How the industrial property market is managing a quantum shift in technology

5 JUNE 2019

We’re in the midst of a captivating change for the industrial property market. Future-proofing infrastructure, incorporating robotics, sustainability, and thinking deeper about how customers take delivery of their goods is firmly on the minds of people in the industry.

With Brisbane being an important part of Australia’s industrial market, LOGOS is constantly looking at how we can incorporate new technologies and designs in our local assets across Brisbane and the Gold Coast to address these changes and deliver state of the art facilities for our customers. Let me share some of the drivers changing the logistics landscape.

The changing logistics landscape

E-commerce and automation are driving a big-step change in the industrial and logistics sector, the kind we haven't seen in 30-plus years, when the older ‘sawtooth manufacturing-style facilities and industrial sheds transitioned to the distribution and warehouse-style facilities of today. 

These new drivers are having a huge impact on the way logistics facilities are planned and built to ensure businesses can continue to service their end customers. LOGOS’ first two facilities at the Heathwood Logistics Estate in Brisbane are good examples of this. 

LOGOS developed a 20,000sqm purpose built high bay warehouse and office facility for Asahi Beverages in 2018 which included the provision of circa 12,000sqm of state-of-the-art automated warehousing systems.

The $72 million facility was a strategic relocation for Asahi Beverages, Australia’s leading manufacturers and marketers of beverages, to a highly efficient and well positioned distribution centre. The high bay area of the Asahi facility utilises satellite multi deep rack with an Automated Storage & Retrieval System (ASRS) and Storage and Retrieval Machines (SRMs) operating within racking aisles to carry out put-away and retrieval tasks of pallets from the racking. The low bay area facilitates forklift movements, selective pallet rack, drive-in pallet rack, pallet conveyors and automated stretch wrappers. This technology enables the efficient delivery of thousands of beverages to Asahi’s retail clients to ultimately improve its service to their end customer.

Next door is the Hilton Foods Australia meat processing and logistics facility, where LOGOS is managing the final stages of completion. LOGOS worked closely with Hilton to design and construct a facility to suit meet their needs in line with their national distribution requirements. 

Their warehouse is equally high-tech with automation and robotic technology to improve production and delivery times to their retailers, which in turn delivers a fresher product to the end customer.

Automated vehicles are coming

Another exciting change the industry is planning for is the introduction of automated vehicles, electric vehicles and driverless vehicles. 

I envisage a day where our distribution centres are on the outside receiving products from automated vehicles and dispatching the same way. I think it's conceivable that the freight will be able to move in and out of warehouses, in and out of containers at docks with limited or no human involvement; almost fully automated.

We need to consider this change as we move forward, as flexibility will prove imperative in future designs to allow us to accommodate new vehicle requirements as they evolve and become more mainstream. 

An interest in sustainable initiatives

Sustainability is always top of mind for LOGOS and our tenant customers. Solar, rainwater harvesting and LED light fittings for example are becoming the norm but, beyond that, the capital behind our business is showing a particular interest in how sustainable initiatives are being incorporated into our facilities. 

This will increasingly have a bearing on what buildings will look like, both in fabric and form, with operational efficiencies being very important and we’re looking forward to investing more in this area across our LOGOS assets.

Solving the last mile

One of the big questions that needs to be considered is what is colloquially known in the industry as the last mile and how we design real estate footprints that can respond to last mile delivery into our cities and residential areas.

There are a lot of delivery solutions being trialled at the moment - lockers for delivery, click and collect at your local store and multi-storey warehouses providing storage and distribution in closer proximity to city markets. However, the perfect solution is yet to be developed.

Warehouse automation, autonomous vehicles, robotics and potentially drones could all play a part in addressing the last mile and it is one LOGOS is actively working with our tenant customers on.

It is an exciting time to be in the industrial space, with e-commerce, technology, the increasing focus on sustainability and changing consumer habits creating many opportunities for our business and the industry. LOGOS looks forward to continuing to work with our capital partners and tenant customers, and the broader industry on addressing these drivers to deliver business productivity and profitability, and ultimately help revolutionize this dynamic sector. Watch this space.

Aerial of Brisbane Airport runway