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Keeping staff happy and comfortable has never been more important

The logistics and warehousing sector has always been a vital part of the UK economy, but the first half of 2020 made this far more apparent. Our dependence on deliveries and smooth restocking of essential supplies showed just how much we rely on this part of our supply chain.

The industry has coped with numerous challenges in recent months, but it faced one particular issue even before Covid-19. That was staff shortages. Office staff, drivers and warehouse workers were in high demand.

A report from Cushman & Wakefield points out that in the EU, the share of employees in the warehouse and logistics market who are nearing retirement age (50 – 64) is higher than the average for other industry sectors. Finding and keeping staff is a top priority for management.

Well-designed building services will pay dividends in terms of attracting and retaining the right people.

Kevin Pocock Kevin Pocock Business Development Manager

Changing skills required

Long-term changes are also creating demand for other skills. Adoption of new technologies means that the sector is also looking out for software engineers, project managers and executives. As the logistics sector changes, so do the skills required to succeed. And there is even more competition for this type of employee because they’re also in high demand from other sectors.

A joint report from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Statista highlights these issues. It says that software engineers are tough to recruit, with 23% of firms interviewed saying that it is ‘problematic’ to attract these skills. And that’s not to overlook the other skills required for a warehousing operation, such as HR, finance and health and safety.

Ensuring a good supply of the right people has impacts beyond the sector. If the warehousing and logistic slow down due to lack of skills in the long-term, this will have serious knock-on effects for other industries. One of these is retail, for example, where companies are now looking to pivot to more online sales that require higher stock levels and fast delivery.

A high-quality workplace

Providing attractive workspace is a priority for businesses looking to attract and retain staff. Time and again, research into the workplace has shown how much today’s generation of workers value a high-quality working environment. What’s more, employees who have a workspace that is comfortable and healthy are far more productive. For Mitsubishi Electric, this is one of our primary concerns – creating spaces that work for people.

Air quality and thermal comfort are two issues that have significant impacts on occupant comfort. If a warehouse, office or working space is too cold or too hot, people notice quickly.

Both high and low temperatures are known to reduce productivity. Fortunately, there are several practical ways to provide occupant comfort that are cost-effective and energy-efficient. 

Practical solutions

One example is Mitsubishi Electric’s Hybrid VRF (HVRF) system.

HVRF is a 2-pipe heat recovery VRF which uses water as the medium for carrying heating or cooling as required. The benefit is that users can enjoy the benefits of a chiller in a system designed as traditional VRF. The hybrid approach also uses less refrigerant, reducing installation and maintenance costs.

What’s more, it’s quick, easy and flexible to design and install – making it an excellent solution for time-pressed projects.

Modular chillers such as the Mitsubishi Electric eSeries ranges from 90kW to 180kW units.

These can connect (up to six modules at a time) to meet project requirements accurately, providing a system capacity between 90kW and 1080kW.

The modular approach allows for growing capacity as modules can be added to match heating and cooling demand – or to spread the capital cost.

For logistics centres, often sited close to major roads, indoor air quality (IAQ) is another issue to consider. IAQ in buildings has been the subject of several health-focused studies, all of which agree that indoor air quality should be a priority consideration.

Technologies such as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) is an option that ensures healthy levels of ventilation without impacting occupant comfort by creating draughts. You can read more on the importance of IAQ here.

Mitsubishi Electric also offers air handling units (AHUs) that use inverter heat pump technology to make them excellent for matching exact air conditioning requirements. The Mitsubishi Climaveneta Wizard AHUs are highly flexible and customisable for any project.

An investment that pays dividends

Creating a pleasant and attractive working environment need not be difficult.

With today’s heating and cooling options, it is possible to design a system (or replace an old one) that reduces energy use.

Mitsubishi Electric can help with a variety of technology from heat recovery chillers, heat pumps and even air curtains with heat pump technology. 

In a competitive market for skilled staff, well-designed building services are an investment that will pay dividends in terms of attracting and retaining the right people. 

Kevin Pocock is a Business Development Manager