Saturday 21st Oct 2017 - Logistics Manager

Thinking outside the box

We run an annual maintenance check with all our tenants, which we expect to increase to twice yearly. In this way we maintain warranties for example on the level access doors, and reduce long-term costs so that when an occupier leaves we save them money on dilapidations and so on.

There have certainly been many novelties brought in over the past few years as the property development market struggled to come to terms with the new eco-morality that pervaded society in the light of conspicuous consumption.

But what now? Graham Prisk of Knight Frank says: “The biggest innovation will be the fact that the design of the building will change, where once developers sought to produce a standard building which they thought the market wanted via speculative development, now the design will be driven by the end-user.”

Instead of speculative development there will be a move to D&B or build-to-suit in the future. Steve Lamb of sbh.uk says: “Unlike other industries such as IT, which has introduced technologies that would have been considered the subject of science fiction only a few years ago, developments in the logistics sector are, and will continue to be, a process of gradual evolution. The major challenge for the industry for a good many years to come will be how to remain profitable and viable faced with economic uncertainty, increasing legislation, rising energy costs and even the long-term effects of climate change.”

Renewable

Up until now, says Prisk, there has been a lot of focus on renewable energy generation, something that many agree does not deliver on a pound for pound basis in terms of carbon reduction to cost savings, compared with managing the use of energy in a much more sensible/efficient manner. “As we move forward with more D&B developments the innovations we should be looking for will be in the control of energy consumption, which is more likely to deliver benefits in carbon reduction and cost savings than investing in a wind turbine.”

It will be imperative for developer and occupier to work closely to meet environmental standards brought in over previous years and to make these work cost effectively. Renewable energy generation will continue to be a factor as local authorities and the government still have targets to maintain. Clever design will ensure that these renewables pay back as quickly as possible. Lamb believes As we move forward with more D&B developments the innovations we should be looking for will be in the control of energy consumption.there are many ways for a company to innovate within a warehouse that, as well as reducing energy consumption, will still help make the facility more environmentally responsible.

– Combined heat and power: widely used for housing, it has recently been selected to heat the London Olympic Park and is powering Waitrose’s recently opened Rickmansworth store, showing that it has a strong case to offer to industry and distribution. The store is being heated by materials from two local tomato farms, a fine example of resourceful thinking.

– Solar energy: should global warming lead, as it appears, to warmer, sunnier summers, this may well provide lower cost heating and power for distribution centres, alongside conventional systems.

– Ground heat pumps; a more recent technology that uses a buried loop to provide heat from the ground. This technology is more suited to warehousing than to many other sectors, as it requires a large area of ground to deliver maximum potential, which most warehouses and parking areas have in abundance.

Paying less for energy is one approach to savings, while making better use of the energy supplied can generate even bigger savings. Constructing a warehouse with more roof lights provides additional free daylight, reducing the demand for electric lighting. Established technologies such as daylight dimming or motion detectors ensure that lights only operate when needed, which in many cases is only a fraction of the time they would normally be on.

Free cooling

At a more advanced level, building management systems can monitor and control all energy-consuming functions and make considerable savings in the long term. As an example, the warehouse heating system installed in L’Oréal’s new Trafford Park distribution centre (an sbh.uk project) provides ventilation – in effect, free cooling – all managed by a building energy management system. A PC provides a single access point for control and monitoring, with data displayed on the screen, helping to save energy costs and maintenance.

Inside the offices intelligent control sensors make sure lights only go on when activated by people moving in the area and when there is not enough natural light, further reducing energy consumption and costs. Recent developments in building materials are making great strides in improving insulation levels, cutting significantly the amount of heat lost through the roof, walls and even the floor. The latest materials are able to achieve thermal conductivity levels as low as 0.021 W/mK and also Class 0 / Low Risk fire rating to the Building Regulations.

While working together to ensure the building is designed as efficiently as possible is all well and good there is a drawback – if the systems are not correctly used or not maintained then all the savings will have literally gone out the window. The best innovation an occupier can make therefore is to go back to basics and install a system of good housekeeping. This is certainly what ProLogis is working towards. Project manager Sam Lawrence of ProLogis says: “We run an annual maintenance check with all our tenants, which we expect to increase to twice yearly. In this way we maintain warranties for example on the level access doors, and reduce long-term costs so that when an occupier leaves we save them money on dilapidations and so on.”