoking the beginnings of supply chain management. Traditional stone building materials were replaced by brick and iron.

Another huge leap in warehouse use was for railroads. Railroads needed to store fuel, such as coal, tools, rails, nails, rail ties, and other goods for repair needs, in addition to goods they were transporting to and fro across the nation. These rail warehouses allowed companies to store their goods along the rail lines in order to maximize the efficient movement of goods.

As the Industrial Age continued in full force, more and more warehouses were built, and they began to be designed for specialty industries, such as wool, textiles, or importing and exporting. Warehouses began to increase in size again as more and more wares needed to be stored. This was the inklings of the warehouse solutions and warehouse operations that were to come.

The 20th Century

With technology growing at exponential rates, warehouses began to implement machines to help and facilitate the movement of goods. Warehouses were now being built all over the globe as companies could now produce an incredible amount of goods through the use of machines in order to store for future use. DAK Equipment & Engineering was founded at the end of the 20th century in order to help small businesses achieve their warehouse layout optimization goals.


One word sums up the modern warehouse: automation. Whereas in the past manpower was required to physically move goods to and fro in a warehouse on their way to their shipping destination, now machines do most of the heavy lifting with humans only telling them what to do, when, and how. Products are moved on automated conveyors organized completely by machines. This trend in automating every warehouse will only continue as the technology becomes cheaper to innovate.


DAK Equipment & Engineering is on the forefront of warehouse innovations in the 21st century. Our mission is to optimize your processes, creating the maximum amount of efficiencies and maximizing your warehouse space in order to increase your revenue. When you partner with us for our top-of-the-line K3 Werks products, which include the K3 Werks Rack, K3 Rack, K3 Pallet Rack, and the K3 Warehouse systems, you can rest assured that your warehouse will be operating at max performance.

DAK Equipment & Engineering wants to help you improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs through your distribution system. Our warehouse solutions will help every warehouse process work together seamlessly. Our team can help you design and implement a strategy that includes material design and integration services to move you into the future of warehouse capabilities. Contact us today to get started!

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