Last year, there was a significant shift in the industrial and logistics sector. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled an even greater e-commerce boom and increased pressure on supply chains globally to meet consumer demand, all during a time of great uncertainty. Many of the trends we saw emerge were already in play pre-pandemic, but COVID-19 spurred them on and placed the industrial and logistics asset class centre front and centre on the property stage. There is now greater recognition and appreciation of the industrial sector not just from businesses, but also the end consumers. These assets are mission critical pieces of infrastructure that make our cities liveable and are integral to everyday life.
Looking ahead, there’s no sign of this growth slowing and as we embark on creating the places that power tomorrow’s opportunities for our customers, there are four key trends to watch in Australia:
Shifts in supply chain strategies – The shortcomings of the ‘just-in-time’ supply chain model were revealed during the height of the pandemic in 2020. International freight and manufacturing were hit with restrictions and shut-downs and increased pressure to house more stock locally, especially stock considered critical, such as medical supplies and equipment. This combined with the e-commerce boom, uptick in the residential sector spurred on by Government stimulus and the rise in consumer demand for same-day delivery in CBDs will see increased onshore warehousing requirements and the need for diversified ‘last-mile’ strategies. More retail businesses are also likely to adopt an omnichannel strategy to remain profitable, again driving higher demand for warehousing facilities which the industry will need to fulfil.
Next generation industrial design – In order to meet the increased demand for industrial space, new and innovative ways to unlock land and sites is required. In 2021, expect to see a further push towards facilities that are fit-for-purpose to meet the bespoke needs of customers and design solutions such as ‘multi-level warehousing’. This is already a go-to model in Asia but beginning to gain momentum locally as it can be used for smaller suburban and inner-city distribution sites.
As CBD’s emerge from lockdown and come to terms with the ‘new normal’, we may see existing infrastructure such as underutilised carparks repurposed into logistics and fulfilment centres.
Leading sustainability – Sustainability will continue to be high on the agenda for both the industrial property sector and its customers. Proactively striving to power assets with renewable energy, minimising electricity and water usage, and making sure all new properties across our portfolio are minimum 5-star Green Star certified are essentials for the Frasers Property Industrial team and has been for some time now. Looking ahead, electric vehicles are set to dominate our roads in the coming decade, and this extends to logistics fleets. In preparation for this, our team are ensuring our assets are future-ready. This means onsite electrical vehicle and truck charging capabilities and hi-tech backbones integrated into our assets. This year, Frasers Property Industrial achieved re-certification as carbon-neutral under the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for the fifth consecutive year, along with our commitment to achieve net-zero carbon by the end of 2030 in Australia and Europe.
Putting the workforce first – Last but certainly not least, the mental health of all workers involved in the industry needs to be supported to a greater extent. In SuperFriend’s 2020 Thriving Workplace Survey which highlights at-risk industries and populations, the transport, postal and warehousing industry had the lowest index score (62.1) out of the 19 industries measured.
In December last year, Frasers Property Industrial announced our partnership with the Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds Foundation to work together to tackle the mental health and wellbeing issues faced by many within the sector. As well as partnering with industry leaders, we’re creating premium state-of the-art facilities which positively contribute to the physical and mental health of workers onsite. From running tracks, green spaces, to BBQ areas and food offerings onsite, this amenity is integral to supporting the health and wellbeing of workers involved in warehousing and trucking.
It’s set to be another huge year for the industrial sector and the momentum of the past decade is not showing signs of slowing. Last year, we were challenged and pushed to find new and better ways of doing things and this approach and innovation should be continued in 2021 so we can continue making the places for our customers to build their futures.