As we start to settle into a “new normal”, the only certainty is that nothing is certain.  With an unpredictable future, warehouses and distribution centres will have to be designed in a manner that offers maximum adaptability and flexibility.  Our buildings are designed with agility in mind, focusing on how best to utilise space while also recognising the need for this space to be easily modified when responding to altered circumstances.  

The need for greater flexibility is having a considerable impact on the temporary buildings industry as a trend for on-demand warehousing is emerging.  Quick installation time alone is enough of a draw for businesses that need to respond fast to accelerated growth without having to commit to a fixed location but the cost savings are also significant compared to conventional bricks and mortar.

In line with this trend is a steady shift away from consolidation and dependency on one big warehouse.  When crisis hit, this distribution model left many supply chains exposed and businesses are likely to be more cautious about including this in their strategy moving forward.  Instead, they may look to ensure that supplies to smaller towns can be covered from more than one location, at least for the time being.  Our structures can stand for as long or as short a term as is necessary and are fully re-locatable so can be taken down and moved with you as your business changes. 

These changes are certainly coming thick and fast for retailers.  The rise and rise of ecommerce is unlikely to slow down any time soon and the “Amazon Effect” has ushered in any number of consumer expectations that is piling the pressure on competitors.  Retail footprints are shrinking so it falls to the warehouse to shoulder the storage burden to compensate for the shift from high street shopping to online.  Smaller retailers are trying to get in on the act so as not to be left behind but this is also contributing to the increased demand for warehouses.  

Knight Frank predicts that the rise of online sales will drive demand for 92 million sq ft of UK warehouse space by 2024.  However, it can take a long time to either find or conventionally build the ideal premises.  In this rapidly evolving and unpredictable market, time waits for no business and your requirements could change just as quickly as the market.  A temporary structure could be just the right solution to give companies some breathing space while they consider their next move.  Our industrial buildings are fully bespoke to address a business’ needs right now but are designed to allow for scalability should they take longer to consider this move. 

Space is also going to be central to the future of warehousing from a health and safety standpoint. Physical distancing guidelines have made it very challenging for warehouse employees to operate and we have noticed an increase in enquiries for our loading bay dome structures. These are built with no internal supports and so offer more usable space for people to navigate around each other safely when transporting goods in and out of the main building.

Social distancing protocols are also pushing warehouses to accelerate automation and decrease human dependency.  Warehouses are trying to find ways to operate seamlessly with a reduced workforce while embracing advancements in technology to drive efficiency.  However, technology can only work if you have the room to bring it in and deploy it effectively.

Warehouses have never been more business critical and with over 30 years’ experience we understand that industrial buildings must be able to consistently perform at the highest level without compromising daily operations. Changes are coming thick and fast from all angles, as is the rate of innovation and we are keeping up the pace!