Is a high bay warehouse right for us? Top five considerations

Are you considering whether a high bay warehouse is the right choice for your business? TM Insight has considerable experience delivering high bay warehouses, both in Australia and overseas. Here we share five things to consider.

1. To clad or not to clad… that is the question

A “rack clad” high bay refers to a warehouse where racking forms the structure for the building, whereas a “non-rack clad” means the building structure is developed independently from the racking.
Here at TM Insight, we are currently developing both types of facilities and there are pros and cons to both. The key considerations in choosing between the two include:

  • Ownership. Will the facility be a leased site or owner-occupied? Developers and investors will have differing views on the future value of both rack clad and non-rack clad warehouses which will impact the rent offered to a tenant
  • Lead times. Rack clad warehouses generally have more complex and time-consuming engineering requirements, which result in longer lead times. In contrast, non-rack clad warehouses are comparatively flexible and nimble, lending themselves to shorter lead times.
  • Installation sequencing. The complexity of your installation sequencing will impact your choice. Non-rack clad warehouses offer greater flexibility, while rack clad warehouses are typically more robust, but require more careful sequence planning.
  • When selecting their racking solution, clients should carefully consider these factors, not just undertake what appears on the surface to be the most cost-effective option. The total cost and time will dwarf any perceived savings if not considered accurately in the business case stage.

    2. Ground conditions/ sensitivity of the automation equipment

    Ground conditions are paramount to a successful high bay warehouse development project.
    If the proposed high bay warehouse is to be developed on an existing site, the first step in determining the viability of the project is dynamic modelling of the site. This is necessary given the extreme tolerances required by automation providers, and potential ground improvement costs to meet the required tolerances.
    If the proposed solution will be on a new site or through a developer, the due diligence process when determining suitable sites will also require dynamic modelling (regardless of pallet weights proposed).

    3. Tender the automation solution prior to sourcing commercial real estate

    Too often we see clients sourcing commercial real estate before they have chosen their warehouse automation provider. Unlike standard height warehousing, the high bay warehousing height is a direct function of the automation solution, which may be anywhere from 12 – 17 pallets high. It is therefore critical that the warehouse automation provider be appointed as part of your project team, before beginning to source commercial property. TM Insight specialises in commercial real estate procurement strategy and frequently helps clients with this important process.

    4. Australian standards and regulatory requirements

    The warehouse automation/MHE (Manual Handling Equipment) provider should be selected based on their relevant experience with Australian building conditions and regulatory requirements, including structural, power and fire protection requirements. There is often a disconnect between the relevant standards used offshore and here in Australia. Choosing a provider that has experience in the Australian market will help ensure the smooth-running of your project.

    5. Procurement strategy and project management

    Here at TM Insight, we assist many clients with tenders, procurement strategy and project management, particularly in relation to high bay warehouses. Some key tips and considerations for this process include:

  • Whether you are developing a high bay warehouse or standard-height warehouse, your warehouse should be designed around the MHE (Manual Handling Equipment) solution.
  • There needs to be agreement between the client and automation providers on the required standards prior to commencing the property sourcing process. This will save significant time and cost through the design and development phase.
  • It is crucial to ensure the relevant contractual requirements are “back to back” between base building works and the Manual Handling Equipment providers to mitigate time and cost blowouts.

    If you are considering this as an option or want to compare business case costs on different storage solutions (high bay or low bay) we welcome the opportunity to discuss these with you. Contact us.