The winners in the Logistics sector will be those able to anticipate trends and future-proof their assets, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s The Future of Logistics Real Estate investment briefing in Munich last week.
‘Future-proofing buildings is crucial,’ said Andy Harding, Head of Industrial & Logistics, JLL UK. ‘But with robotics and automation there are changes and innovations happening all the time, so it is difficult to design buildings to accommodate the future’.
One obvious way is having enough energy to power the new automated systems.
‘We will need an awful lot of power with automation and robotics, so access to power will be a real focus going forward,’ he said, adding that a lot still needs to be done on this front, in the UK and elsewhere.
Another way to future-proof a logistics building is to think of future needs.
‘Warehouses might have to be built with roofs that are ready for drones, because Amazon want to use them more,’ said Ingo Steves, Managing Director, Gazeley North Europe. ‘You need to look at building specs, but then it is difficult to know if European cities will allow drones or not’.
In a fast-moving world it is not just what you build, but also how fast you manage to build it, he said.
‘Amazon wanted a robotic centre in Hamburg. We agreed in December, on January 1stthe first column was up and by May the centre was operational,’ said Steves. ‘The project was completed in a five-month time-frame’.
In the future there will definitely be more supply-chain automation and more just-in-time, but ‘planning for the next ten years is a real challenge,’ said Raimund Paetzmann, Vice President Corporate Real Estate, Zalando. ‘I think the biggest topic will be autonomous cars, which will have a huge impact on infrastructure. Less parking will be needed and streets and cities will have to be re-imagined’.
Despite the challenges, logistics is well-placed to change because it has always been ready to adapt and landlords have always had to be flexible in order to accommodate different types of business with different profiles and different needs.
There is nothing new under the sun, said Buddy Roes, Chief Operating Officer & Northern Europe Managing Director, Logicor: ‘Logistics has been used to a changing environment since it was invented, it has always been agile and clever. We have been building automated systems since the 1960’s and 70’s’.
In future there will be a change from current distribution behaviour that sees ‘zillions of goods stuck in a warehouse lying around until someone orders them’, he said.
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