As more robots join the warehouse floor, they’re reshaping the way that the buildings themselves are planned and designed. It’s not just a question of rearranging existing floor plans; the introduction of new technology brings with it new space requirements that warehouses increasingly need to take into account. Add the reduction in human workers to the mix and the warehouse design of the future – particularly in new buildings occupied by large companies – could be significantly different to manually operated buildings more common today, according to JLL’s Labour and automation and the rise of robots in logistics report. “Automation and robots will enable warehouse operators to better utilise floorspace and alter traditional warehousing layouts,” says Jon Sleeman, Head of EMEA Industrial & Logistics Research at JLL. “Equally these changes do not necessarily mean that all older buildings will become obsolete as it may be possible to improve their efficiency by retrofitting modular automated solutions that can be customised and fitted into all sizes and shapes of warehouse buildings.” As mezzanine floors become more important to support automated systems and robots, warehouse designs will need to pay greater attention to their weight bearing abilities. A major challenge off the back of increased automation will be energy, with more electricity needed, both inside and outside the warehouse. While warehouse design may be in for an overhaul, location remains a key influence, especially when it comes to access to transport networks.
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