Modular Construction Brings Functional, Flexible Solutions to the Industrial Market
Application: Modular Offices / Critical Control Centers
Location: CA – 2017
A new distribution facility recently built by a global traditional and e-commerce retailer is a case study in cutting edge. The facility spans nearly half a million square feet, storing and distributing products for its stores in nearby states. It also houses some of the most sophisticated automation technology found on warehouse floors.
With the installation of this automation, other needs emerged at this new facility, which needed to be addressed. “The building was built and then the decision was made to install this automation almost immediately afterward,” according to the project’s lead logistics engineer. “For all intents and purposes, the building was designed as a regular warehouse, so adding this automation has created some growing pains.”
One challenge: how to incorporate a critical control center and much-needed workspace into a facility already filled with automation. The organization contacted Allied Modular to install another cutting-edge solution gaining traction and attention in the industry because of its ability to meet industry demands, namely, a modular structure that is cost-effective, flexible, easy to install and reusable.
Industry Demands, the Call for Flexibility
The automation immediately brought into this facility and consequent challenges that resulted reflect the fast-paced, ever-changing business landscape in which distribution centers operate today. “E-commerce continues to have far-reaching implications, prompting manufacturers, suppliers and distributors to adapt their supply chains to meet the new service demands it creates,” according to global commercial real estate firm CBRE, whose 2017 Real Estate Market Outlook goes on to explain that “e-commerce users require three times more space on average than traditional warehouse users.”
Consequently, the growth in e commerce has bolstered demand for additional warehouse and distribution space. As new distribution centers are built and existing spaces retrofitted to accommodate this need, distributors focus on technology and process improvements to curb operational costs, remain competitive and preserve net profit levels. This has some businesses considering cost-effective, flexible alternatives to traditional construction as they build out these spaces, such as prefabricated, pre-engineered modular construction.
Modular Solutions Meeting Specific Needs
With limited space available, the company worked with Allied Modular to find a modular solution that would address all the needs associated with the new automation in their facility.
“We were challenged to provide a control room and some office space between two of the most complex pieces of the system,” explained one lead engineer, who added the designated space had specific design challenges that included two small mezzanines at different heights that were used to elevate the automation and very limited space.
There were other special requirements as well. The solution had to include windows on all sides of the control room to enable 360-degree viewing of the automation, adequate protection from the cold temperature in the warehouse and a unique color matching request.
The result was two connecting modular structures, a control room and office workspace, each just over seven feet wide built on the existing mezzanines, which met all the specific requirements for the project.
The modular solution offered numerous benefits, according to the project’s lead logistics engineer:
Flexibility/Reusability that Delivers Big Benefits. The modular structures offered the flexibility of pre-fabricated panels that were easily configured and installed within the limited space and could be moved and reused with ease if needed – saving time, meeting present and future needs and eliminating more cost down the road. “Warehouses are constantly changing with new technology and can go in many different ways,” he said. “If we ever need that space back from an operations standpoint or the building changed in some way, shape, or form, we have the ability to move the structures to another area.”
Convenient, Pre-wired Raceways. Modular pre-wired raceways made electrical installation convenient and quick. “Essentially, you just tie-in to the electrical box,” he explained. “That makes it quite easy once the structure is installed.”
Special Aesthetic Considerations. Located in in a showcase facility with leading-edge technology, the modular structures also had the specific aesthetic requirement of a unique color for the building trim, which Allied Modular was able to match. The facility will host many visitors in the immediate future, including internal management, who will be on-site to see the new operation in action.
Quality Materials for Specific Requirements. Situated in a refrigerated warehouse that is maintained at a constant 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the office and control room structures required panels, insulated doors and double paned windows designed to keep out the cold. Allied Modular was able to exceed the organization’s expectations in meeting these specific requirements, according to the on-site project lead, who stated, “The quality was there – and definitely met our needs.”
Design Support from Allied Modular. The design phase of the project was a collaborative effort, according logistics crews, and started with a drawing that the team created from which Allied Modular was able to provide the detailed design for the two structures on two abutting platforms within the tight footprint.
Easy Installation and Take-down. The installation and design phases of the project were very successful, according to the logistics team, who emphasized the convenience of the pre-wired raceways in the installation process. The ease of take-down and reusability aspects of the structures was also of huge appeal, according to the project’s logistics engineer. “To have an office structure very close to something and then to realize ‘hey, I need to build this area out’ and be able to relocate is probably the biggest of all benefits.”