How deep must be the forecourt of a logistics distribution centre? This is an important question when developing a new distribution centre, one that has major consequences for the (future) usability and for the initial set-up costs. The forecourt must in any event provide sufficient room so that lorries can manoeuvre in front of the loading dock. The leeway for the optimal depth of the forecourt of a distribution centre depends on a number of financial and technical considerations.


Logistics distribution centres are getting bigger and bigger, and a building with 40,000 m² of floor space is quite common nowadays. For a distribution centre with such floor space and with a customer building depth of 120 m, this means that ca. 350 m² more building ground is needed for one running metre more forecourt. Based on a price of 200 €/m² and paving costs of 60 €/m², one more metre of forecourt has an impact of ca. € 90.000 on the initial set-up costs of the building. So, the smaller the forecourt can be kept, the better for the initial set-up costs.

From the practical suitability point of view, a smaller forecourt is not always better, however. A lorry is about 16.5 m long. There has been an increase in the use of longer and heavier lorry combinations, which now extend to ca. 25 metres long. Needless to say, they need a deeper forecourt to manoeuvre and line up before the loading dock.

Practical tests

Being able to manoeuvre easily with a lorry before the loading dock on the forecourt is influenced by several factors:

  • Centre to centre distance of the docks
  • Angle of inclination of the docks at the distribution centre
  • Depth of the loading pit
  • The possibility to manoeuvre on the public road

The theoretical room for manoeuvre, according to Schiltz, is to be calculated by taking 2 times the length of a lorry and adding 2 metres. For a 16.5 metre long lorry, a forecourt 35 metres deep is therefore needed. This is shown on the illustration where the driving curve of a lorry is drawn. In this case, the loading trucks are perpendicular to the building and the centre to centre distance between them is 4 metres.

The room for manoeuvre for a longer and heavier lorry combination is harder to calculate, also because there are several types of these combinations. For this reason, Montea has conducted intensive practical tests at one of the logistics buildings. These tests have shown that it is feasible for a longer and heavier lorry combination to manoeuvre before the loading dock at a depth of ca. 40 metres.


Lorries must be able to manoeuvre comfortably on the forecourt of logistics distribution centres. The space that must be provided to that end depends on financial and technical considerations. In general, we take account of a minimum measurement of ca. 35 metres when the forecourt must be suitable for regular lorries only. With a view to the future, the increased use of longer and heavier lorry combinations, and the flexibility of the logistics distribution centre, we advise increasingly for a 40 m forecourt.

If you are interested in customized information on a logistics distribution centre, please contact Jan van der Geest.

20170919 Diepte Voorterrein DC