Building facilities management requires an almost omnicompetent disposition owing to its highly complex nature, covering many areas and all subject to legal constraints. Woe betide any warehouse manager who thinks his only concern is the safe, efficient operation of materials handling and storage equipment.

At any planning stage for a new warehouse there is often a choice between a permanent structure and a temporary building. The latter, to some extent, is a misnomer because these structures can last 20 years or more and be used for storing almost any products and be built to any size with all the main facilities one would find in a more permanent structure. Their great advantages are their much cheaper construction costs, quick installation and relocatability. In the current, uncertain business climate they can greatly diminish the risks for companies seeing growth for their products but who feel that the future is more unstable than usual. If going for a temporary warehouse on an existing site there are also improved management aspects to consider, like being able to bring all storage in house. And finally, as Constor found with its aluminium-framed building from Aganto, the money saved means that it could be invested elsewhere in the business.

If choosing a permanent warehouse, then the potential headaches for any building facilities manager are higher and begin before even moving in. Once moved in, other major areas involve floor care, fire prevention, security and health and safety issues.

One kind of facilities management problem can occur both at the beginning and end of any property lease – the issue of dilapidations, a minefield for the unwary. Dilapidations cover items of disrepair that are covered by repairing obligations in the lease, which the tenant is required to pay to the landlord upon termination of the lease. These will often include breach of repairing and decorating covenants.

To arm themselves against onerous landlord conditions, tenants should seek advice from professionals to examine closely the scope of the repairing, reinstatement and redecoration covenants in the lease. Also to be taken into consideration is the impact of new legislation like the Energy Act, 2011, which requires all industrial premises to have energy performance certificates between A and E by 2018. Who, for example, will be responsible for the costs of meeting the upgrades to comply with the act?

Landlords will press for an extensive a repair clause as they can obtain from tenants so it’s important to maintain a high standard of warehouse operations. One areas that is often ignored is the floor, both in terms of good repairs and housekeeping, which if neglected would jeopardise safety issues and push up materials handling equipment running costs through impact damage from pot-holed or slippery floors.

Additionally, 21st century warehouse operations are more onerous on floors than sheds had to endure in the 1980s and 1990s. The higher demands on today’s floor slabs cause building owners to be more aware of maintenance problems associated with traditionally-designed and installed floors, particularly with the stress relieving saw-cut joints. Fortunately, there are jointless industrial flooring systems from contractors like Twintec, and where floors have dished owing to poor load-bearing subsoil conditions the astronomic cost of remedial pile driving can be avoided by foam injection techniques like those offered by Uretek.

Just as at sea every captain’s worst nightmare is fire down below so, too, every warehouse manager should have the same fears. This year one in every hundred UK companies will be making a claim for fire loss and it seems nearly half of all warehouse fires are maliciously caused, highlighting the need for good security systems. Most single site businesses that have a major fire will shut down within 18 months. The latest regulations require a comprehensive fire risk assessment by a competent person but the whole issue of fire risks should involve a holistic approach, even including the problem of numerous false alarms, and in this respect advice from local fire authorities is invaluable.

Warehouse & Logistics News

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