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Spike in Online Shopping Leads to Rise of New Distribution Centers

Over the last two decades, online retail sales have grown rapidly in the United States. In 1998, ecommerce represented only $5 million in retail sales while annual online sales topped $474 billion in 2018. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. online sales have risen even more dramatically. In just September alone, online sales were $60.4 billion, representing a 43 percent jump from the previous year. Growing online sales can be attributed to ecommerce retail giants, such as Amazon and eBay. However, retailers, such as Target, Walmart, and Home Depot, which, have both an online presence and brick and mortar stores are experiencing a tremendous increase in ecommerce also. To accommodate these online sales, massive distribution centers are being built in Illinois and other states across the country. Many members of the Northern Illinois Concrete Contractors have been instrumental in constructing these facilities.

Building a Distribution Center
Distribution centers cost millions of dollars to build and are becoming more expensive every year because of their growing footprints. In 2016 the average square footage of a distribution center was 539,000 and by 2018 it had jumped to over 672,000 square feet. These expanding structures are necessary to accommodate the higher volume of merchandise and the increasing number of SKUs that are being stocked. And, concrete is the key material used in the construction of these massive facilities, from their heavily trafficked floors to their soaring walls.
The Importance of the Distribution Center Floor
A quality floor is the most important element of a distribution center. It must support towering racks of merchandise that are 30 feet tall. Plus, they must accommodate traffic from people as well as forklifts and pallet stackers. A poor-quality concrete floor or one that is not well maintained can adversely affect daily operations.

The floor is the easiest part of a building to construct incorrectly. However, it is the hardest part to fix if an issue does occur. To help avoid floor problems, a preliminary soil and compaction test should be conducted prior to pouring the concrete slab. In addition, the earth may have to be chemically treated to ensure stability. Even a good warehouse floor can have issues due to the earth underneath settling. In extreme cases, entire industrial buildings have been torn down due to poorly installed floors.

The next step involves using the proper concrete mix and reinforcement. Then satisfactory curing and appropriate joint spacing are necessary to guarantee a sturdy concrete floor that is not susceptible to cracking over time.

Concrete is a very porous material; therefore, it should be treated with a chemically resistant coating. Over time, agents such as oils, chemicals, and even certain foods, can have an adverse effect on concrete floors.

Tackling Towering Concrete Walls
Distribution center concrete walls can be built using one of two different methods:
• Pre-cast concrete construction is a building method where concrete is poured into a mold or a “form” off-site. This takes place in a manufacturing facility, which provides a controlled environment for curing. Once the wall is finished then it is lifted into place on the construction site.
Pre-cast concrete construction offers many benefits. With pre-cast construction, everything is prepared in advance, so there is no need for a concrete slab to cure and dry. This method can help speed up a project. As we all know, time is money so tremendous cost savings can be experienced. Also, since this process replicates the same panels over and over, it is relatively easy to build an entire distribution center to uniform specifications. This can make expansion and repairs easier and less expensive too.
• Tilt-Up concrete construction is a method of building, which involves pouring the concrete panels right on the job site. After they are cured, then the walls are raised or tilted up using cables attached to a crane.
Tilt-up concrete construction can lead to several cost savings. First, local materials are used; therefore, raw material cost is kept to a minimum. Next, crews are often smaller and less expensive since they are usually comprised of local workers. Finally, onsite storage costs are kept to a minimum.
E-Commerce Giant Keeps Expanding
Distribution centers for an e-commerce leader are popping up across Illinois. Currently, the company operates 13 facilities occupying millions of square feet. And they are not done yet. Recently, the company announced expansion plans that include two more distribution centers in the southern Chicago area suburbs of Matteson and Markham. These giant centers have made possible thanks to the concrete work completed by a member of the Northern Illinois Concrete Contractors.
No Industrial Project is too Big

Distribution centers are popping up across the country thanks to the rise in e-commerce. And, it does not look like this trend will be ending any time soon, especially with the pandemic still prevalent throughout the United States. Without the hard work of the members of the Northern Illinois Concrete Contractors, these distribution centers would not exist to support online shopping.

If you are planning to build a new distribution center, visit our online directory to find the perfect concrete contractor for your project. .


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