A few short decades after scientists began working towards its invention, artificial intelligence (AI) is finally here - and it is set to transform manufacturing plants and distribution centres.

Mia Hunt

It has already been adopted by forward-thinking retailers such as Ocado. If you visit its Andover warehouse - one of the most automated in the world - you will see hundreds of robots pick and pack groceries.

And it isn’t just AI that’s making its mark. Innovations including drone delivery, smart technology, predictive analytics and on-demand manufacturing are also being trialled or adopted by occupiers.

So does this mean the wholesale reinvention of the shed? Experts think not. There will be some change, of course, but the consensus is that sheds built in the past 20 years are a long way from functional obsolescence, despite technological advancements.

Drone carrying parcel

How will tech innovations like drones carrying parcels impact the industrial sector? - Source: Shutterstock/Sanit Fuangnakhon

It’s food for thought for landlords - as is the imminent enforcement of MEES, which will make it unlawful to let any building that doesn’t achieve a minimum energy rating. According to Savills, a fifth of the UK’s shed stock could be in need of modernisation.

One person who is well placed to help landlords and occupiers navigate some of these issues is Sally Duggleby, who ranked 24th in Property Week’s inaugural Power List. She recently left Amazon to head up Savills’ industrial and logistics occupier services offer.

Her former employer has disrupted the property industry, creating a vast network of sheds fitted with state-of-the-art technology. Amazon has already used AI to help accelerate profit growth. Now others look set to follow suit.

Mia Hunt is Property Week’s market reports editor