On-demand warehousing: A sustainable storage solution

Sharing resources and collaborating is one approach UK industry can adopt to improve its environmental impact, operate more sustainably and mitigate against the disruption caused by events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online warehousing marketplace, oneVASTwarehouse.com, enables this collaboration by bringing businesses together to share storage, and optimise the space and transport resources available across the country.

Businesses have a shared responsibility to treat sustainability with more respect than ever before. Reducing environmental impact in all we do through a series of large-scale initiatives and smaller actions is essential, with a huge potential combined effect.

Every supply chain depends on having a flexible storage and distribution solution, which has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration can ensure that the supply chain can flex with demand whilst ensuring service and sustainability remain a key focus. Maximising the space available to us is one answer.

Be wise, optimise
Research from Savills revealed that 93.2% of the UK’s warehousing space was occupied during the second quarter of the 2019/20 financial year. One obvious response to this apparent lack of space is to build more storage facilities.

But a more sustainable solution to the problem is to maximise the remaining percentage (which equates to more than 3 million sq.ft.) and utilise the gaps that exist within occupied facilities.

This approach is much more environmentally friendly. It reduces the amount of new space needed, and the resources required to create and maintain it.

To unlock this space and ensure that it’s being used effectively, businesses need to collaborate. Collaboration, in this sense, is offering underutilised space to other businesses in need of it.

To unblock this space and ensure that it’s being used effectively, businesses need to collaborate.  Collaboration, in this sense, is offering, underutilised space to other businesses in need of it.”

In years gone by, this process would have been manual and difficult. But the growing role and convergence of technologies across the supply chain has changed the landscape. For example, oneVASTwarehouse.com exists as an online marketplace, allowing businesses to advertise unused sections of their storage facilities directly to a pool of customers looking for storage space. This can range from high and low bay racking, and outside yard space; right through to entire warehouse facilities.

Location and consolidation
As well as the benefits of working together to optimise storage space, on-demand, shared-user storage opens up further possibilities for collaboration with environmental benefits.

There’s the simple fact that businesses can reduce their distance to market. In real terms this means miles on the road can be reduced by strategically storing goods closer to the end consumer. For example, a construction company could access on-demand storage space close to the location of a major infrastructure project for the duration of its involvement. This has the potential to lower the overall distance of travel, with each individual journey made shorter.

The possibility of consolidating loads is there too. A retail business could store goods in a shared location with a major grocer ready for onward transportation to the same region, so it makes sense to consolidate what may have been two partial loads into one for a single journey. This is more efficient in terms of cost and better for the environment.

Sharing warehouse space and working together in mutually beneficial partnerships is a positive step along our journey towards sustainable storage solutions. As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, no individual or business exists alone; working together can help all to overcome the challenges faced.