Over the past decade, demand for warehousing space has accelerated beyond all expectations. But during the past two years, the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown even more drivers for seismic change into the mix and, where there is change, there is a need to respond quickly to remain agile, reduce risk and harness opportunities.
The Perfect Storm
While the move towards online retail and demand for increasingly short fulfilment times have been building over the course of the past decade, it is the effects of the pandemic and the UK’s new import arrangements with the EU that have been the catalysts for even more rapid and significant change in the warehousing sector. Both events have highlighted a need for improved supply chain resilience in order to maintain uninterrupted supply for both consumer and business customers.
For in-house logistics departments and 3PL (third party logistics) providers alike, the route to improved resilience is increased stockholding. However, aside from the cost and operational challenges associated with acquiring additional warehousing space, there are also issues of availability. A recent report on the sector by property company, Savills, highlights a 32% increase in the number of UK warehouses over the past six years, along with trends towards bigger facilities. However, demand for warehouse units is still outstripping supply, and finding the right property in the right location is proving to be far from the quickest of fixes for companies that need to increase stockholding volumes, SKU numbers and order picking efficiency right now.
The answer for operators, therefore, involves three clear strategies:
- To maximise the capacity of existing warehouse assets
- To improve the efficiency and agility of those facilities
- To be ready to fit out any new warehouse units as and when they can be acquired
Improving capacity, efficiency and agility for your warehouse – how AIS Vanguard can help
Maximising the capacity of your warehouse should always include improvements to enhance the efficiency and agility of your warehouse operations in order to leverage optimal benefits for your investment.
At AIS Vanguard, we have worked with a variety of operators across varied sectors, along with 3PL specialists, to transform warehouses into VNA (very narrow aisle) and ultra-high bay facilities in order to enable increased stockholding within the same footprint. But utilising the facility in this efficient way involves new challenges for order picking, both in terms of accuracy and movement around the warehouse. As a result, increased automation is often required in order to process stock availability and SKU location data in real time, reach SKUs located in narrow aisles or at high level, and operate safely within a more tightly stocked environment.
At AIS Vanguard, we can help you address all of these challenges. From creating foundations and footings for additional or improved racking systems, to installing racking, robots, picking equipment and safety systems, we can offer a turnkey solution. Our services even include taking full principal contractor responsibility, incorporating CDM, method statement and risk assessment, and working with your team to ensure the improvements to your facility are delivered with due consideration for your operational priorities and business critical timescales. This may include making temporary adjustments to the building in order to gain access for the installation of new equipment and we can handle all of that for you, including restoring the building to normal if any apertures need to be made.
As needs change, we can work with you to continue evolving your warehouse layout and processes, including reconfiguring the accommodation and installing new equipment as required.
Preparing for the future with new warehouse assets
In addition to supporting your plans to maximise the potential of existing warehouse assets, the AIS Vanguard team is also on hand to help you make ready any new warehousing facilities you may acquire.
With demand for space so high, any new facilities you bring online may need to be tailored to your requirements before you operate them. Our national branch network, fleet of lifting equipment and team of skilled and experienced professionals mean that we can respond quickly to your requirements to fit out or reconfigure a new warehouse asset anywhere in the UK or beyond, including the installation of racking systems and automation.
As the dust continues to settle after Brexit and the pandemic, there seems little doubt that demand for warehousing accommodation and the need to maintain an agile approach to responding to market conditions will continue. At AIS Vanguard, our experience, no-nonsense approach and commitment to delivering the right solution within the right timeframe make us an ideal partner for both in-house logistics operations and 3PL providers.