Thursday, April 19, 2018
White Paper

Roadmap for Change: The Flexible Industrial Distribution Facilities Network of the Future

The Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) published another DesignFlex2030 report titled “Roadmap for Change: The Flexible Industrial Distribution Facilities Network of the Future”. DesignFlex2030 is a research initiative aimed at reimagining the industrial facility in the year 2030 with the goal of maximizing adaptability and repurposing / reuse potential. The project pulls together visionary architects and engineers from the nation’s leading firms, including Ghafari, to develop prototypes of future industrial facilities that can be repurposed as business needs evolve.

Ghafari’s Andy Cannon (Director of Business Consulting) and Phil L’Esperance (Vice President, Business Development) were key contributors to the latest white paper, which considers the vast supply chain implications that manufacturers of products ranging from fighter jets to plumbing supplies face as technological advancements, demographic changes, and shifts in the customer-producer dynamic take hold.

Given the massive disruptive factors upending the industry, today’s warehouses are not equipped to accommodate the rush of change already coming. They’re in the wrong places, are incorrectly sized, and lack the flexibility to accommodate the mix of activities that need to happen inside, from additive manufacturing and order customization to fulfillment, repair, and return. 

In designing the new network, the research team (which also included Heitman Architects) considered three questions on the minds of industrial owners and users of warehouses today: 

  1. What am I going to do with my existing obsolete and increasingly unviable warehouse space? 
  2. What does the future hold for distribution? 
  3. What kind of future-proof distribution system will meet my needs in a rapidly changing environment and strike the balance between cost-effectiveness and growing demand for just-in-time delivery?

In addition to exploring the trends that are upending the supply chain, the paper showcases entirely new warehouse and distribution facilities concepts, marrying world-class art and industrial design with elegant form and highly efficient function. As envisioned by the DesignFlex2030 team, the new network is a connected web of multiple fixed and mobile facilities, varying in size, shape, function, and scope, strategically located at various points along the logistics journey between OEM and end users in a 24-7 network. It transforms overlooked and underutilized space – along with the air above and ground below – into a new industrial real estate resource that can be deployed for multiple uses.

“The keys to the kingdom in this new distribution world are global data, connectivity, redundant power, and efficient human-machine interfaces,” Andy says. “If any of this falls apart, the entire distribution network fails. At the end of the day, this all becomes a highly sophisticated data-management exercise.” 

Read the full paper here.