Factories of the Future. What to Expect
When you think of industrial factories, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Big, grey, and boring are probably it. Unlike residential and commercial properties where the “fun” and “measurable” factor of how good the property comes in terms of amenities and the different designs it has, there are many factors that determine what makes a good industrial factory as well.
While residential and commercial properties act as a shelter and venue for business operations respectively, industrial properties play a big role in a growing nation. Industrial factories now have to up their game thanks to the birth of the Digital Free Trade Zone which is said to be the first in the world right here in Malaysia in aims of acting as a catalyst to encourage interest in the country’s industrial properties. What it does is that it facilitates seamless, quick cross-border trade, establishes Malaysia as a regional e-commerce and e-fulfillment hub, and drives export of Malaysian SMEs via e-commerce.
Comprising of three components, it will be an e-Fulfilment hub to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses to export goods easily with the help of leading fulfillment service providers as well as a Satellite Services Hub to connect SMEs and businesses with leading players that offer services like financing, last-mile fulfillment insurance, and other services. As for its non-physical platform, it will comprise of an e-Services Platform, a virtual zone which functions to efficiently manage cargo clearance and other processes by digitally connecting users with the government and business services. Not only that Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has also acquired a free-trade zone in KLIA Aeropolis which is purportedly said to handle US$65 billion worth of goods once in full flow. With the fast pace growth of digitalization in terms of how businesses operate in, it needs the support of physical factories that works for hand in hand.
What then sets a good industrial factory apart?
Mega Storage Facility.
Advances software applications have enabled manufacturers and logistics companies to catalog and locate items – and eCommerce has increased the simple demand for storage space – the size of warehouses has naturally increased. Today’s storage spaces are bigger on the floor plan and the levels across which they operate. Many warehouses now contain multiple levels of mezzanine floors, with multiple lifts and even external access points to maximize the amount of navigable space.
The usage of Super Computers
Thousands of real-time tracking of deliveries are tracked by a super-efficient centralized system. Such systems are able to co-ordinate with RFID chips to barcodes and an array of new technologies ensure total efficiency and precision from increasingly complex operations. The future warehouse will rely on integrated inventory management, from production to supply chain fulfilling the customer order in just in time moment.
The conversion of commercial buildings into last-mile delivery centers
We believe that last-mile, immediate delivery will increase, e-commerce, and logistics companies will need to be innovative to convert less than vibrant commercial buildings into delivery centers. There’s already a mushroom growth for such space on major population centers due to the demand for same-day deliveries. Last-mile fulfillment centers are already building upwards as well as outwards, and this could lead to further developments in warehouse design in the near future. Don’t be surprised if urban warehouses take inspiration from city centers, and begin to scrape the sky.
Last-Mile Cold Storage
As of now, such facilities are only limited to hypermarkets and wholesalers. There is a potential in Malaysia that online grocery shopping and meal delivery services to move into this sector of the supply chain. We have seen in the news of how many farmers in Cameron Highlands and throw away their products for not being able to deliver theirs on time. There is also an increasing demand for perishables fruits and, poultry, which to be delivered in better condition to consumers. Cold storage will need to be efficient in the energy used for climate control.
Smart Design Warehouses
Future designers of warehouses will develop multiple points of entry that delivery vehicles to enter and exit in parallel, innumerable loading bays, onsite security and firefighting services, fleet and warehouse management services, technical support teams, refueling areas and more besides having increased as operations have become more complex.
Warehouses of the future could offer retail and change even more drastically as the promises of automation, drones, and other technologies. As an example of Amazon, warehouses are anything to go by, many warehouses in the future may only have a handful of people on-site to watch over a fleet of agile robots, all delivering, picking, and shipping out orders by themselves.
Other important factors that should not be ignored include high-speed internet connection and closeness to labor supply and talent pool in the manufacturing industry. A smart factory where many processes can be automated will be a bonus, although it is likely that in this age and time, it has become more of a necessity.
It is also important to acquire spaces around their central hub as small settlements for online distribution purposes.
Competition is fierce in online businesses, so apart from being able to deliver the same quality and priced product, a differentiation you would need would be the speed of delivery which will ultimately determine if the customer picks your store.