Introduction to the construction of logistics buildings

There has never been more demand for logistics buildings than there is today. According to new research from real estate firm Knight Frank, some 40 million square feet of warehouse space will be completed in 2021 – double the previous year. The boom in the construction of logistics facilities is often attributed to the overall rise of e-commerce. Indeed, this is a trend that is likely to keep on growing. Any construction firm that wishes to enter this dynamic and fast-growing market, therefore, needs to understand the challenges and opportunities involved in warehouse and logistics building.

Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise, logistic import export and transport industry background

UK logistics: fast facts

Logistics is a key sector in the UK economy:

  • It contributes over £90 billion to the country’s GDP
  • Most industries in the UK economy rely on logistics for at least some of their activities
  • The logistics sector employs 2 million people, making up 8% of the total UK workforce

What is a logistics building?

A logistics building is any kind of facility that serves to store goods at some point in the supply chain. There are many different kinds of warehouses and logistics buildings, including:

  • Distribution warehouses: They store products for distribution to retailers
  • Fulfilment centres: These are warehouses where employees typically pack goods from shelves into boxes before they are posted directly to e-commerce customers
  • Cold storage warehouses: These are warehouses that are specifically designed for storing fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and other perishables in industrial fridges and freezers
  • Bulk storage warehouses: This is a kind of warehouse that stores large amounts of goods such as liquids, petroleum, industrial appliances, some kinds of agricultural goods and raw commodities
  • Out of town retail warehouses: These are large warehouses that consumers can visit directly and buy (typically) large bulky goods or at a discount
  • Self-store facilities: These are facilities where consumers and businesses store belongings, files, machinery and tools that are currently not in use

Design and build: Guide to warehouse construction

Typical features of logistics buildings

Depending on the purpose of the warehouse, the space and layout of the design may vary dramatically. However, logistics buildings often share certain features in common. They will usually contain the following elements:

  1. Storage space (typically on large multi-storey shelves)
  2. Office space for management teams and customer service agents
  3. Loading docks for shipping and receiving
  4. Car parks for staff and/or customers
  5. Light industrial space
  6. Packing lines
  7. Server rooms
  8. Segregated machinery and human pathways
  9. Refrigeration units
  10. Canteens and cooking facilities

Guidelines for the construction of logistics facilities

Each logistics building is unique. The design of these spaces can also vary considerably according to their location (inner-city, suburban, rural), size and space requirements and connections to transport infrastructure (road, rail, ports, airports).

That said, the following guidelines can support the design and construction of logistics facilities:

  • Design for future changes:

In terms of size, business type and employment force within the building.

  • Future technology:

Think about how emerging tech could affect the design of the space. For example, warehouse robots are likely to become more common in future. Eliminating stairs and using ramps can then make it easier for them to move around the space.

  • Hygiene and COVID-19 readiness:

Consider ventilation, social distancing and hygiene station design to reduce the spread of disease.

  • Plan for the vehicles:

Consider how different types of industrial vehicles will move around the space, both inside and outside the building (ship docking, truck paths, car parking, cranes) since each of these vehicles has special design requirements in terms of height, width and movement.

  • Congestion:

Ensure that you separate receiving and shipping to avoid congestion. Road design can also help reduce fuel usage. For example, gentle curves allow trucks to break slowly, whereas sharp bends use more fuel.

  • Safety first:

Plan for the risk of fires, floods and storms. You should also ensure buildings have safe evacuation plans, internal firebreaks and other techniques to prevent disaster.

  • Prioritise flexible design:

Buildings where customers can change the aisle width relatively easily allow them to adapt their space to their changing needs.

  • Think about HVAC:

Warehouses can get hot in summer and cold in winter. Good heating and cooling design can make them much more pleasant places to work.

  • Separate people from vehicles:

Pedestrian walkways will separate workers on foot from forklift trucks and reduce the risk of injuries.

  • Lighting:

Good quality lighting makes staff more productive, reduces the risk of accidents and can also save money on your energy bills.

Construction of logistics buildings with PlanRadar

Many of our customers use PlanRadar to support their logistics building construction projects. PlanRadar makes it more efficient and productive to build warehouses, fulfilment centres and similar facilities by providing your teams with essential tools:

  • Task Management

A logistics building site manager can allocate tasks to different subcontractors using the app and verify that jobs have been completed.

  • Building inspections

With PlanRadar, your quality assurance teams can compare the project’s progress against a BIM model of the building, identify any problems and then mark this directly on the blueprint.

  • Project hand over

Full building inspections can be completed and verified, reports generated directly from within the app and signatures collected digitally with our project handover solution.

  • Inspect your BIM models

With PlanRadar, all project participants can visualise a BIM model of the building design, see any changes to the blueprint and always be up to date.

  • Generate project reports

The lead contractor can instantly capture data of all kinds about the project, save it and export it in the customer’s required format.

The next generation of warehouse and logistics building projects

Demand for warehouses and logistics buildings is only expected to continue growing in line with the rise of e-commerce. By improving how you design and manage the construction of logistics facilities, you can improve project management and increase profitability. Learn how PlanRadar helps you with logistics buildings today.

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