Top Attributes Transforming the Warehouses of Today and Tomorrow

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By Greg Hopkins, Associate, JLL

JLL recently released the Industrial Warehouse of the Future report outlining the top attributes that are redefining industrial properties. Below we outline three main themes and their impact in the Midwest.Man jumping over cargo trailer in industrial warehouse environment.

Industrial vacancies continue to fall in Midwest. The continued growth of e-commerce, last mile delivery and warehousing in general are all driving significant demand for industrial properties. Not surprisingly, this spike in demand is also cultivating innovation in how the assets are built and utilized.

Newer, more modern facilities are adding elements that will improve efficiency in the wake of changing consumer expectations and enable room for growth.

The Future of Warehouse Tech

Warehouse operators rely on real-time data to drive efficiency and keep an accurate count of inventory. A slew of technologies including GPS, barcoding, RFID scanning and the Internet of Things (IoT) make today’s warehouses hyper-connected.

More warehouses are incorporating robots into their processes, which can be beneficial to both their efficiency and human workforce. For example, multi-lingual voice picking tech and other specialized robots are “goods to person” innovations that enable a diverse workforce in both language and skill to participate.

A Changing Landscape

Specialized flooring within industrial warehouses is becoming increasingly important as new technology enters the space. Robotic pickers perform best on exceptionally flat floors, while other areas are being intentionally sloped to aid in moving goods inbound and outbound.

A greater emphasis is being placed on larger sites with excess land as industrial tenants require more flexibility for truck storage and/or building expansion. Shipping activity is often seasonal and demand can be unpredictable, meaning tenants are on the hunt for space that can expand in accordance with business needs.

>> Related read: Why Multi-Story Warehouses are Coming to America

Creating a Better Environment

Warehouses are trending towards more sustainable, human-centric designs. There is a growing importance on the quality of life for employees, which sequentially reduces turnover and liability issues.

Improvements aren’t just occurring for those inside the warehouses. Industrial buildings are making strides in energy efficiency in stride with the sustainability trend sweeping the nation. Generic upgrades include solar panels, LED lighting, cool roof systems, thermal glass, clerestory windows and more. Specific to warehouses, even forklifts are becoming more energy efficient with the incorporation of alternative fuel sources.

Industrial Space in the Great Lakes Region

In line with national trends, there are exceptionally healthy industrial markets in cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Some highlights include:

  • Over 600,000 square feet of speculative space is under construction in Cleveland, which is welcomed news to tenants who face a supply-constrained market.
  • In Columbus, over 5.4 million square feet of industrial space is expected to be delivered by the end of 2018 with four projects totaling 2.9 million square feet breaking ground.
  • Tenants in the Louisville industrial market continue to show interest in the options available within several submarkets for immediate occupancy.
  • Total availability of industrial space remains below nine percent for the sixth straight quarter in Pittsburgh.

Download the full report for an in-depth examination of the nine attributes that are redefining industrial properties today.

Download JLL Research

About the Author

Greg Hopkins, Associate, JLLGreg Hopkins is an Associate in JLL’s Industrial Services Group, based in Pittsburgh, PA. He works primarily with assisting corporate clients in analyzing their real estate needs and developing strategies to align real estate initiatives with overall business plans.