BLB’s Head of Commercial Property, Caroline Entwistle, considers the increasing importance of maximising the use of space in industrial property.
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Research published by Statista suggests that industrial property will see the highest rental growth (3.3% per annum) over the next four years compared to other commercial property sectors. So, with that in mind, maximising the use of space has never been more important for tenants.
Fortunately, much industrial property comprises large, predictably-shaped spaces, lending themselves to customisation. And careful design focusing on logistics and practicality can rapidly optimise the use of industrial interiors.
Common industrial design features
Using the often considerable clear vertical space is crucial. Adding a ceiling and building above it to create a mezzanine level means doubling the space available on the same footprint. A classic example is creating office space above the staff communal room.
In addition, advancements in warehouse management systems mean higher storage is feasible and safe. But the same systems also mean better optimisation through random storage. In the past, each item had its particular place, often leading to a chequerboard of full and empty space. These days, however, radiofrequency identification tags attached to individual items or pallets mean maximising shelving utilisation.
Although aisles must be wide enough for equipment to turn and manoeuvre, modern equipment allows increased use of space, meaning aisles can contract. And even without an automated storage and retrieval system, forklift trucks are getting smaller. A few additional inches per aisle mean squeezing in one or more additional rows.
We often overlook the obvious, including unutilised space that fails to register on our radar. Examples include the space above receiving and shipping doors and the possibility of installing suspended storage above production lines.
But of course, it’s possible to over-utilise the use of space to the extent that other inefficiencies creep in. For example, staffing overheads can increase as people trip over each other in a working environment that’s now too small. Also, overutilisation of space can directly impact workplace health and safety.
Careful planning is crucial to avoid costly mistakes. And don’t forget that tenants inevitably require their landlord’s consent to carry out any alterations to the property. It’s also imperative to consider and budget for dilapidations at the end of the lease.