Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

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Review of The Year – Industry takes gold in Olympic year

Welcome to the Warehouse Logistics News Review of The Year 2012. As the stories and interviews in this supplement show, the UK’s warehousing and logistics industry certainly got into the Olympic spirit in 2012 and seized its ‘Moment to Shine’ like one of the torchbearers.

Despite the damping effect of the sluggish economic climate, the persistent rains that threatened to wash out the Jubilee weekend, the floods in many parts of the UK and the re-routing of London’s traffic for the Olympics, thanks to the warehousing and logistics industry the goods still got through to the nation’s consumers and the vital supplies reached the essential services.

The logistics people at LOCOG, the Olympic Games Organising Committee, had been talking confidently about their plans well over a year before the opening ceremony, and their faith was certainly justified when both the Olympics and Paralympics delivered so spectacularly.

The British public takes the warehouse and logistics industry’s efforts for granted, of course. Even so we saw a senior politician’s appreciation of the value of one part of it in late November when PM David Cameron visited the Nacco Materials Handling Group factory in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, the biggest one of the few remaining counterbalance fork truck factories in the British Isles, making some 14,000 forklift trucks each year.

Speaking to the Nacco workforce on the shop floor Mr Cameron stressed the importance of manufacturing operations like Nacco to the UK’s ability to compete and succeed in what he called “the global race.” And so he should. British warehousing and logistics thrives on inward investment by overseas-based companies like Nacco, with many of the world’s top manufacturers of such items as storage systems, WMS, conveyors and sortation, doors and fork trucks having a strong presence here and a commitment to their UK customers.

Coincidentally, one of 2012’s major developments on the fork truck dealership front was Nacco’s UK distributor Briggs Equipment’s purchase of Barloworld Handling’s UK assets. The move made Briggs the exclusive UK dealer for Hyster products, responsible for UK sales and service of Hyster and Yale lift trucks.

The big supermarkets and other major UK retailers continued to invest heavily in warehousing and logistics in 2012, driven by the need to compete for customers in the multi-channel environment, where home shopping and physical stores support each other in the mix. Highlighting the contribution made by independent suppliers in a market historically dominated by large manufacturers, but where the smaller specialists come up with many of the new ideas, the British-owned fork truck maker Translift Bendi won the Innovation Award in Asda’s annual Store Proposition Awards for its pedestrian operated Mini Bendi, honouring the effect this truck has had on reducing Asda’s construction costs while also solving work place transport challenges.

Given the pressures to maximise output and productivity, health and safety is crucial in materials handling operations of all sizes, with at least one worker hospitalised every day in an avoidable fork lift truck accident. In September hundreds of UK businesses showed their commitment to fork lift truck safety by taking part in the Fork Lift Truck Association’s Go for Gold Challenge during National Fork Truck Safety Week. The online quiz invited companies to demonstrate their understanding of four key areas of fork truck safety: planning, training, maintenance and Thorough Examination. With a certificate awarded to companies achieving over 80%, and 15 months of free Safe User Group membership for the top ten companies overall, the response was overwhelming, with over half of entrants reaching the ‘Gold Standard’.

Every industry needs its personalities, and the annual UKWA Awards, held in July, do their bit to honour individual contributions. But the undoubted star of the warehouse and logistics industry remains Pall-Ex founder and owner Hilary Devey, who was on our screens regularly in 2012 in Dragons Den, bringing a much needed degree of glamour to the pallet exchange network business, which she has done so much to transform by raising the bar for hub and customer service excellence.

As a sector, Pall-Ex and the other UK pallet networks owe part of their remarkable growth, even during recessionary times, to the flexibility of their offerings. According to the Association of Pallet Networks, the next-day service offered by its members now consistently accounts for over 63% of pallet volume. Varying pallet load size has also helped to spur growth to over 15.3 million movements a year.

Looking ahead to 2013, the way the industry uses timber pallets is set to change, with the new European EU995/2010 regulations taking effect in March and the forthcoming likely restrictions in movement of untreated and uncertified timber pallets across borders within Europe. As Mark Springham, Director of Inka Presswood Pallets, the treated timber pallet suppliers, explained in our interview in our November 15th issue, EU995/2010 complements the ISPM15 regulations introduced a decade ago to prevent the spread of threats to plant species around the world through the uncontrolled global movement of wooden packaging materials (WPM) and dunnage.

At the very least, untreated WPM can be impounded and delayed at border controls; at worst, the whole consignment can be destroyed.

So what else can we look forward to in 2013? For definite, continued strong exports and more inward investment. Yes, Brazil, India and China are important markets for us, but the US still remains Britain’s biggest overseas market, accounting for 20% of export earnings. And for growing numbers of overseas materials handling and warehouse equipment suppliers Britain remains a credible place to invest in.

Against this optimistic backdrop warehousing and logistics is still a great industry to work in, with plenty of opportunities for bright people, and as part of the private sector it goes on creating jobs. With the help of the ‘WL’ industry, growth in UK manufacturing and other areas of the economy is definitely achievable, though rising fuel prices will make reducing energy costs and being green an urgent concern from here on in.

As an exporting nation we are strongly placed to do well in world markets, and go for gold again in 2013 and beyond – provided we keep our warehousing and logistics industry in good shape. Over to you!

Warehouse Logistics News

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