Modular construction is gaining popularity in residential and hotels, such as this design by Chapman Taylor. Is it time for logistics to adopt the off-site treatment?

Is modular answer to accelerate construction in logistics?

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Lindsey Clark

According to the latest Savills July 2020 Big Shed report, areas of the UK are looking at a potential serious shortage of warehouse and shed storage.

The combination of changing consumer habits, accelerated by the onset of Covid-19, omni channel retailing, together with the looming prospect of a no trade deal Brexit, the demand for distribution and logistics hubs and shed storage will continue to grow.

The figures in the latest Savills Big Shed Report underline the lack of supply in the sector. The North West has its lowest ever vacancy rate, at 5.48% with only 1.07 years of supply left. It is a similar story in London and the South East and Yorkshire and the North East, each having the best H1 take-up on record.

With focus sharpening on the creation of flexible and resilient supply chains, are prefabricated modular solutions which are built in a factory-controlled environment and then assembled on site ideally suited to help the sector in a post Covid 19 and Brexit world?

Increasing in popularity in the housing, build-to-rent, student accommodation and hotel sectors, modular construction offers a new way to build sustainably and efficiently. Key benefits include:

  • utilisation of an indoor production line
  • advanced construction techniques, pods, panelised systems and a digital approach to assembly and construction of buildings
  • increased speed of construction
  • reduced labour costs and construction waste when compared to a traditional build; and
  • evolving quality frameworks, certification schemes for off-site construction systems and components being developed by BRE (BPS 7014).

Modular construction has the potential to become the next disruptive innovation in the construction industry and its application to the shed storage and warehousing sectors should be considered by developers and occupiers alike.

Lindsey Clark is principal associate in real estate at Mills & Reeve 

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