Addressing cleaning challenges in the ‘always on’ logistics sector

Addressing cleaning challenges in the ‘always on’ logistics sector

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The unrelenting growth of online shopping, and global supply chain uncertainties, combined with the departure of the UK from the European customs union are each driving new distribution challenges. As the logistics and distribution sector continues its surge, and large-scale warehouses take over the nation’s urban property landscape, SBFM explores the need for effective management of cleaning strategies as facilities grow.

Warehouse floorspace continues to expand at a meteoric pace, with the average-sized unit increasing from 217,000 sq. ft in 2015 to 340,000 sq. ft in 2020[1]. A 2021 report by Savills, commissioned by the UKWA, meanwhile, reveals a 32% rise in the number of warehousing units and a 242% increase in units of more than 1m sq. ft in the UK alone[2].

The trend for larger warehouses and distribution centres presents its own distinct set of challenges, but one less considered is the need to maintain heightened levels of cleanliness and hygiene across larger-scale units.

Efficiency lives where cleanliness thrives

Owing to the scale of today’s warehouses, cleaning can be an overwhelming task, particularly when you consider the complexities of modern-day logistics operations. From vast storage zones to busy loading and unloading bays, dedicated order picking and employee breakout areas, maintaining hygiene expands far beyond the remit of traditional daily cleaning regimes.

Often keeping a warehouse clean, tidy and safe necessitates a more tailored approach using an assortment of dedicated cleaning and facilities management solutions. This can include everything from high level cleans for racking, to deep cleaning, floor cleaning, window cleaning, and much more.

Not to mention the requirement for effective COVID-19 disinfecting, and decontaminating protocols to mitigate or even react to secondary breakouts. All of which must be performed while facilities are in operation, making for an extremely difficult logistical challenge.

When it comes to navigating the intricacies of the ‘always-on’ sector, building resilience and agility to maintain service continuity often holds the key to overcoming the trials of industrial cleaning. Today’s most successful FM providers are those that are able to respond to unforeseen requirements, scale up as needed and continually improve their service delivery to meet client needs throughout the lifetime of the contract.

Building resilience

The growth of e-commerce and home delivery means that there is a new requirement for warehouses to operate as fulfilment centres, transitioning away from the traditional function as storage spaces. This has created a need for a new 24/7 business model where facilities are constantly occupied and operational.

As such, today’s distribution centres are fast-paced environments, with high volumes of traffic, a lot of packaging waste, tight deadlines, busy people, and often unpredictable daily peaks and troughs in activity.

It’s imperative that logistics providers partner with a cleaning provider that understands their challenges and knows how to shape the service to their needs, building in flexibility to respond to daily changes in site activity, resilience to deliver service continuity, and scalability to cope with seasonal surges in demand.

For SBFM, the challenge is always more than just keeping the sites clean. We have built a substantial business by finding out what customers want and need. and delivering it.

Adapting to ongoing operational requirements and changing customer demands is second nature to managers at every level, and flexibility is something we embed in the company culture, including with frontline operatives. In logistics, the customer’s needs can change rapidly, even on the day, and there are significant seasonal shifts.

SBFM will analyse your operation, using the extensive experience of its operational teams on similar contracts with some of the UK’s largest logistics, and distribution companies. We will show you how cleaning and waste management can contribute to your success. A flexible model will deliver cleaning when it fits in with your operational requirements. With a nationwide operation, we will identify cleaners from other contracts who can provide additional labour to meet seasonal peaks.

Investing in appropriate innovation, we use the latest systems and technology to deliver full staffing, and compliance with health, safety, and environmental legislation. Unrivalled quality is underpinned by a comprehensive performance management toolkit including electronic auditing, and a client dashboard that delivers total transparency.

An experienced partner

For several years SBFM has been providing market-leading cleaning services to the logistics and distribution industry. Using extensive sector expertise, we provide tailored solutions for cleaning resource and activity, closely mapped to the nuances of your operational requirements at each site.

We have vast experience and a proven track record of managing full scale logistics and distribution cleaning across varied distribution activity types including ambient and chilled perishables, dry goods, and automated environments.

To find out how SBFM can drive your distribution centre cleaning strategy forward, contact us today or visit our Logistics and Distribution cleaning page.


[1] https://warehousenews.co.uk/2021/10/property-boom-warehouses-keep-growing/

[2] https://warehousenews.co.uk/2021/10/property-boom-warehouses-keep-growing/