Home » Manufacturing » Why organisations are turning to modern logistics hubs to ensure business resilience

Robin Woodbridge

Head of Capital Deployment UK, Prologis

To support sustainable growth of global supply chains the UK Government needs to deliver on wide ranging planning reforms.

Following a chaotic and disruptive period in which businesses have had to fight numerous fires simultaneously, they are now taking steps to future-proof and enhance resiliency levels. The heart of this effort revolves around their chosen logistics hubs

Logistics capacity 

Having the requisite volume of space, positioned in an optimum location and built to new and innovative specifications is more important than ever. The urgent need for more space for urban logistics operations is reflected in the fact that warehouse occupancy levels are now beyond 99%, with rental rates doubling over the past decade.  

Building resilience 

The battle for premium spaces in prime locations, in part, derives from a change of emphasis in the face of recent supply chain crises. Covid-19, the Ukraine war, microchip shortages, inflation and Brexit have all contributed to a mindset shift from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’. Compounding this need to cover all bases, consumers’ expectations have altered amid the rise of ecommerce, resulting in demand for quicker deliveries — in more sustainable ways — from trusted brands. 

“There were huge lessons learned from the global financial crisis, where landlords were left holding on to properties that were no longer attractive,” explains Caroline Musker, Head of Planning, Prologis. “Now, we must think more holistically and in a more agile way, following a pandemic period which has shone a spotlight on the importance of logistics.” 

“Whilst the Future of Freight Plan has provided real hope for the industry, political uncertainty being played out on wider planning reforms, and the need to ensure that the Government drives much needed growth and investment, needs to be urgently grappled with” she adds.

Logistics is a sector that is constantly evolving, and with that comes a lot more STEM opportunities than people imagine.

Attracting talent 

Ongoing market, economic and geopolitical disruptors have exposed manufacturers’ and retailers’ weaknesses; whether they were stretched distribution operations, inefficient deliveries, a lack of data-driven processes, sub-optimal green credentials or – in particular – labour concerns. 

For too long, the sector has grappled with negative connotations around low pay, monotonous work and progression limitations. Attraction and retention have become subsequent struggles, but amid the clamour for more modern and innovative logistics hubs, Prologis is urging a rebranding of the sector as a whole. 

Sally Duggleby, the company’s Vice President of Capital Deployment and Leasing, says: “Logistics is a sector that is constantly evolving, and with that comes a lot more STEM opportunities than people imagine. Modern warehouses rely on data, automation and robotics; and they often come equipped with gyms, canteens and perks that embrace the surrounding environment or location.”  

The Prologis Warehouse and Logistics Training Programme is an example of the company’s commitment to providing gateway opportunities to people wanting to enter the logistics sector. This sits alongside consultative work with warehouse occupants to aid their attraction, training and retention credentials.  

Challenging perceptions 

What the company looks to affirm with clients is that a logistics facility is more than just a basecamp — it sets the tone for the whole operation. In the face of recent crises, we must alleviate risk through the ‘just-in-case’ model, pertaining to hub positioning and supply management.  

A traditionally underwhelming talent attraction record has called for more modern and dynamic surroundings. Pressure to showcase improved environmental impacts has prompted a need to rethink both building and transport setups. An optimised logistics hub isn’t just a way to stabilise the supply chain, it can be the very focal point for future business growth and success. 

Musker concludes: “For us, it’s all about challenging the way that people view supply chains, away from that image of logistics parks as big boxes creating negative impacts on traffic and emissions. Following the pandemic, hopefully, people have a better awareness of how critical supply chains are to their lives; and we want to work with the communities and our customers to build on that awareness in a positive way.” 

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