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Are UK warehouses full? Or is it a question of utilisation?

05 July 2019

The warehouse and logistics industry took centre stage in the news this week, reporting that UK warehouses are already “full” due to Brexit stockpiling and a lack of available stock.

However, SEC Storage’s commercial director, Harry Watts suggests that while physical warehouse space is in short supply, better utilisation of the cube may provide a more cost-effective and sustainable solution to the ‘space-problem’.

“Although I understand and agree with the view that there is a lack of warehousing stock, I can't agree with the sentiment that our warehouses are ‘full’ ”, comments Harry Watts, Cranfield University graduate and Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

“In the UK we vastly under-utilise the space that we have at our disposal, often using out of date or inappropriate storage media to store and pick from, as well as often failing to manage inventory levels effectively, particularly when it nears the end of its product life-cycle.”

“In all the time we at SEC Storage have been designing warehouse solutions, I don't believe that we have ever been invited in to a warehouse where we couldn't create additional space through design. It just requires a holistic viewpoint, with an understanding that there are far more solutions out there than traditional pallet racking.”

The new October 31st Brexit deadline will be in the middle of the logistics industry peak season, with challenges including Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, which will typically fill any extra capacity within the logistics network. This was echoed by the CEO of the country’s largest supermarket retailer.

Harry Watts comments further: “There will be no easy answer, considering the timescales taken to increase the supply of warehouse space, but I believe that there is a lot we can do to solve our ‘space-problem’ just by thinking about the cube we already have, in a slightly different way.

“It's time that our first thoughts around warehousing space is not ‘We're full let's build some more’, but rather ‘how can we optimise the space that we have?’

“It's a more cost effective, more agile and hugely more sustainable approach” closes Harry Watts.