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What is “The Equites Way”?

20 July 2023

If you caught our first SAPICS takeaway blog, you’ll know that we recently exhibited at the 45th annual conference and our CEO, Andrea Taverna-Turisan shared his insights on the future of warehousing.

With the massive boom in online shopping, the retail supply chain has changed drastically and continues to do so. As Andrea discussed, we’ve seen unprecedented logistics processes come into play in the UK and other international locations, and it won’t be long at all until those reach South Africa.

At Equites, it’s ingrained in our DNA to think ahead with purpose, and we always encourage tenants to do the same—but, more than that, we equip them to be future-ready. In this blog, we’re going to place a special focus on “The Equites Way” as Andrea unpacked it during his talk.

We describe our ethos this way because we’re the only landlord that places a sole focus on improving warehouses for supply chain efficiency. We strive with complete dedication, often pushing boundaries, to offer a best-in-class solution to tenants—and here’s what that entails:

 

We consider aesthetics and minimise maintenance

When it comes to developing warehouses, we don’t use any external plaster or brickwork. Everything is designed and built with tilt-up concrete panels, sheeting and glass for the neatest appearance. That being the case—removing the need for plaster and paint—we minimise the need for maintenance.

 

We plan for efficiency and consider health and safety requirements

From either a health and safety perspective or a means of optimising efficiency, we employ a number of baseline specifications at our modern distribution centres that include:

  • Perimeter walls constructed using tilt-up concrete panels
  • FM2 flooring (TR 34 4th edition, with a minimum load-bearing capacity of 90 Kn/m2)
  • A 15.5 m clear springing/eave height
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting
  • Access to solar PV systems
  • One battery charging bay per 1 000 m2 of GLA
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • 18 m canopies over on-grade doors
  • 7 m canopies over dock loading doors
  • Insulated sectional doors with viewing panels
  • Kelly dock-levellers (imported from the USA and assembled locally)
  • A reinforced concrete yard depth of at least 50 m2 to the face of warehouses
  • Pumps and tanks

To give our tenants the scope to be able to work most efficiently—24 hours a day, if needed—we’ve spent significant time developing the above criteria. And because this is all we do, we constantly learn and refine solutions, especially as technology evolves.

In addition, we work several high-profile professionals who also work to better themselves on a continual basis.

 

We collaborate with other experts for the best end product

Working together with our clients on one side, we encourage the tenant to consult with a team of industrial engineers in the middle and assist our tenants in understanding what would work best for their product range. This ultimately ensures that we design to meet their specific needs within the facility from the very beginning.

 

We apply international insights and think ahead to avoid the need to retrofit

With extensive experience on our side, we’ve brought back insights from how processes and builds are performed in the UK and apply those learnings to warehousing infrastructure here. For example, in the UK, we’ve seen the need for tailgate facilities—an undercut beneath the dock.

Because the world of logistics is evolving, tailgate trucks will become more of a norm in South Africa as more deliveries get delivered to the final consumer in their homes. With that in mind, we advise designing tailgate facilities into properties upfront—it just makes sense to think ahead to avoid the need to retrofit and to save significantly on costs.

To illustrate with another example, we’ve implemented the use of drains that run the entire length of the facility, where heavy rains occur, rather than the standard (but imperfect science) of introducing gradients in the yard. This is also something we noted being used extensively in the UK and works well to prevent damage to concrete where water pools without these drains in place.

 

We build smartly and safely to maximise height

Another trend we’ve seen unfold in the UK, where rental costs have escalated significantly, is the move to taller buildings in order to decrease the cost per pallet position by providing more volume.

As depicted below, an Equites “standard” product is presented, where we include capacity for nine levels of stacking. With this as our model, we increase the pallet capacity by 50% and notably reduce the rent per pallet.

 

Bearing the above in mind, quoting rent per square metre is yesterday’s way of thinking. There’s a much bigger picture to look at when designing and creating a facility.

To retrofit warehouses to give them extra height, however, not only necessitates putting more steel up, but digging up foundations and making them heavier—this is needed for stabilisation to keep the warehouses in place. This is, of course, an extremely expensive process.

Our hope at Equites is that there may be opportunities in future to start buying up some older facilities in certain areas, knocking them down and starting again.

 

We operate with the environment in mind

As a company, we decided about five years ago to go big into the environmental, social and governance (ESG) sector of the market. Not only has this shaped our implementation process but it has also meant that we’ve been able to facilitate raising green bonds, which allows for savings that we can distribute to shareholders.

We’re currently at the point where we’ve reached 9.4 MW of electricity production by solar power and we’re looking to probably add another 9 MW to that in the next two years.

We’re also particularly proud of the fact that the City of Cape Town has included us in the new process of selling electricity back into the grid, as we have 1.3 million m2 of roof space that we can put extra panels onto.

With the type of experience we have on our side, we really focus on assisting our clients to ensure that they’re set up for success in the ESG space themselves. Some tenants locally are aiming to get off of the grid, and while we don’t supply batteries ourselves, we are able to offer advice and link them up with the best-in-class providers.

Others, including multinational corporations with operations in South Africa, need to make decisions that will help them reach their carbon-neutral goals, with the 2030 carbon emissions target in place. The decisions they’re facing involve looking at whether to retrofit energy solutions to an existing 20-year-old building, for example, or taking the plunge and building a carbon-neutral building with proper energy solutions in place.

Guiding our clients along this process is a key part of what we do—and it’s this, together with each of the abovementioned components that makes up “The Equites Way”.

 

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, don’t hesitate to reach out.

© 2024 Equites Property Fund Ltd.
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