Managing Last Mile Delivery

With the industrial sector being an ever-growing industry, Ware Malcomb takes great pride as a leader in design completing over 70 million SF of industrial space annually. Principals Michael Bennett and Jim Terry recently featured in a Building Design + Construction Magazine article discuss the unstoppable growth of factories, warehouses, distribution and fulfillment centers. 

Check out the article here and see below for the full interview.

  1. Right now multistory distribution is a coastal phenomenon, but has your firm seen any blip in demand for such buildings, and if so where? (Michael Bennett, Principal)

    We are seeing increased demand for multistory distribution facilities. The demand is driven by the population density, land cost and existing industrial rental rates. Highly urbanized port-related sites are still the primary location for the multistory demand. In these areas, the population density is the highest, and necessitates innovative facilities to keep up with the ever-growing consumer demand.

    Ware Malcomb is currently working on five multistory distribution projects in various stages of production. We have master planned over 50 sites to accommodate these facilities across North America in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Toronto and Vancouver, among many others.

    The population density, availability and cost of land will continue to drive future demand of multistory distribution facilities.

2.With online shopping continuing to grow, the need for more distribution centers is expanding. Please comment about this trend and how it is manifesting itself? (Jim Terry, Principal)

The need for more fulfillment centers and last touch facilities is rising. The e-fulfillment model is driven by today’s on demand, omnichannel retail environment.

The increased demand for faster delivery is apparent. Ware Malcomb is designing fulfillment centers boasting one million square feet footprints to smaller, last touch facilities between 40,000 square feet and 400,000 square feet closer to urban areas. The smaller centers’ proximity to urban areas provides a shorter movement of goods from fulfillment to consumer, enabling faster e-commerce delivery times. We expect this trend to continue as demand for faster deliveries continues to increase.

3.There’s been a lot of industry discussion lately about additive manufacturing. Have you seen evidence of this in the industrial building projects your firm has worked on, and if so, what adjustments (in design, engineering, or construction) need to be made? (Michael Bennett, Principal)

Yes, we have seen increased demand for industrial facilities with additive manufacturing components. The design adjustments depend on the type of materials and end products that are being produced. Enhanced power requirements, specific gases and tank farms needed to support the facility are examples of some of the specialized components used to support the additive technologies.

These facilities can resemble a clean manufacturing environment due to the specific process piping used, various gases in the machine workflow and the washable, bright white surfaces.

Ware Malcomb has been designing manufacturing facilities for over 47 years including additive manufacturing. Examples include prototypes for pilot production runs and projects for the automotive and aviation industries producing 3D printed metal products.

4. What’s new in the design of industrial buildings? What building materials are prevailing? Are these buildings, in general, getting larger or smaller, taller or flatter, etc.? Are they more likely to be part of industrial parks or freestanding? To what extent is office design playing a role in the design of these buildings? (Jim Terry, Principal)

In the industrial market, we are seeing more diverse and specialized product types than ever before. As automation increases, there is a continued growth of ASRS (automated storage and retrieval systems) and robotic retrieval systems. Newer, elaborate automation systems can include dynamic conveyors with various ways of moving the goods from the storage racks down to the delivery vehicles. These new systems provide a more efficient and faster process for the movement of goods. Ware Malcomb’s approach has always been to design a facility with long-term real estate value, so there is a careful balance between designing a facility specific to our client’s requirements and maximizing long-term real estate value. Another recent shift in the industrial market is the size of the facilities when considering increased ceiling heights and square footage. Ceiling height requirements are increasing, which has been a continued upward trend in the last few years. Some specialized e-commerce facilities boast a ceiling height of 100 feet. For speculative facilities, developers are considering cubic volume as opposed to square footage to accommodate more goods and are designing buildings up to 40’ clear ceiling height. Ware Malcomb is designing these facilities to provide a more efficient use of the space and maximize the cubic volume of the building.

The building materials most commonly used in the industrial market are still concrete tilt panels and precast concrete. The sustainability requirements in building codes are driving increased demand for solar panels and other sustainable materials. 

We are seeing increased demand for both freestanding facilities and large-scale industrial parks. The decision is mainly driven by the location and availability of land in the respective area.