FDM Warehousing on the move

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

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  • Plant & Equipment

With plans to double in size over the next five years, logistics and transport group FDM Warehousing (FDM) has secured a new purpose-built facility in Sydney to accommodate growth

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International warehouse, transport and logistics provider FDM Warehousing will be moving into a new 16,745-square-metre purpose-built facility in Frasers Property Australia’s Eastern Creek Business Park early next year.

The $31 million warehouse on Honeycomb Drive will comprise a 16,200sqm distribution facility, 435sqm main office, a 110sqm dock office and 145 car spaces. A five-year lease has been secured for the building, which will provide warehousing and distribution as well as pick-and-pack operations capable of working 24/7.

FDM CEO Patrick Jobidon says it is the second transaction the company has negotiated with Frasers Property Australia.  It leases another building owned by Frasers Logistics Trust located less than a kilometre from the new facility.

FDM’s project partner TM Insight has ensured the Honeycomb Drive facility is specifically designed to accommodate FDM’s future growth.

It is the first time the company has fully designed a building around its storage and operational requirements, TM Insight director Travis Erridge says.

"FDM is the first client that has designed the facility around their customers rather than take a building and fit it out," Erridge says. "We actually designed the building inside out; understanding their storage requirements and future operational needs including automation, so there was a lot of upfront work in sizing and appropriately designing the internal fitout when we went to the market.

"That’s the first time they had ever done that as a company in Australia."

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Close relationships

FDM and TM Insight spent six months working closely to understand their customer requirements. "We came up with a couple of designs which also looked at larger scale consolidation of two facilities into one," Erridge says.

"They’re coming out of a basic manual facility which wasn’t designed for them – it was basically just a facility that they took over just by the necessity of space and fitted it out the best they could.

"So it was manual operation and it wasn’t designed for the product type, so the initial brief for us was understanding how many container movements per week and per day they were going to do and how much throughput in terms of inbound and outbound product and the types of handling that product was what we needed to understand to then design the internals."

With a five-year growth strategy in mind, the move from a 7,000 sum facility will ensure there’ll be plenty of room for new customers at the new facility, Erridge says. Moving from a warehouse that had no loading docks, the new build will have six container docks that will accommodate every vehicle up to a B-double.

"This is a huge departure from their old facility where they had no container docks and a very small canopy and a low-grade facility – so it’s a significant change," Erridge says. "They’re actively in the market trying to bring in new customers into this building; this was all part of the plan to allow for future growth."

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Not a generic shed

The new facility’s building specifications will allow FDM’s fulfilment capabilities to be multi-functional and serve more customers, Jobidon says. "The versatility of this facility will enable us to assist more customers in Australia and propel the business into the future," he adds.

With "aggressive" plans to expand business, its old site did not have the size capacity to accommodate growth. The company moved into its existing Wonderland Drive facility in 2013. It approached TM Insight in 2017 and spent the first six weeks in workshops learning about its operational and management needs and how the company wanted to evolve.

"That helped us crystallise the right design and size; I was very conscious to get this right," Jobidon says. "That was followed by a two-phased property procurement process – stage one where all options suitable to our needs were identified and stage two where the technical design brief TM Insight prepared was issued to the shortlisted owners.

"At the conclusion of stage two we undertook site inspections and meetings with the shortlisted owners. Once we had chosen Frasers as our preferred landowner we negotiated the agreement for lease."

Having spent a significant time with TM Insight to get the project right, FDM was very particular about creating a building that its clients and staff could be proud of.

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"From a business perspective we needed to prudently reduce risk and cost exposure now and into the future," Jobidon says.

"From a technical building perspective our new facility will offer benefits such as: an eight-tonne point on the warehouse floor ensuring we can erect a mezzanine within the warehouse; an expansive yard area solely for the use of trucks servicing the warehouse; a regular-shaped hardstand ensuring we get full utilisation of space without having to compromise as a result of irregular site boundaries; and a smart solution to the positioning of the warehouse ridge, which improved our pallet capacity potential."

The building will also be temperature sensitive, which will reduce heat during warm months.

"This is a huge awning so we can operate as normal when it rains and offices that benefited from expensive natural light and also looked over the warehouse yard to showcase how we operate our business to customers," Jobidon says.

With safety in mind, FDM wanted to split the car and truck access points, requesting a five-star green star certified design.

"This has added the benefit of reducing our operating expenses, which we can clearly measure," he adds.

"Overall I am very happy with the attributes this facility will offer our business; we are getting a truly bespoke building and one that meets our specific needs – not a generic shed that needs to be retro-fitted to suit once we move in and expose our business to unforeseen cost variations now and when we may exit some time into the future. That has been the big difference with this process – we got real value for money."

The facility will support three key verticals – direct selling, wellbeing and apparels – with customers shipping directly to consumers. There will be at least 30 B-doubles and at least a dozen small pick and delivery vans entering the site daily. FDM is dealing with Toyota for its forklift needs and will have more than 20 lifts at the warehouse. All software has been developed internally through its own IT group.

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Changing times

TM Insight is seeing an increasing shift in the way people think about their supply chain and operations.

"The fastest-growing segment in the property market at the moment is the industrial segment and I think if you look at why that is, it’s very much around the changing face of how people get their products – whether that be online or direct to customer delivery; the days of the shed being out at the back and people buying things at a store level and a dirty warehouse at the back are gone," Erridge says.

"People have to be efficient and smart about how they do their warehousing and that goes right from 3PL to retailers. We’re seeing a significant shift in the way people are thinking about their supply chain and operations – more so than the property component, they’re actually thinking about how they want to operate a facility and what type of operations they want with it, be it automated or no automation.

"Five years ago we would only see the big players like Coles and Woolworths think that way because of the scale of their operations. We’re now seeing smaller and private organisations looking at it that way because the only way to stay competitive in this environment.

"For most organisations, less than 30 per cent of their annual operating cost is the property rent, so if you think about the other 70 per cent operating, there’s no point in saving $1.50 on the rent square if you’re impacting 70 per cent of your operational cost," he adds.

"That message is now being adhered to by most companies; they want a full solution and not just a property solution and FDM is another example of it. It’s just another example of people who are thinking about their total cost of operating and not just the property – and that’s the key."

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