5 Things You Need To Know About Distribution And Manufacturing Construction
As complex developments that can serve a variety of uses, distribution and manufacturing facilities require incredible forethought and planning. In this constantly changing industry, there are many potential design and construction pitfalls that could make a facility unproductive or even obsolete within a few years. To learn more about what it takes to make a successful D&M facility, we sat down with Cadence McShane Construction food and beverage business development manager Pat McConnell, who gave us five nuggets of advice.
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Consider The Facility’s Future
Too many facilities are built with the initial cost as top priority, Pat tells Bisnow, and this short-sighted decision injects a degree of “ongoing inefficiency.” Facilities need the potential to expand, not only so businesses aren’t interrupted by an expansion effort, but to attract potential tenants and provide a huge ROI in the years to come.
That’s why the most discerning owners look at life cycle costs, so they can control their initial capital investment but keep a sharp eye on the ongoing operating costs as well.
“The smartest owners consider electrical distribution and panel sizing, refrigeration sizing and piping runs, fire run and knockout panels for access, which can all be constructed while sanitary operations are in process,” Pat says. “If they invest an extra $200k on the building, but save $500k in labor over the life of the building, that’s a smart decision,” Pat says.
Cutting Costs By Being Socially Responsible Isn’t An Oxymoron
Pat says companies are heavily assessing social responsibility on their supply chains as more and more consumers “realize that a supplier’s facility and the treatment of their employees might have a direct bearing on how they treat their products.” A cave-like work environment, for example, could reflect a similar apathy towards proper food sanitation practices.
Companies need to prioritize well-designed office spaces and working conditions, incorporating elements like “more open and flexible floor plans, picnic areas, meditation rooms, company gyms and things like clerestory windows that provide more light and ventilation to the workspace while also cutting utility costs.”
This isn’t just good for PR, he explains, but it fosters a more communicative, happier work environment, shrinks the travel paths between various departments and reduces inefficient uses of time. So not only will it save clients money, it’ll make them money as well, since their workers are more productive.
Sustainability Benefits Businesses
The same win-win goes for sustainable practices: end customers like to see it, and implementing them lowers costs. For Pat, many of these are at least strong options, if not absolute no-brainers. Why not repurpose the hundreds of gallons of pure water byproduct created by refrigeration systems for irrigation or air cooling uses, or use recovered heat to ventilate a dry warehouse or implement energy-efficient lighting systems? Cutting-edge green technologies like air and solar power or fuel cell batteries, are increasingly viable options for construction companies looking to curb their environmental impact and their utility bill. Pat says this could also be a big part of the future of facility design, as we’ll see taller facilities on a smaller footprint.
Sweat The Small Stuff
Small design choices can have a huge impact on the long-term production capacity and the cost of maintenance. Many distribution centers are still designed with 50-foot bays, when increasing that length by as little as two feet would allow enough room for another dock door and “as dock doors are the conduit of operations,” Pat explains, “the more available, the better.” The difference can quickly add up: “A 600’ face divided into 50’ bays allows for a maximum 36 doors. That same face with 52’ bays allows for a maximum of 46 doors.”
But that’s not the only small change you need to be thinking about. Insulated sandwiched panels—which use thin precast or tilt-up concrete panels bonded to an insulated core made of fire-resistant material—requires little maintenance (saving you a ton of money over the building’s life span), protects key systems, saves valuable floor space and acts as an excellent insulator, but is strangely underused in the marketplace. Embedding yellow traffic lines in the floor joints can save on the cost of maintaining paint or tape jobs and cover up floor joints that are a favorite target for auditors. Finally, vertical levelers can “allow a trailer to back into the warehouse with the seal unbroken,” removing any possibility of product contamination.
Integrated Product Delivery
“Integrated product delivery is the only viable solution for a world-class facility,” Pat says. The best projects have a clear set of expectations about construction, as well as roles and business conduct, so anyone associated with the project has precisely defined spheres of authority and can’t have any confusion about the owner’s expectations. A clear command structure can effectively prevent clashes and inefficiencies down the line, saving you time, money and a ton of stress.