With complex DC design and construction projects, small oversights can lead to big holdups and delays. Asking the right questions beforehand can help keep your project on track.
Opening a new distribution center (DC) is a major event for any company, but—unless you’re Amazon—it’s typically not something that you do every month. So it’s all too easy to overlook some issues or concerns that could affect the success of the facility (and your entire supply chain) for years to come.
One key to avoiding that trap is to ask the right questions. For example, at the start of the process, when you’re considering general locations, these questions would be ones regarding the site’s suitability from a distribution network perspective, such as how close you’ll be to your customers and suppliers, how good the existing logistics infrastructure is, and how easy or hard it will be to find the right type of employees.
But what about when you have narrowed your search to a few specific sites within your target region? What information do you need to make sure you pick the best possible spot and end up with the best possible DC layout? After talking to a few experts, we have compiled some examples of the kinds of questions companies should ask themselves before breaking ground or signing the lease.
1.Are you sure you have executive buy-in? It may seem obvious that you need executive approval before embarking on a capital project like building a new DC. Yet time and time again, site selection projects are put on hold or delayed because project leaders did not get approval from high enough up the food chain, according to John Morris, who leads the industrial services group for the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. For example, Morris remembers one client that had to stop and make its pitch for a new DC three different times—first regionally, then to the company’s headquarters in North America, and then again to the world headquarters in Europe. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, get the support and approval of someone at the C-level from the start.
2.Is everyone on the same page? When it comes to designing the building itself, you need not just an architect and a general contractor but also a team of specialists to plot out the work processes and determine the facility’s layout. The facility design team should work closely with the operations, finance, and IT (information technology) or systems group to make sure it is accurately capturing the company’s existing processes and business. It may also want to consult with your systems integrator and/or equipment suppliers to make sure it has up-to-date info on the equipment’s specs and power requirements.