Many factors including the rise of e-commerce have increased the speed at which the world does business today. For some companies, this new velocity has driven rapid growth. For others it creates sales volume surges at different times of year. Either way, many businesses end up struggling to have adequate storage capacity.
Fast-growing companies can’t get new warehouse space built fast enough or may have revenues earmarked for other initiatives. Organizations with sales spikes don’t want more permanent warehouse space, as it becomes a financial burden when volumes drop.
So, how can companies get extra storage space when they need it, but only when they need it? Even if it were easy to get into and back out of a warehouse space lease (which it typically isn’t), the demand for space far outpaces the amount of space available. As a result, organizations are increasingly turning to semi trailers to augment their storage capacity.
Trailer-Based Warehousing: From Last Resort to Mainstream Strategy
There was a time when companies would turn to semi trailers to meet their storage needs only as a last resort. After calling every storage facility in a wide radius, a warehouse manager would “admit defeat’ and arrange to have some trailers brought in. More recently, however, companies have realized that arranging to lease some trailers as soon as a need arises has many benefits, including:
- Semi trailers are a storage solution that can be increased or decreased essentially at a moment’s notice.
- As compared to other storage options, semi trailers are a very cost-effective alternative.
- Semi trailers provide secure storage with protection from the elements.
- The same provider can meet a company’s needs for storage trailers and over-the-road trailers.
For those reasons and others, many companies are adding a line item to their strategic business plan for “Semi trailer leasing for storage purposes.” Warehouse managers love having the freedom to bring in trailers when conditions call for additional storage space, and that occurs more often than you may think. For example, semi trailers can be used:
- When a company is increasing inventory in preparation for the holidays
- To accommodate buying supplies in larger quantities in advance of tariffs or other trade issues that will cause them to be more expensive
- When there’s reason to believe that a supply chain will be disrupted
- If a drop in price makes purchasing large quantities of raw materials advantageous
- To store equipment, office supplies, etc. during building expansions or renovations
- When products or materials will be needed sporadically at other locations and can be delivered in the same trailers they’ve been stored in
- In the aftermath of natural disasters to strategically position equipment and supplies
Storage semi trailers can also be used to accommodate what’s known as “reverse logistics.” This term covers all the activities that take place after a product has been delivered to its traditional final destination and that are used to recapture value or facilitate disposal.
For example, if a customer returns a defective item, it has to be received and then, depending on the issue, it may be partially disassembled to allow for a repair or completely broken down for recycling. Whatever its ultimate disposition will be, the item and its components must be properly stored in the interim.
Your Place or Ours: Onsite and Offsite Semi Trailer Storage
Companies wanting to expand their warehouse capacity with semi trailers have a number of options for doing so. Organizations that have flat areas appropriate for trailers around their facility may choose to park one or more on their property. This makes it easy to access the contents as needed.
If a company doesn’t have space for a trailer at their location, they may choose to lease it but leave it at the provider’s site and fill it there. We offer this service at Boxwheel. Yet another option is to lease a semi trailer and park it at a third-party terminal. In fact, there are now companies that help organizations find these kinds of locations.
How Big is Semi Trailer Warehousing?
The use of semi trailers as mobile warehouse space has grown dramatically in recent years. Supply Chain Dive estimates that half a million trailers may be used as auxiliary storage around the U.S., while also acknowledging that nobody knows the exact number.
However, as one of the site’s contributors points out, if you drive around virtually any industrial area in the country, you’re likely to see semi trailers parked near buildings. Some of them may simply be idle over-the-road trailers, but a significant percentage of trailers that aren’t attached to a tractor are being used as extra “real estate” for the companies that own or lease them.
Storage Semi Trailers as a “Down Payment” on New Warehouse Space
Some companies leverage semi trailers as cost-effective temporary storage that enables them to save money that can be put toward the construction of new warehouse space. Bridging the gap in this way can make great financial sense for organizations that are growing at a steady pace and can time their warehouse building or expansion initiative to match their increasing revenues.
Stationary or Mobile: Rental and Leased Semi Trailers for Any Purpose
If you have questions about our inventory of dry van, reefer, and flatbed trailers from makers like Wabash, Great Dane and Utility—or about our simple, three-step rental or leasing process—we’re happy to answer them. Please contact us at your convenience, or stop by our Colorado or Arizona location.