The Logistics Report: Supply Chain Technology

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INTRODUCTION

Invest now or risk falling behind As businesses sought - finally - to emerge from the shadow of pandemic lockdowns and Brexit confusion, a host of new challenges unrelated to the aftermath of Covid and European trading issues have emerged. A major war in Europe, labour market issues, rampant international inflation, global warehousing capacity shortages and exponential energy price rises are all combining to test supply chain resilience like never before. And, in a world where uncertainty is becoming the accepted everyday experience, companies in all sectors are striving for improved accuracy, efficiency, productivity and sustainability. Quite simply gaining competitive advantage is more essential than ever and those that fail to invest in new efficiency-driving technology and systems or leave it too late, risk falling so far behind the field they may never catch up. So logistics and warehousing is rapidly becoming more technology-driven and in the this issue of The Logistics Report we take a deep dive into some of the areas that are driving the most significant supply chain gains by reducing costs and inaccuracies and improving productivity, efficiency and revenues. For example, on pages 21 and 22 the role of automation in achieving environmental goals is examined by Dave Berridge, Secretary of the Automated Material Handling Systems Association, while starting on page 26, Neil Adcock, Managing Director at Bis Henderson Consulting, reveals how to unlock the value hidden in returns data. Darcy de Thierry, Managing Director of Ferag UK, considers how fashion fulfilment will cope with a return of footfall to the high street and growing omni-channel sales on page 30

Lloyd Arkill, Guest Editor

CONTENTS 04 - IMHX 2022 Review 14 - Supply Chain Technology 38 -Logistics Property 40 - Outsourcing 42 -Packaging

and Frazer Watson from AMR designer and manufacturer iFollow, runs through the key questions customers need to ask when considering an Autonomous Mobile Robot solution on page 36. Of course, a plethora of supply chain and intralogistics technology solutions were on display at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre in September when the International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX) 2022 opened its doors and we start this issue of The Logistics Report by looking back at some of the most eye-catching developments among the host of state-of-the-art products and services on show at this hugely successful event. Many thanks, as ever, to our sponsors, contributors and, of course our readers. I am certain that you will find something of interest within the pages of this report that can be applied to your business. A former editor of SHD magazine, Lloyd Arkill is a partner in the leading specialist logistics and supply chain public relations agency, AMA PR Ltd


IMHX 2022 REVIEW

2022 THE LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS SHOW

Visitors arrive ready to do The UK’s largest and most comprehensive materials handling event - the International Materials Handling Exhibition – took place at Birmingham’s NEC in September and visitors to the show had a real sense of desire to do business Logistics and supply chain professionals headed to

including ALDI, Amazon, ASDA, Boohoo, British Steel,

Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in their

DHL, Halfords, Lidl, NHS Supply Chain, Ocado, Primark,

thousands in September for three days of state-of-the-

Samsung, Tesco, Unipart and Wilko.

art intralogistics solutions, face-to-face networking opportunities and free conference seminars at the UK’s

IMHX 2022 event director, Rob Fisher, commented:

largest and most comprehensive materials handling event

“Visitors came with a real sense of desire to do business.

- the International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX)

I think that was partly down to the fact that this was the first significant materials handling and supply chain

IMHX 2022 attracted senior executives from some of the

technology show post-covid. But it also seems that, for

leading names in the retail and manufacturing industries,

many visitors, IMHX was staged at the perfect point in


IMHX 2022 REVIEW

2022 THE LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS SHOW

business at IMHX 2022 the ready, so to speak.” The mood among exhibitors was upbeat. Andy Bridgewater, UK Sales Manager, German Bionics, summed up the feelings of many of the exhibiting companies when he said: “Nothing beats face-to-face meetings. IMHX 2022 was a great opportunity to meet existing customers, old friends and discover new opportunities. The quality of leads was excellent, we saw all the ‘big fish’ and we already have a good number of follow-up visits in place.” Neil Woodland, Business Development Manager of Hi-Level Mezzanines, was equally ebullient: “Having a dedicated trade show for the logistics and supply chain sector is important, and what a great show it was. A good location,

It seems that for many visitors, IMHX was staged at the perfect point in their buying cycles, so they came with their chequebooks at the ready

their buying cycles, so they came with their chequebooks at


IMHX 2022 REVIEW

2022 THE LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS SHOW

125 tonnes of CO2 offset by IMHX visitors By simply pre-registering to attend IMHX and encouraging members of their network to do the same, visitors were able to offset the carbon that they generated while travelling to and from IMHX 2022. The IMHX Reforestation campaign - in partnership with Ecologi – set out to plant 25 trees for every good venue and good visitors... that’s what a trade show

network that registered to attend and, due to the

is all about.”

high number of registrations, 5,000 trees will be planted and 125 tonnes of CO2 offset.

Stephen Pickering, Group Head of Marketing at Whittan Group Ltd, commented: “We took some 300 good quality

IMHX 2022 Event Director, Rob Fisher, commented:

leads throughout the show. Where else can you engage

“We know that we have a responsibility to not only

with that sort of number of high quality visitors in three

support sustainability, but champion it. We are

days?”

committed to improving the sustainability of IMHX and by partnering with Ecologi we helped tackle the

Chris Hopkirk, Sales Director of ASG Services, said: “I was

effects of climate change.

extremely pleased with the show. There’s definitely a requirement for our products and services and we came away with a number of great opportunities to follow up.

“There was a great range of new products and

Visitor quality was excellent and everyone that came to

technologies on display, which provided a real buzz and

our stand seemed to be looking to do business.”

gave a perfect illustration of how the intralogistics sector is constantly innovating and evolving.”

Miles Griffin, General Manager of Cesab Materials Handling UK, said: “We were extremely busy every day

Featuring several hundred exhibitors, the show was the

of the show. IMHX 2022 attracted quality personnel from

launch pad for some of the most advanced intralogistics

some top companies and many of them were looking to

solutions ever seen – including fully automated forklift

discuss serious business.”

trucks and other robotic handling systems.

Rob Fisher added: “I am delighted that so many exhibitors

One of the highlights of the show was the Sustainability

have hailed IMHX 2022 a success - praising the excellent

Zone. Delivered in partnership with SEC Group, the zone

quality of attendees, the high level of engagement and

provided visitors with everything they need to develop

quantity of new leads and orders taken during the three

an effective sustainability policy or benchmark their

day event.

existing strategy against examples from some of the most successful companies in the industry.

“Our exhibitors, visitors and speakers all contributed to a fantastic show. The aisles were busy with buyers ready

Harry Watts, Managing Director of SEC Group, said: “The

to do business and many of our exhibitors have already

Sustainability Zone at IMHX 2022 used cutting-edge,

reported that significant orders were secured.

immersive technologies to bring different sustainable


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IMHX 2022 REVIEW

2022 THE LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS SHOW

IMHX success leads to 2025 commitment “The 2022 IMHX exhibition proved a real success for B&B Attachments”, comments Mike Barton, Managing Director at B&B Attachments. He continues: “The mood of the show was very upbeat, it was great to finally see our customers face to face again. We had an ideal stand position at the entrance to the show hall and the traffic on our stand was constant over the three days. “ solutions to life and show visitors how much potential

Mike adds: “We exhibited a wide range of forklift

there is to make their own operations more sustainable.

truck attachments on our stand that boost productivity, enhance efficiency, and improve safety.

“We were delighted to welcome so many senior personnel

There was a lot of interest in our new innovations,

from companies of all sizes and diverse industry sectors

including electric handling solutions. The KAUP

who realise that sustainability is going to have a growing

electrically operated and electrically controlled fork

impact on every company’s ability to build and maintain a

positioner T160BE, was a main talking point on our

profitable and agile business model.”

stand. This attachment, together with the unveiling of the Open Centre LayerMaster, our latest solution

IMHX 2022 was supported by several of the UK’s most

in layer picking and depalletising, created quite a

significant logistics industry associations and trade

buzz on the stand.”

bodies, including: Automated Material Handling Systems Association (AMHSA), the UK Materials

“The quality of the enquiries we received was of a

Handling Association (UKMHA); and the UK Warehousing

very high standard. The visitors that came to our

Association (UKWA).

stand, came with a purpose to discuss the many advantages of our handling solutions and were

Dave Berridge, Secretary of AMHSA, commented: “IMHX

ready to do business. “

2022 was vibrant and provided a great opportunity for logistics professionals to discover new ways of improving

“As an exhibitor we were able to capitalise on some

their businesses.”

brilliant opportunities and came away with many new prospects which our team are now following

UK Warehousing Association CEO, Clare Bottle, said: “IMHX

up. As result of the success from the exhibition we

has always been a melting pot for all elements of the

have already re-booked for 2025 and can’t wait for

third party logistics, supply chain planning and materials

another great show. Thank you to everyone that

handling industries. This year’s event was the perfect

visited our stand and to Informa for organising a

place to connect manufacturers and suppliers of a host

brilliant event.”

of products and services with the organisations that have the most to gain from using them.”

who, in partnership with Informa Markets co-own IMHX, said: “IMHX is always a great chance to see the

Tim Waples, CEO of the UK Materials Handling Association

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IMHX 2022 REVIEW

2022 THE LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS SHOW

conventional forklift trucks and pallet movers to state-

The next IMHX will be held at the NEC, Birmingham in

of-the-art intralogistics solutions, all under one roof. This

September 2025. For further information and to enquire

year’s event was a wonderful opportunity to learn about

about stand options please visit www.imhx.net

some of the ways that modern technology is integrating with conventional handling solutions to deliver the kind of operational benefits that supply chain bosses are looking for.”

Free seminars deliver top quality speaker programme

discussing hydrogen fuel technology – a topic on many

With automation high on the agenda of many businesses,

that the energy is totally safe. He acknowledged that

there was plenty to interest visitors to the conference

the Hindenburg disaster is probably the first thing many

sessions held within the Solutions Theatre on day one of

people think of when it comes to hydrogen power, but

IMHX 2022, writes Bonnie Cliff. AMHSA’s Essential Guide to

said that there is no chance of anything similar happening

Warehouse Automation went down a treat: Dave Berridge,

nowadays due to the developments in hydrogen storage

Managing Director at Emkat, alongside Adam Fox, Business

and usage.

minds. Stefan Fenchel, Sustainability Project Manager at BMW, dialled in from Germany to reassure the audience

Development Manager at Swisslog, detailed a twelve-step plan designed to help businesses take their first steps into

The conference continued with a panel showcasing

the automation game.

the results of Generation Logistics’ survey about public perceptions of the industry. While two in five people

Remy Malchirand, Vice President Sales for Western Europe

consider logistics to be a vital sector, under half of

at Exotec, also provided a talk on automation, tackling

those quizzed feel that the sector is important to them

the angle of how to streamline operations with flexible

personally. Gaynor Wilkinson, Head of Strategic Planning

and agile solutions while keeping energy consumption

at Eddie Stobart, celebrated the pace of innovation and

to a minimum. He described how the SkyPod system has

rate of automation, saying that the logistics sphere is an

been successfully deployed at several major European

exciting place to be.

supermarket chains, including Monoprix and Carrefour, and remained optimistic about the future of the UK retail

In the afternoon, there was a demonstration of the

market.

incredible German Bionic exoskeleton solution in the UKWA pavilion. The wearable technology provides manual

While automation is growing in popularity, most of

handling workers with the physical support needed to lift

the technologies use a significant amount of power –

an additional 30kg – and has been proven to significantly

something that Tony Gresty, Managing Director of ASG

lower the risk of back injuries.

Energy Services, covered in his discussion about how to reduce the carbon footprint of your warehouse. He

Kevin Mofid, Head of Logistics and Industrial Research at

identified key areas to target, including choosing LED

Savills, gave a talk on how to secure warehouse property

lighting, bi-directional EV chargers and alternative energy

in the current market. He said that even though we are

sources.

in a period of economic uncertainty take-up of industrial property is at unprecedented levels. A record 55m sq ft

Even more visitors attended the conference sessions on

of space was signed last year – obliterating the previous

day two. Intelligent Energy opened the day with a panel

figure by 28m sq ft.


IMHX 2022 REVIEW

Setting the pace Harry Watts, Managing Director of SEC Group, looks back on a hugely successful IMHX 2022 where sustainability was high on the agenda

As we look back on a hugely successful IMHX 2022 where

Sustainability Zone feature to one ground-breaking

we delivered the inaugural Sustainability Zone feature, we

initiative that had clear resonance with a winning topic

reflect on many interesting topics of discussion that took

on the Sustainability Zone, was renewable energy.

place with a wide range of visitors to the stand. One clear

The UK Warehouse Association (UKWA) launched its

message emerged across all industry sectors; the need to

‘Walking on Sunshine’ focus following an independently

increase the pace of change in adopting sustainable and

commissioned UKWA report: ‘Investment Case for Solar

energy efficient practices was far higher up the business

Power in Warehousing and Logistics’. At the show, a

agenda than the last time we met at IMHX in 2019.

panel of experts took part in a discussion based on the report’s findings to address the importance of challenging

From sustainable construction methods to increased

government to provide the means and support for UK

efficiency in operational processes, even down to electric

warehouse operations to capitalise on what is, staring us

vehicles used for last mile logistics, there are many

in the face.

themes effecting sustainability across the logistics supply chain. But, if the pace of change needs to increase, who is

According to the report, the UK warehouse sector is

driving the agenda for a comprehensive shift in focus on

the obvious solutions to UK energy resilience that is

sustainable technology and process?

actionable right now. UK warehousing has the roof space for up to 15GW of new solar power, which could double

Are brand owners and consumers driving the pace of

the UK’s solar capacity and reduce carbon emissions

change and is the supply chain contributing enough

by 2 million tonnes/year. This would cut warehousing

without the downward pressure from the end user?

electricity costs from between 40-80% and save the

For warehouse and distribution centre operators,

warehousing sector £3bn/year. Furthermore, by providing

acknowledging the financial and operational benefits that

a more secure power supply, it would enable the sector to

adopting a sustainable approach can offer, and driving

become a net producer of renewable electricity.

those benefits through their own processes and supply chains is essential to increase momentum. The tech and

The report also outlined the key benefits for property

eco-savvy consumer of today, is far more knowledgeable

builders and landlords across:

and better placed to make buying decisions based on the sustainability agenda and is willing to delve in the

Return on investment - rooftop solar PV is a good

provenance of a product and the sustainability credentials

investment opportunity in its own right, providing

of the supplier, before hitting the all-important ‘purchase’

an internal rate of return of 10-15%* on self-financed

button, but perhaps not at the expense of customer

projects.

service or longer delivery lead times. Asset value and desirability - solar PV systems have From the opening day and introduction of the

lifetime of 25 years adding to the total warehouse asset


IMHX 2022 REVIEW

value. Increased ESG (Environment, Sustainability and

doing the best they can, quickly enough to drive change?

Governance) interest by institutional investors is leading to CO2 emission-based investment criteria. Lower energy

Shifting the focus from the outside, in, warehouse

costs are more attractive, increasing occupancy rate.

operations can also benefit from internal processes that allow them to achieve sustainability targets. Across the

Regulatory compliance and investor attractiveness - by

Sustainability Zone we showcased a variety of both

2030, non-domestic minimum expected energy standards

physical and digital technology innovations that were

(MEES) is planned to be EPC B, with EPC C rating required

available to warehouse operators now, to help tackle the

by 2027. Solar PV can help meet this obligation while

sustainability agenda.

providing good financial return. One in particular that caught the eye of visitors was our This forms a comprehensive argument for the widespread

Virtual Reality experience. Here we demonstrated the

adoption and installation of solar PV as a cost effective

use 3D Virtual Reality as a way of allowing customers to

and relatively straightforward way for the UK Warehousing

immerse themselves in a bespoke version of their own

industry to embrace solar power as a sustainable and

warehouse, based on an in-depth data analysis of their

cost-effective channel to harness the benefits of this type

own operational data. Taking this data, we use our own

of renewable energy.

in-house Artificial Intelligent software tool know as DIDO (Data In Design Out), to analyse thousands of warehouse

Furthermore, the need to meet the changing

storage layout options, incorporating automation where

requirements for MEES compliance is a very real national

required, to deliver the optimal solution, every time.

issue and not one to be ignored. According to an SHD

The link between evidence-based design driving 3D,

article, “…analysis shows that one in three UK warehouses

VR enabled digital twins, became clear for developing

will be unlettable by April 2027, without an intervention

interlinked design models that wring out every available

in the next five years to comply with minimum energy

ounce of operational efficiency for operators. A

efficiency standards coming into force in April 2027.

sustainable, operational model can be tested alongside clear assessments of ROI before any frame or beam is

“From its dataset of over 13,300 units between 500 sq

constructed.

ft and 50,000 sq ft in size, around 2% of the market in London and the South East, and 5% of the market in the

Across warehouse operations, from adopting digital

regions have EPCs of F or G, and will therefore fall below

technology and optimising storage capacity through

the required standard by April 2023.”

to the installation of solar PV panels on your roof, the sustainability agenda is a very real part of every business,

These statistics highlight a very real issue to the energy

providing a competitive advantage to those who embrace

efficiency challenges facing our current facilities and

these ideas. As the logistics industry pulls in technology

one that needs to be addressed to provide the industry

innovation to achieve a more sustainable future, and

with much needed new warehouse and distribution

consumers push for change, it could just be a win-win

centre stock in the coming years, to achieve carbon

situation, but are we moving quickly enough?

emission reduction as well as provide a home-grown solution to the energy crisis brought on by the spiralling global cost for gas and electricity. Not surprisingly the renewable energy Augmented Reality resources found in the Sustainability Zone were amongst the most popular scanned over the three days. Regardless of ownership profile, are warehouse and distribution centre operators

www.sec-group.co.uk


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

Talking about a revolution Andrei Danescu CEO and founder of BotsAndUs, a London-based technology manufacturer and creator of robotic systems, believes that real-time data and digital twins are set to revolutionise the supply chain industry With greater demand from the end consumer for deliveries when they want them, stock availability, whether in-store or online, is key to the success of any company. To ensure stock is in the right place, at the right time, supply chains are now having to adapt and be more innovative to support businesses. The more efficient and productive the supply chain is, the more profitable and influential a company will be, providing increased brand reputation. Real-time data, technology and AI are the key to unlocking the potential for greater visibility across the supply chain. Inventory management in logistics and warehousing is gradually becoming more technology-driven. The next stage is to use real-time data to reduce costs, time, inaccuracies and improve productivity, efficiency and revenues. It is widely reported that up to €1M (£876K) is lost each year per warehouse due to misplaced or damaged items, as well as up to 6,000 hours wasted on measuring and tracking goods manually. Autonomous label scanning, for example, can save up to 40 hours per operator every week. Moreover, 11 per cent of goods have some level of case damage on warehouse arrival. Technology is increasingly replacing the tedious, repetitive manual processes to allow colleagues to focus on more complex activities where they can drive the most value. BotsAndUs, a London-based technology manufacturer and creator of robotic systems, believes that real-time data will revolutionise the supply chain industry. Their platform uses fully autonomous robots to measure, track and find goods across warehouses without workflow disruption. This platform harnesses data to create dynamic digital twins, designed exclusively to fully automate receiving and stock taking processes.

This technology allows companies to unlock the power of accurate real-time data to make better informed business decisions about their operations - judging by what is actually, physically, happening on sites and correcting the errors of digital systems. Data is the new fuel for business efficiency in the current commercial context. Using the BotsAndUs system, the inventory is autonomously entered, stored and recorded in and out of warehouses, reducing labour-intensive tasks such as cycle counting, stock taking, data entry and inputs. The digital twin concept has been around for over 20 years, but IoT (Internet of Things) technology has made it more intelligent and in real-time nowadays. A twin is a computer simulation of a physical entity, such as the inside of a warehouse. It is more commonly known to be used by architects when designing and creating a warehouse. The simulation also allows for design scenario planning to evaluate its real viability. Today, digital twins don’t just reflect how sites were designed originally, but can provide a picture of how it’s actually operating at any point in time. Digital twins can consist of many different concepts; either the traditional 3D drawing and model, 2D drawing or an advanced data dashboard, an image of a digital product, whether an existing product or what it will be in the future. Of course, to maintain an up-to-date digital reflection of a complex process or product, a continuous stream of rich data is required. The more real-time data available, the more accurate the technology can be, allowing operational teams to detect issues ahead of time, reducing loss of goods and improving efficiencies and profits. The BotsAndUs platform is powered by the company’s


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

proprietary state-of-the-art machine vision technology. It is capable of measuring and scanning parcels, pallets and products as they pass through the warehouse or retail facilities. The tech stack uses advanced machine learning vision techniques to identify and scan barcodes and custom application-specific markers where required. Autonomous robots navigate dynamic environments quickly and efficiently by leveraging predictive algorithms and control models as well as machine learning techniques like image segmentation and classification. They understand the intentions of humans and highspeed vehicles like forklifts, inferring predictions of their paths in real-time. This allows them to cover every single area of the warehouse without obstructing normal operations. Seamless backend integration with warehouse management systems is essential for providing timely and valuable data. BotsAndus offers a system that collects real-time information from the robot fleet and dispatches it directly to the client’s IT systems. The process allows collected data to be used downstream within seconds of being received by the platform. Oana Jinga, Co-founder and CCO of BotsAndUs, explains the numerous advantages of the AI autonomous robots and the digital twin system: “We have built the ultimate AI platform that gives companies unprecedented, realtime access to their operations. BotsAndUs is enhancing people’s working lives through robotics and permanently delivering knowledge in real-time. Our digital twin technology is the only platform powered by autonomous robots which provide real-time data and insights. By closing the physical to digital loop, companies can benefit from real-time data in various ways. It improves productivity, efficiency and revenues, significantly reducing costs, time, inaccuracy and safety risks associated with manual stock-taking and acceptance. The system collects accurate data on parcels, pallets and products from receiving, going through the warehouse storage and then dispatch. This allows for better inventory control and condition receiving, reporting, reducing misplacements and guaranteeing the right stock is always available. The intelligent platform provides instant and precise data on the items’ condition, volume, dimensions and shelf location. Furthermore, it integrates with the existing warehouse management system, avoiding complex infrastructure changes.

Companies can constantly realign data between planning and real-time operations by harnessing a constant flow of data from all the links in a warehouse or distribution centre. This enables them to perform more robust quality control and resolve issues rapidly. Resilient supply chains require technology that cohesively integrates all the required information and a modern real-time operations platform. Essential to know is such a system does not require large-scale IT investment. BotsAndUs provides total flexibility with a RaaS (Robotas-a-Service) business model. It provides customers with a full-stack solution that includes hardware units, software updates, maintenance and support, data and analytics for a monthly subscription fee per robot unit deployed, enabling scalability of their fleet to match peak and low season requirements. One of the world’s leading logistics and supply chain management experts, Professor Richard Wilding OBE, believes that to achieve a resilient, risk-free supply chain and avoid vulnerabilities, businesses need to focus on building the ‘Temple of Supply Chain’ resilience.* The top of the temple needs a roof of supply chain transparency ensuring high levels of transparency across the product flows and network. Continuous monitoring and intelligence are key to keeping the roof on the temple. In other words, ensuring that employees, suppliers and customers have ways of keeping stakeholders informed of issues means a company can be more responsive than its competitors to stay ahead and secure the resources for an operational supply chain. The BotsAndUs platform is uniquely the only provider of vital inventory management processes that can be part of the roof of supply chain transparency. *DSV, 2020; *Packaging Digest, 2019; *case study/VisionN Systems Design, 2021 *https://www.richardwilding.info/building-a-resilientrisk-free-supply-chain.html *https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/ articles/3773_Expecting-digital-twins/DI_ Expectingdigital-twins.pdf


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

Bonnie Cliff sits down with Staffan Persson, Co-founder of SiB Solutions, to discuss how prioritising supply chain visibility can improve efficiency and greatly reduce the number of false claims filed to your warehouse

Stopping the supply chain blame game Bonnie Cliff (BC): What is SiB Solutions and what does it do?

does it mean and how can SiB Solutions help to avoid it?

Staffan Persson (SP): We enable flawless logistics within the supply chain, starting with warehouses and hubs. We do that by combining video and warehouse data and making that searchable, like your own search engine. We use AI to prevent errors in real time too.

SP: Think about how many parts there are in a supply chain. You have production, transport, warehouses, other transport hubs, last mile, and, in the end, the customer. All of them can make mistakes in the logistics process – everyone does it!

Say you’re a logistics manager or a customer service agent and want to know about something within your supply chain or your warehouse, like what happened with an order or a pallet causing a claim or other kind of deviation. You enter that reference number, you press enter and then our service displays the video clips from the goods handling.

Let’s say a customer subscribes to our service and uses it in their warehouse. They can then easily see their own goods handling and check if the supplier is sending the right stuff. They can determine whether they, as well as the supplier, have packed it correctly, picked it right, gotten the correct number of items and so on.

We call it a ‘time machine’ because you can always travel back in time to see the root cause of what happened. And on top of that, with AI and other cutting-edge technologies, you can also look into the video material and determine whether the goods handling is right or wrong. It is a real-time smart assistant that helps the operator to make less mistakes or at least to know the causes of mistakes. BC: The supply chain ‘blame game’ is a term frequently used at the moment. What exactly

As for the ‘blame game’, it’s then game over. If the warehouse receives a claim, the facts are there: you can always address the cost to the responsible part of the supply chain. You can also invite suppliers and transport companies for a dialogue about how to do this better in the future together instead of blaming them. BC: Why does technology inside the warehouse form such an important part of the wider supply chain? SP: Statistics from the customer side show that


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S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

between 20 to 40% of all claims that are filed to the warehouse are false. This means that the warehouse has done the right thing, but someone else has gotten it wrong.

it’s sixty per cent fill rate, so something is wrong here. It might be a picking error, or the wrong data set-up, so please check again. So, it’s a good way to alter the volume confirmation.

Think about the whole supply chain after goods leave the warehouse. If you can remove 20 to 40 per cent of all claims, how much less transport is that? How much packaging? How many angry customers can you actually turn into happy customers? In that way, in-warehouse technology greatly affects things further down the supply chain.

That saves space in shipments, meaning fewer trucks on the road and less emissions.

If you think about the global perspective where you have aeroplanes, trucks, and ships going around, false claims cost a lot of money and emit a lot of CO2. BC: It’s interesting that you mentioned CO2 because a lot of businesses are prioritising their sustainability agenda. How can SiB Solutions help businesses achieve those sustainability goals? SP: There are two key areas. You can say one part is simply to ship the right stuff, so you don’t need to use extra transport. The other part is using cutting-edge technologies like AI to guide you to more sustainable choices in real time. One example is to analyse the fill rate of boxes. The warehouse management system might say one thing, for example, that a box is filled, but our system can say

BC: Could you please give an example of how this technology has helped a business manage this flow of goods through its supply chain? SP: One of our customers ships the spare parts to 1,600 service centres and stores where people like you and me leave our car for a service or repair. It’s a highly automated warehouse: I think 70-80 per cent of all goods go through the automation and into the consolidation area and then it is transported to the final destination. When the customer started with our Intelligent video services, claims dropped by 40 per cent directly after two weeks because the warehouse did the right thing and was now able to prove it. They realised that they have three categories of errors: technical, human, and process. Before we worked with them, they just said ‘claims’ and didn’t have any idea that the issue was technical. After we identified this, they worked for 12 months on processing improvements, feedback to operators, training and so on. They had the video and the data we provided as the base of that work, and ultimately, they managed to decrease claims by another 25 per cent. The next step is to install our services in the manual parts of the warehouse. Their CEO was in the news at the beginning of this year saying it was the best year that the business ever had. That might be in part due to of our solution, might be other things as well, but we are proud nonetheless!

Think about how many parts there are in a supply chain. You have production, transport, warehouses, other transport hubs, last mile, and, in the end, the customer. All of them can make mistakes in the logistics process – everyone does it!



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Leading contract packers in the market run their shop floor operations using the latest software that is purposebuilt for the complexities of contract packing operations. Nulogy’s purpose-built software optimises your shop floor by enabling you to: • Manage and optimise labour capacity • Automate scheduling and planning • Standardise operational workflows and processes • Generate and process operational data in real time • Digitise traceability processes for stronger quality control

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MANAGING DIRECTOR, MARSDEN PACKAGING

Contact us to learn more about how Nulogy’s contract packing software can drive more efficient and profitable business.

nulogy.com | uk@nulogy.com | +44 (0)1173 134432


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

Green gains Supply chain sustainability has been creeping up the business agenda. Dave Berridge, Secretary of the Automated Material Handling Systems Association (AMHSA), looks at the role of automation in achieving environmental goals It might have been expected that companies would

telematics to minimise delivery miles, all of which can

let their supply chain sustainability objectives slide

cut fuel consumption dramatically. Inside the warehouse,

during the pandemic. However, the 2021 State of Supply

many firms naturally begin with the low-hanging fruit.

Chain Sustainability report from the MIT Centre for

Typical steps include ‘right-sized’ packaging; recycling;

Transportation & Logistics and the Council of Supply

use of skylights, solar panels and LED lighting; and roof

Chain Management Professionals showed otherwise. The

insulation. Using returnable transit packaging (RTP)

report found that most companies kept their eyes on the

secures lower energy use compared to the manufacturing

ball with regard to sustainability. An impressive 59% of

and recycling processes necessary for single- or few-trip

worldwide respondents said they had invested in supply

packaging, which is generally made from cardboard.

chain sustainability over the past year. The more recent 2022 report affirms the increasingly important role of the

The use of intralogistics automation can also have a

supply chain as a champion of corporate sustainability.

significant impact on sustainability. On the one hand,

And here in the UK, 60% of the FTSE 100 have committed

these technologies lower the head count and naturally

to net zero by 2050.

reduce the amount of energy used for lighting and heating, not to mention the carbon emissions resulting

The focus on sustainability has only been increased by

from all those journeys to and from work. On the other

recent events. The energy crisis resulting from the war in

hand, automated handling systems and software are

Ukraine has turned the spotlight back on climate change,

designed to optimise material flows, reducing the number

heightening the environmental demands of consumers,

and distance of transport tasks and thereby minimising

investors and end users. There is certainly scope for

energy consumption.

greater energy efficiency in business, particularly in the supply chain. A survey by AMHSA member, Interroll Group

With the warehouse automation market growing

in March of this year asked what percentage of energy

alongside global e-commerce sales – the compound

currently used could be saved in the area of material flow

annual growth rate (CAGR) of the industry is expected to

through planned or future energy efficiency measures.

exceed 10% over the next 8 years – it will only become

Almost three-quarters of respondents across Europe

more important that sustainability is at the core of

estimated a figure over 10%, with almost a quarter saying

material handling automation. According to Acumen

over 30%.

Research, the global warehouse automation market was worth approximately $20 billion in 2021 and will rise to

Opportunities for sustainability can be divided into

over $60 billion by 2030.

those at the warehouse and those beyond it. When it comes to reducing carbon footprint, actions beyond the

Specifying energy-efficient handling equipment can have

warehouse are better known and understood – such

a huge impact on carbon footprint, and this is something

as alternative fuels, software to optimise the loading

that AMHSA members are championing, in response

and drop sequences of delivery vehicles and fleet

to customer demand. In the Interroll survey, 81% of


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

respondents said that high energy efficiency was either

In terms of the legal framework, there is scope for

‘crucial’ or ‘very important’ when using new equipment in

innovation. In the Netherlands, for example, new-build

their material flow. With the rise in availability of scalable

distribution centres must be self-supporting in terms

automation and robotic solutions in today’s market

of energy to receive planning permission. By next

– along with more creative financing options – even

year in the UK, under proposed Treasury rules, large

small and medium-sized enterprises are able to reap the

companies will be required to detail how they intend to

rewards of intralogistics automation and the associated

hit climate change targets. Recently, the United Kingdom

environmental gains.

Warehousing Association has been drawing attention to an independent report that shows the huge potential

A conveyor system, for example, only needs to run when

benefits of installing solar photovoltaic systems on the

there is a load in transit and only the specific section

roofs of the UK’s warehouses and UKWA is urging the

where the load is located needs to be live. The technology

government to act on it. With the warehousing sector

to achieve this can also be retrofitted to a system.

accounting for around a third of all commercial roof

Software can ensure that handling tasks are accumulated

space, adding solar panels has the potential to double

for release in efficient batches. Simply reducing friction

the UK’s solar capacity and reduce carbon emissions by

– through the use of advanced bearings and drives – can

2 million tonnes per year. This could enhance energy

cut energy consumption, as can reducing the weight of

security without compromising land that could otherwise

mobile parts and the use of energy-recovery technology.

be used for farming. That’s quite literally food for thought!

Handling techniques can also augment energy efficiency.

As the UK’s leading authority on automated material

Dynamic slotting, for example, allocates loads to locations

handling with over 60 members, AMHSA seeks to

within the store according to their mass and order

accelerate the adoption of world-class intralogistics

frequency, resulting in reductions in energy use. Dynamic

automation across the UK supply chain.

storage systems based on gravity lanes can also achieve

www.amhsa.co.uk,.

energy savings, while the increased accuracy achieved through automated order fulfilment secures additional environmental benefits in terms of lower returns. The topic of returns brings us to the importance of the social and legal framework that supply chains operate in. Both consumers and retailers need to consider the damaging impact of returns on the environment. Recent moves by some brands show that the trend is for the ecommerce industry to bring the era of free returns to an end. HR strategy has a role to play; many believe that a key factor for success in implementing sustainable business practices is to add environmental performance metrics to annual reviews for all employees. The challenge here is the general lack of key performance indicators to track progress on sustainability, without which firms struggle to align remuneration with environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets.



S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

Avoiding the transformation traps John Mart, Vice President, Software, Americas, Dematic, considers some of the common pitfalls – and how to avoid them - when tackling digital transformation for your supply chain Enterprise logistics are under more pressure than ever — the labour crunch, fierce competition, next day (even next hour) delivery all challenging supply chain efficiency and resiliency. Companies are expected to ship the goods on time without fail, requiring them to have a firm grasp on what’s happening inside their facilities at every moment. As a result, companies are looking for digital transformation initiatives to solve their supply chain challenges by using the latest technologies to reduce unplanned downtime, improve throughput and productivity, and increase visibility into day-to-day operations. No technology or process change alone can be expected to solve these challenges. But combining technologies under the broad term “digital” is proving to deliver positive results. Still, with so many moving parts, companies must use a strategic, targeted approach to realise the benefits of digitisation. Rather than following the leader, apply digital solutions to tackle the most meaningful challenges unique to your business. As consumers demand more and faster, it’s tempting to jump right into operationalising systems to meet rapid delivery demands. However, the first step for most companies should be to perform an assessment of your facilities and operations to define desired business outcomes. The logistics space, especially for grocers and other food service providers, is crowded by competitors trying to deliver goods to consumers in record time.

Determine which areas are most critical to address for your business, then identify the right solution for your needs. For example, one company might have issues with unplanned downtime and need improvements in predictive maintenance, while another may have bottlenecks in their operations that limit their ability to ship products at certain times. Problems (and solutions) are myriad, so an initial assessment will ensure your investments are effective. In general, most distribution facilities should start by addressing one of these two areas: Modernising operational networks and IT systems to improve cybersecurity and serve as the foundation for digital investments Implementing advanced analytics to optimise operations with efficient inventory management or predictive maintenance. Once you’ve identified what you’d like to digitise, resist the urge to do everything at once. Instead, start small and broaden your focus as you achieve success. Companies typically pursue one of two pathways for digitisation: Apply digital transformation narrowly at first to address specific, high-value key performance indicators (KPIs) — like grocery pick-up and delivery time. And then apply it more broadly across prioritised aspects of operations over time.


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

With the right digital transformation approach, companies can expect to see annual productivity improvements of more than 5 per cent in inventory, lead time, data collection, quality and more

“Go big” with next-generation facilities — think of, for example, retailers, building distribution centres for online grocery ordering where they don’t otherwise have a bricks-and-mortar presence. We generally recommend starting with targeted business outcomes that are high-value and quick to implement, then focus on longer implementation opportunities as those begin to show results. Know when to lean on technology or when a problem might be better solved with a human touch. Integral components of digital transformation have been around for years — artificial intelligence, machine learning, the cloud — are just a few. What’s new is using the connectivity and intelligence of these technologies to allow smarter optimisation decisions, whether those decisions are made by humans, software or a combination of both. Many organisations tend to jump to shiny, new technologies before assessing or fully understanding internal user requirements and need for collaboration among departments, vendors, and suppliers. Understanding organisational change management and having a plan of an area is critical for successfully implementing a digitisation initiative. Avoid the trap of kaleidoscopic analytic applications that require perpetual clicking to get actionable information (if any at all). Technology must be an enabler and analytic applications

must be intelligent enough to facilitate user tasks. So first prioritise user experience requirements over technology. When you connect your Operational Technologies (OT) with your company’s Information Technology (IT) and network infrastructure, you begin to connect the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) dots in your facility and facilitate a more comprehensive view of operations and maintenance — a view that drives results. The advent of Industry 4.0 technological advancements (big data, the cloud, IIoT, digital sensors, etc), makes connecting the right data with the right intelligence easier than ever before. While consumer demands are certainly a leading source of pressure points, food shortages and even recalls cause their own disruptions. These disruptions present yet another case for moving toward digitised logistics in a planned, purposeful way. Whether you are relying on traceability to track a tainted product or real-time inventory data to move product to where it’s most needed, the key to transformation is thoughtfully considering the solutions that have the biggest impact on your business. With the right digital transformation approach, companies can expect to see annual productivity improvements of more than 5 per cent in inventory, lead time, data collection, quality, and more. www.dematic.com


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The returns data goldmine Far from being a problem, do returns conceal a golden opportunity? Neil Adcock, Managing Director at Bis Henderson Consulting, reveals how to unlock the value hidden in returns data The news that Zara is to introduce a modest charge for returns may be the ‘permission’ other retailers need to reconsider their whole approach to returns. It may be hard to believe, but until recently most retailers only allowed returns if there was some fault with the product. Partly in recognition that online customers can’t try on clothes many e-retailers started to offer more flexible returns. In today’s competitive market this has spiralled into many customers now enjoying the convenience of unlimited returns. Unfortunately, returns have grown significantly and not just in the fashion sector. But far from being a problem, there may be a hidden, golden opportunity. In the US last year, 20.8% of goods bought online were returned – that is across all categories, with figures above 30% cited for clothing. And expectations around returns have infected the physical market: the rate of returns across all channels increased from 10.6% to 16.6% between 2020 and 2021. The challenge of handling returns is only likely to grow, as are the costs. Estimates vary, but a typical finding is that returns are costing retailers 21% of order value. If the return results in an exchange that may just about be supportable – if, as is often the case, it results in ‘no sale’ and a refund, then that is a serious impact to the bottom line. The standard advice is to accelerate the returns process, both to get cash back into the customers’ pocket so they can spend it again, and to ensure that returned items are made quickly available for resale – but how, without even

greater cost? To determine the appropriate returns strategy retailers need to understand what is going on and tapping into returns data may unlock some important insights. The necessary data can only come from the consumer, but returns data is often scant, manual, and unreliable. Retailers could be missing out on a goldmine of useful insights. Good data and sound observations can inform the best route for processing items, providing valuable feedback about the product and also about the customer’s preferences, the ways they shop and what they value. Such insights may hold the key as to how they may be influenced. Capturing that data is the first hurdle. Interactive returns portals and good RMA (Returns Merchandise Authorisation) systems would be an obvious starting point. Yet strangely, a recent survey by retail systems specialist Brightpearl found that 69% of retailers are not using tech solutions to automate and process returns. Even if they are, do retailers ask the right questions? A review of current reason codes, encouraging free text and investing in reading what comes back could be eye opening? All too often the return form has a very restrictive list of leading questions, and this may result in a customer



S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

worrying about their return being approved. So selecting the reason that is least incriminating they will tick ‘fits differently than expected’ rather than genuine reasons like ‘selected multiple sizes to determine best fit’.

significant facility or warehousing costs. Different types of products and their sales and returns channel will attract different processes and costs. Plus consideration needs to be given to minimising any environmental impacts.

Encouraging more detail is key. When a clothing product is cited as too big, where is it too big – all over, the sleeves, the neckline? Or is it really that the shape and style is wrong for that customer, hence it appears too big. Understanding the true reasons for an item being returned is invaluable, informing product design, website description, and may highlight ways of influencing customers’ product choices. Additionally, retailers regularly only allow for a single return reason, even though the customer could be returning multiple items, or have several points of dissatisfaction.

Getting the customer to provide more details for a return, for example the nature of any damage, can help reduce some of those in-house costs and reduce the processing time.

Even the best-run retailer will have some returns. A selfservice portal can make life easier for the customer and provide the business with an opportunity to manage costs in a way that could offer real benefits to the business – particularly if that business fully understands its coststo-serve. The cost of processing returns may include: •

A carrier or fleet cost – to return the item(s) from the customer or a local hub to a processing location – which may or may not be the retailer’s own distribution centre. There may be ‘first mile’, consolidation, and trunking elements. If the commerce is cross-border there may be additional complications involving Customs, VAT etc, all of which raise costs.

An admin cost – to both understand the return reason(s) and to initiate a refund

Assessment costs to ascertain condition. That might be a simple visual inspection, but it could require electrical testing, for example.

A processing cost – to make the item re-saleable, such as steam cleaning or re-boxing

Disposal costs for packaging that can’t be re-used

A restocking cost – to get the item back in to stock both systemically and physically

Attached to many of these activities may be some fairly

A smart algorithm can determine whether the item being returned should be expedited, to maximise resale value, via the quickest return route (often at higher cost) or whether the item can be returned via the most cost-efficient route. Some companies go as far as offering a customer a discount to keep the item, or asking them to donate it to charity instead of incurring the cost of processing the return. Other factors around returning stock include environmental and brand considerations, such as responsible disposal for damaged goods, and exit routes for now out of season or surplus items. Conventional product reviews are often written well after purchase by very happy or unhappy customers. The data gathered during the returns process can offer as much, if not more, insight into the product itself. This can help retailers understand trends in SKUs, issues with quality, fit, price or just where the digital presentation does not match the reality of an item. Capturing intelligence in a timely way may allow faster in-season decisions around website descriptions, product promotion or markdown cycle. Fashion returns rates are driven largely by product sizing. Seeking the right feedback from the returns process can help to prevent further returns, for example, altering how a product is presented digitally. Such intelligence can also inform future product design. behaviour. What gets returned is a story of how a customer buys, when they buy, how they prefer to interact and provide feed Zara has let the genie out of this bottle, and the policies and strategies retailers adopt around returns may prove critical. The first step is to truly understand the cost of returns to your business, then ask yourself if you have a handle on your returns data – are you really extracting all the value it can genuinely provide for the product, sales and supply chain functions?


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Locus Robotics pass one billion picks milestone “Reaching our One Billion pick milestone underscores the critical business value that Locus’s proven technology brings to our customers around the world, every day,” said Rick Faulk, CEO, Locus Robotics. “The need for cost-efficient robotics automation is a must-have as e-commerce volumes continue to increase and the labour shortages persist. Locus is proud to help our customers efficiently meet this challenge with robust, enterprisescale automation solutions that position them for success today and in the future.” It took Locus 1,542 days to pick its first 100 million units and just 59 days for the last 100 million picks. LocusBots have travelled more than 17 million miles in customers’ warehouses, the equivalent of more than 670 times around the Earth or 35 round trips to the Moon. The Locus Solution has been deployed at more than 200 sites around the world, with as many as 500 LocusBots per site. Locus deployments include large-scale greenfield and brownfield sites, and multi-level mezzanine installations. The billionth pick was made at a major home improvement retailer’s warehouse in Florida, and the item picked was a cordless rotary tool kit. The milestone pick was made just milliseconds ahead of two other picks: a scented candle from a homeware warehouse in Ohio, and a running jacket from a major global fitness and shoe brand in Pennsylvania. The rapid succession of the three picks underscores the high order processing volume taking place at Locus-deployed locations around the world.

“This latest milestone demonstrates both the incredible growth that Locus Robotics and the AMR industry have achieved, and also proves the feasibility of retailers and logistics companies’ relying on robotic picking technology” said Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis. “One billion picks is an incredible milestone and is testament to Locus Robotics’ innovation and vision over the past few years.” In the UK and Europe, the landmark is the latest in a significant list of achievements during 2022. In August, the company announced a new expansion agreement to deploy a total of 1,000 LocusBots at GEODIS’ worldwide warehouse locations, including the UK, over the next 24 months. The deployment agreement represents one of the industry’s largest AMR deals to date. The deal followed the successful bid by Locus to secure one of the most prestigious titles in the European material handling industry, an IFOY award, which was presented in the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV/AMR) category. The award followed a string of other titles in North America, including being named in the influential Inc. 5000 for the second successive year.

The need for costefficient robotics automation is a must-have as e-commerce volumes continue to increase and the labour shortages persist

Locus Robotics a leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfilment warehouses, has announced it has surpassed the One Billion units picked milestone. This new achievement was attained just 59 days after Locus registered 900 million units picked.


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Faster fashion fulfilment Challenged by poor labour availability, how will fashion fulfilment cope with a return of footfall to the high street and growing omni-channel sales? Darcy de Thierry, Managing Director of Ferag UK, believes advanced pouch sorter technology holds the answer

Successful fashion retailing is all about maximising

picking operations, many retail fashion businesses

margin, growing sales volume and getting faster

are turning to the use of automation to boost the

throughput. But for the last two years, omni-channel

productivity of their labour force. Automation applied

businesses have, by necessity, had to rely on their

to the right processes can free up people for tasks

ecommerce channels for survival. The strain on fulfilment

that require human ingenuity, judgement and manual

centres has been enormous, particularly as ‘single’ and

dexterity – tasks such as packing and inspecting returns.

‘few’ item picking and packing operations are traditionally highly labour intensive activities – and labour has become

An innovative technology helping to transform

a scarce and costly resource, leading to concerns over

operational performance in the fulfilment centre,

performance during critical peak periods.

freeing-up human resources for value-adding activities, is the pouch sorter. Overhead pouch sortation systems

Now that consumers are returning to the high street, how

offer a flexible and highly scalable, conveying, sorting

can businesses re-balance their fulfilment operations

and dynamic buffering solution appropriate for both

to cope with growth and higher throughput across all

fulfilling ecommerce orders and assembling store friendly

channels, and at the same time contain costs to

sequenced replenishment. One pouch system is capable

maximise margins?

of sorting and processing many thousands of orders an hour, with each pouch able to carry both hanging

In addition to the challenges of finding labour, the National Living Wage rose from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour in April 2022, coinciding with

garments and flat items, such as shoes and flat pack goods, enabling fast order fulfilment from a single pool of inventory.

a hike in National Insurance of 1.25p in the pound for both employers and employees.

Creating a single pool of inventory from which store replenishment and ecommerce orders

With operational costs rising and fewer

are served offers significant financial and

people available to carry out manual

operational benefits. Efficiencies in accessing


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S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

One pouch system is capable of sorting and processing many thousands of orders an hour

An obvious advantage of a high-speed pouch solution is that it uses available overhead space – the third dimension of the building – keeping floor areas free for pedestrians and other processes. What’s more, pouch systems are a highly cost-effective alternative to other forms of goodsto-person automation, like multi-shuttle and mini-load solutions, that can cost up to 30% more. Then there is the core benefit that overhead pouch systems undertake high-speed sorting, conveying and buffering processes too, which allows for tremendous flexibility and scalability. And as the pouch has the ability to carry flat items, such

available stock, greater flexibility in allocating stock to

as shoes, and flat pack goods along with hanging items,

maximise sales and faster processing times for preparing

there is no need to have a separate cross-belt sorter for flat

orders, are just some of the key advantages.

items, with all the issues associated with bringing flat and hanging items together.

In particular, pouch technology lends itself to ecommerce operations, allowing for greater wave picking efficiency,

A number of leading fashion brands are taking advantage

with late order cut-offs of around 10pm for a promise

of pouch sorter technology to increase capacity and boost

of delivery to the customer first-thing the next day.

performance of their fulfilment operations. Ferag has

The speed and reliability of Skyfall, Ferag’s ultra-fast

recently installed a flexible high-speed Skyfall system at

automated pouch sorter solution, enables the retailer

a new distribution centre for children’s fashion company,

to gain greater operational efficiencies by accumulating

Mayoral Group, in Malaga, Spain. The extensive overhead

orders in advance of a final pick-wave at 10pm. With

pouch solution is one of the largest to date, with a mix of

processing speeds of up to 25,000 units per hour orders

hanging pouches and garment hangers totalling more

can be picked, sorted, packed and dispatched within the

than 58,000 Skyfall hangers, and a throughput of up to

shortest time window, giving fashion brands the keen

12,000 units per hour. The system features fully automatic

competitive edge of a late cut-off with an early next day

unloading of pouches, including flat goods.

delivery. Ferag has developed an advanced automated induction For consumers fast, reliable fulfilment and delivery is

process where pouches automatically open at an induction

often a decisive factor when purchasing a fashion item

station, the operator scans a product, passes it down a

and a positive experience is likely to result in repeat sales

chute and it drops into the awaiting pouch. The process is

and recommendations on social media. However, a late

fast and efficient.

delivery of a party dress has the potential to cause great distress and may lead to negative reviews, with the loss

Similarly, Ferag has also introduced auto-unloading

of future sales, so a reliable fulfilment process is essential.

technology with three levels of performance depending

Of course, pick accuracy is important too, as a mispicked

upon product characteristics and gentle handling

item is likely to be disappointing for the customer, as well

requirements. Contingent on the items, between 1500 and

as costly to the business. However, automation enables

2200 orders per hour can be automatically unloaded from

exceptionally high pick accuracy.

pouches at packing stations. Driving performance, the rate


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S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

at which orders are presented at the packing station can determine the pace of packing. Interestingly, when comparing traditional goodsto-person operations, where you may have six to twelve open orders at the packing station, with a pouch system there can be a hundred or more open orders, simply by keeping them in a dynamic buffer near to the packing station. Items can quickly be called from the buffer as required, providing greater flexibility and speed. When it comes to the fast processing of returns, overhead dynamic buffers can offer a cuttingedge solution to removing the time, cost and effort of placing returned items back into stock. Manually sorting and placing items back into stock is a very time consuming and costly process, but now it can be avoided. For highdemand fashion products, keeping returned items in a buffer close to the packing area enables a quick and efficient re-despatch of the

Easy adoption A host of emerging technologies are available to allow warehouse operators to increase productivity Padraig Regan, Chief Product Officer, StayLinked With a labour shortage making it difficult to find and retain staff, warehouse operators facing the need to drive-up productivity should consider adopting appropriate new and emerging technologies. And now it is possible to introduce tech such as wearable devices and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) without the need for complex – and costly - integration with existing warehouse management systems (WMS).

item. In fact, some retailers anticipate and predict levels of returns, allowing them to re-sell items even before they are returned to the warehouse. Such techniques help boost sales and increase margins. Of course, reliability is absolutely critical for any automated system. Failure to perform at peak or during critical promotional periods can result in unfulfilled SLAs and dissatisfied customers, which in turn may damage both sales and, importantly, brand. Businesses looking to invest in overhead pouch sortation systems should look very carefully at the quality of the engineering, materials and components used. Only ultra-low friction components should be considered and plastic chains should be avoided. Good design and sound engineering bring long-lasting rewards.

Take for example AMRs. Think how many repetitive material movement tasks could be automated (walking completed orders from picking to the packing area, driving pallets from inbound to put away, dunnage/trash collections), freeing up workers to focus on higher value tasks. But warehouse operators are missing out on benefiting from these technologies because of the perceived view that deploying them requires expensive, risky and complex integration with backend systems, resulting in potential massive disruption. This perception is unfounded. Today’s software platforms, such as StayLinked’s Evolve, are specifically designed to enable the seamless adoption of new technologies in

ways that, historically, were just not possible. Warehouse operators can immediately begin to deploy new technology to augment their existing workflows. Even if operations are powered by legacy terminal emulation (TE) software it is still possible to update operations and radically improve efficiency. The right software platform allows the backend system to seamlessly ‘talk’ to new technology/ technologies without complicated integration, scripting, or coding. With the right software platform, and implementation partner, it is possible to quickly and easily run pilot projects to determine if the new technology is delivering expected operational efficiencies before full deployment therefore de-risking investment. Embracing new technologies allows warehouse operators to do a lot more than they could ever imagine with their existing backend system and workflows and, importantly their existing workforce. Now is the time for warehouse operators to start looking for opportunities to deploy new technologies which augment existing workflows, improve overall efficiencies and supercharge existing operations!


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

The big five AMR questions Frazer Watson, VP-Sales UK/Ireland at AMR designer and manufacturer iFollow, runs through the key questions customers need to ask when considering an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) solution Interest in Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) is escalating

AMRs, are in prime position on the flexibility spectrum. This

at a rapid pace. The classic combination of camera and

means they can contribute to future-proofing warehouse

QR-code navigation robots is proliferating in logistics

operations, while improving operations.

environments across the UK for applications in goods receiving, despatch and order picking. This is down to

Many will still perceive mobile robots as leading edge

falling costs for the technology allied to a growing list of

technology and are only now considering an AMR solution

good reasons to make that investment – reasons such as:

for the first time. In so doing there are five key questions

changing workforce demographics, constraints on supply

they should be asking:

and movement of goods, supply chain disruption, a covidgenerated upswing in online retail, increasing interest in

1. What can the AMR carry?

industry 4.0 technologies and the ever continuing drive to

This consideration comes in two parts, with load capacity

improve productivity.

generally being the initial one. For many AMRs, this can be a constraint but those able to carry loads up to 1.5

In a world where uncertainty is becoming the everyday

tonnes will be suited to a broad range of applications in

experience, companies in all sectors must strive

warehouses and fulfilment centres. The other half of the

for improved accuracy, efficiency, productivity and

load-carrying question is what type of load-carrying unit

sustainability. The key consideration must be gaining

can the AMR handle? Most warehouses see a wide range of

competitive advantage because those that do not or leave

load-carrying units going through their doors, particularly

it too late will fall behind.

as the numbers of suppliers swells and their locations diversify. This can result in dealing with a mix of traditional

Many logistics operations are reconfiguring their

pallets, Euro pallets, roll cages, plastic containers, etc. An

warehouse networks around flexible, scaleable solutions

AMR that can handle all of these will be an incredible asset

to provide fast and reliable fulfilment closer to the growing

for warehouse versatility.

number of customers in urban centres. Scarcity of available property and restrictions for transport in these areas often

Some systems will be required to perform a specific

results in the need to rethink warehousing estate and

task, focused on a single load carrying unit. For example,

the internal fit out. They are looking at fresh thinking on

handling roll cages is a fundamental part of the grocery

how these facilities are best served by materials handling

retail intralogistics operation. The ability for a mobile robot

equipment. Automated materials handling solutions

to transport roll cages safely and securely ticks this sector’s

without the need for dedicated infrastructure, such as

box; furthermore, a single AMR that can handle two roll


S U P P LY C H A I N T E C H N O LO G Y

cages at once to a total load of 1,300 kg will be even more

people from vehicle traffic to avoid the risk of collisions.

appealing. Given the height of roll cages, a low height profile, such as the 17cm height of iFollow’s AMRs, will

4. Will I be able to rely on mobile robots?

assist in smooth travel through entrances. A low height also

Warehouse operations are generally rigorous with

allows a device to fit under any surface or load carrying

repetitive transportation of heavy loads across rough

unit.

floors, over long shifts. Clearly this suggests paying careful consideration to the quality of the robot itself. What is

2. In what circumstances will the AMRs operate?

it made from? How well is it made? The broad range of

Warehouses might seem fairly similar but an AMR

AMR suppliers promoting mobile robots for warehouse

navigating its way round the building will have a different

applications will be offering systems with varying degrees

perspective. For a start, will it be too cold for the mobile

of build quality. Some are built to ensure low costs,

robot to operate – or even, in rare circumstances, too

while others are designed to provide better lifecycle cost

warm? If so, an AMR able to comfortably perform in

benefits, and will have undergone a thorough quality

temperatures from -25° C to +40°C without degradation

process.

of battery life will be required. Coldstores seeking ways to minimise their normally demanding energy use will

Compliance with local standards is fundamental: buying

particularly appreciate a mobile robot that can carry two

a fleet of mobile robots, for example, without certification

roll cages at once to move more product quickly in a cold

would be a huge risk. The ability to provide local support

area, while also ensuring that coldstore doors remain

and parts for quick response will be important.

closed for a greater proportion of a day. 5. Will I gain a solution rather than a product? Speaking of batteries, such operations will be seeking

Every business is different. A supplier that designs and

a battery life of 16 hours with opportune charging to

manufactures its own robots and uses its own software

maximise uptime. A full charge from 10% to 100% in 1.5

will be able to tailor solutions to meet the specific needs of

hours would be handy. Given the relative roughness of

individual applications. A properly conceived and designed

many warehouse floors, a robust AMR, built to withstand

AMR solution will always retain flexibility when it comes to

the rigours of constant traveling over the long-term will be

internal transportation because, unlike AGVs or conveyors,

a big benefit.

they do not require fixed infrastructure. Distribution centres often work with a combination of pallets and roll

3. Will AMRs be safe in the warehouse?

cages, the ratios of which may change over time. An AMR

AMR technology achieves a productivity advantage

that allows for a swift and simple swap of carrier frames will

without compromising operator health and safety. The

readily convert from cage transporter to pallet or trolley

route planning software prevents robots from heading

use, and vice versa.

towards fixed obstacles, such as walls or racking, as well as moveable objects such as workers, which are detected by

Intelligent mobile robots offer a flexible solution that can

the machine’s sensors. AMRs with LIDAR arrays navigate

be easily adapted to changing needs, which makes the

‘safe areas’ for forward or reverse motion – if anything

technology ideal for supporting warehouse operations

should be detected within these areas, the AMR’s motor

facing demands for ever-shorter delivery times from

will stop and the brakes are applied.

growing e-commerce channels as well as store orders.

Using AMRs to automate the transportation of goods, roll cages, pallets and other storage units between these areas in a warehouse is a highly effective method for separating


LO G I S T C S P R O P E R T Y

Sheds not shops What happens when one of the UK’s largest shopping centre owners decides it is going to build and invest in warehouses? David Thame talks to British Land about developing sheds, not shops, and why recession won’t throw them off course You probably know British Land better than you think. From Meadowhall in Sheffield to Drake’s Circus in Plymouth via a £3.9bn portfolio of retail parks, British Land has for decades dominated mass-market retail in the UK. Now, having already begun to explore the office market, British Land is turning its fire-power on warehousing. It is a smart move from a business with a history of smart moves. British Land chose to gamble of out-of-town retail parks at a time (a decade ago) when many investors thought their time was up. BL turned out to be right that consumers still liked to take the car some purchases, and the pandemic proved that spacious out-of-town locations were still more than needed. BL is entering the warehousing market relatively late in the economic cycle – many of their rivals have been in the game for several years – but they are sure to have an impact. It has already amassed a 2.8m sq ft development pipeline, worth perhaps £1.3bn, and recruited Logicor high-flyer Mike Best to head the logistics property team. As Best explained, the reason British Land is confident that it’s warehouse property will survive a recession because it has chosen to focus on urban logistics, mainly in the London and South East. Demonstrable lack of supply of smaller last mile (or last few miles) warehousing faces continuing and growing demand from 3PLs, retailers and parcels firms. It is exactly the kind of market property developers like. “The trends we are seeing in urban logistics, especially in

London and the South East, aren’t going away,” Best explains. “What British Land brings to this is the competitive advantage that we are used to intensive development of urban sites, and to diversifying property to meet new needs. So, for instance, we can reposition retail space in Thurrock to be part warehousing, part retail – or take a site on the Old Kent Road in London and do the same.” The hunt is on for sites around London which offer opportunities to intensify the amount of floorspace on site, and to create the kind of retail-meets-sheds-meets-life schemes that BL thinks it can handle best. Best prefers not to say how much they have to spend, although we can be fairly certain it is appreciably north of £100m. But he points to developments in Wembley and Sheffield, both of which total around 600,000 sq ft and are moving forward rapidly (the Sheffield scheme in September). BL will pick off opportunities where it can find them, he says. “It’s all about the opportunities,” says Best, explaining that whilst they see plenty of good bets outside London and the South East, for now their focus remains on developing in the capital. “The focus is on London, because that that is the market where we can create most value. But we have a bit British Land portfolio of retail parks, and where the property values for retail parks and urban logistics converge, then there are opportunities to reposition those assets for logistics.” Retail parks – the kind that boasts a Currys, a Next and a Home Bargains – often have ideal locations for urban logistics. With their main-road frontages and large open sites close to plenty of homes, they are almost perfect for parcels operators. “We’re waiting for the point where the values cross over,” says Best. For now that moment is in the distance: retail parks are, post-pandemic, enjoying a surge in popularity with investors, meaning their capital values are keeping pace with those of urban logistics sites. But one day soon – if inflation and recession kick in – that relationship could flip. It already has in London and the South East, and the next most likely location is around Greater Manchester. “In and around North West we are probably approaching the same kind of parity of values between retail parks and urban logistics that we have in London. But beyond that, it is not yet happening,” says Best.


LO G I S T C S P R O P E R T Y

“Manchester is definitely of interest to us, and if we found something that works for us we’d buy it – Manchester is clearly the next logistics step because it has many of the same economic characteristics in London, albeit in a less compelling way. But for now we still have plenty of opportunities to deploy capital to buy in London.” The big question hovering over the urban logistics sector is the extent to which a spiralling inflation and a looming twoyear long recession will curb consumer spending. If it does, then the volume of warehouse space needed will grow more slowly – or perhaps shrink.

as shops, they are futureproofing their property portfolio. BL’s strategy is long-term – it will take years to reach the kind of eight- to nine-figure volumes of square feet that make it a dominant player. But they have the resources – the land – and the expertise to do it. Watch this (urban logistics) space.

Portfolio stats The conversion of a central London car park into micro-

Early evidence suggests online retail is fairly resilient to economic shocks: some observers think it may even benefit as consumers shift purchasing from expensive shops to cheaper online stores. But in the U.S. there is already concern that too many warehouses may have been built – Amazon’s expansion appears to be slowing – and the same trend may soon be apparent in the UK. Best says he sees no sign of the urban logistics market cooling – yet. “The occupational market shows no signs of a slow-down, and if if there were British Land is not investing for the shortterm, but for the long-term, and the undersupply of urban logistics floorspace in London is long-term,” says Best. “We believe in the urban logistics market – even if high street retail cools, we might see more consumers shifting online. Changes in demographics also support the urban logistics market – like the number of older people, many of whom now shop online. Nothing is recession proof, but we believe in our strategy.”

warehouses for e-commerce is among the inventive urban logistics plans being nurtured by British Land. The Finsbury Square Car Park, Central London, could deliver centrally located micro units which can be used for quick commerce and food deliver as well as last mile delivery. BL are drawing up plans for a repurposing of this space covering 47,000 sq ft. The car park plan is part of a 2.8m sq ft urban logistics development pipeline with a gross development value of £1.3bn. This includes Sheffield Logistics Park with outline planning permission to deliver 604,000 sq ft of urban logistics space just off the M1next to Meadowhall shopping centre. Coming soon is 668,000 sq ft on a 12.5 acre site at Wembley, and 431,000 sq ft at Enfield. Verney Road, Southwark, and a 166,000 sq ft at the Old Kent Road in south-east London. The Thurrock Shopping Park, Essex is

One outcome of a tighter more cost-focused retail supply chain may be speed-up the two decades long march towards multi-storey warehousing. Segro are now building at Park Royal, Industrious are on the job at Barking and Dagenham, and it is an area that British Land is exploring too.

a retail park today, but could deliver 559,000 sq ft of logistics space for the east London market by repurposing two-thirds of the retail space and utilising the site topography to facilitate multi-level development.

Futureproofing is a key word for BL. By going multistorey they hope to create warehouses than can outlast today’s market and serve in tomorrows. By keeping an eye on their retail parks and carefully marking the moment when they will earn more as warehouses than

Mike Best heads the logistics property team at British Land


OUTSOURCING

Emma Verkaik, Membership & Marketing Director of the BCMPA - the Association for Contract Manufacturing, Packing, Fulfilment & Logistics, reflects on recent supply chain challenges and how BCMPA members are overcoming them

Dealing with disruption Events over the past few years have continued to place extraordinary demands on commerce, both nationally and internationally. As businesses sought - finally - to climb out from under the shadow of pandemic lockdowns and Brexit challenges, third-party outsourcing partners have been confronted with a host of new, equally unprecedented, and no less challenging roadblocks in their quest to service an ever-increasing demand for their services. The third-party co-packing, manufacturing, and logistics industry is delivering a wider and more complete array of solutions than ever before and at a speed, scale, and efficacy that has firmly embedded its services in the mindset of brands, retailers, and manufacturers alike. These strong partnerships show no signs of diminishing. Going forward, the challenges are no longer just related to the aftermath of Covid and European trading issues. Add in the complexity of a European war, labour market issues, rampant international inflation, global warehousing capacity

have seen a new set of challenges emerge, ranging from inflation to inconsistency in labour supply, to deep levels of consumer uncertainty. While these are all fundamentally interconnected, each requires tackling in a unique way.” To this point, third-party outsourcers have worked hard to find effective solutions to the issues presented by labour and raw material shortages, by extending their own work forces and capacities, researching, and establishing new supply lines and resources for their clients, and introducing innovative production methods. These enhancements have all proved invaluable and reliable contributions for the longterm continuation of supply across the sector. With the massive growth of ‘on-shoring’, the requirements for UK-based warehousing have never been stronger. Demand for space will soon outstrip supply according to research undertaken by Cushman & Wakefield for the Financial Times, and many third party outsources are embracing the simplest of solutions by increasing their own facilities. Consequently,

Emma Verkaik, Membership & Marketing Director of the BCMPA

shortages and exponential energy price rises and the robustness of supply chains are continually being tested.

the cost of renting or buying new warehousing capacity is growing exponentially.

Gavin Williams, Managing Director, GXO UK and Ireland, reports an increase in issues across the board: “This year, we

With greater capacity and stronger demand comes the need for a larger workforce and many BCMPA members


OUTSOURCING

A prime example of this commitment is demonstrated by the efforts of Clipper Logistics, whose Operations Director, Paxton Carroll has overseen a raft of initiatives to secure talent for its business; “The labour market is one of the biggest challenges at the moment. We have engaged with Sheffield Hallam University as part of our commitment to developing future leaders and talent within our supply chain. Our Clipper Apprenticeship Degree, where participants study towards a BA(Hons) in Professional Supply Chain leadership, has already seen its first cohort graduate in autumn 2021 and we currently have 60 students on the course, with a further 100 places to follow.” As brands and customers alike embrace the new e-commerce landscapes, services such as personalisation (facilitating new, niche product launches and returns infrastructures) the case for efficient, streamlined digitalisation (both internally and client-facing) is becoming increasingly compelling; Smooth running internal Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software systems manage day-today business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations. They promote profitability and accuracy, whilst embracing the wider world of personalisation for clients requires robust and agile digital systems. Further, the introduction of focused digitalisation and automation is key to addressing the ongoing labour issues. Williams and GXO are embracing this; “Given labour supply issues faced in our sector and across the board, investment in tech is more crucial than ever, particularly in terms of modular innovations like robots, co-bots, and wearables. These smaller tech units enable us to automate certain tasks, allowing our customers to be swifter and more agile.” Neil Humphrey, Sales Director at Bradford-based Mailway Packaging Solutions, sees broad advantages, both immediately and for the future: “The use of modern digitalisation of systems within our business continues apace, and this year has seen us implement fingerprint clocking-in, with further IT improvements planned to include a complete update of our ERP systems across all our sites to ensure company-wide integration as we grow.” The growing awareness of the effects of climate change is having a significant impact on the shopping decisions that consumers are making. But as Williams says: “The ‘S’ in ‘ESG’

Going forward, the challenges are no longer just related to the aftermath of Covid and European trading issues.

developing internal programmes of training and career development, to ensure both the shorter- and longer-term supply of future-proofed talent.

(Environmental, Social & Governance) is going to be a greater focus as companies understand the importance of looking after their people and making a positive contribution to the markets they operate in, both from a talent retention point of view and from a winning new business perspective. Customers are asking for increasing amounts of evidence on all aspects of ESG, and businesses like ours have a significant role in supporting their net zero strategies.” Simply offering eco-friendly products and packaging is no longer enough. Instead, consumers are seeking out companies who are actively tackling climate change and adopting an ethos of renewable practices that demonstrate their practical commitment to genuine sustainability. Clipper Logistics’ Carroll recognises both the vital global imperative of this drive, and the commercial benefits of demonstrating a strong sustainability commitment to clients. “There is now a clear reputational imperative for companies to become ever more sustainable. Effective planning around carbon management, and reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gases from warehouse facilities will be a focus, as will reducing water usage and an increase in recycling materials.” Williams sees the same drive towards evidential sustainability: ”The emphasis on sustainability across supply chains is continuing to increase. Our customers are requesting increased data and proof points regarding fuel, utilities, and waste as they work to make sure they are on track to reach their scope 3 emissions reduction targets.” Inescapably, the next few years will see no let-up in the testing trading conditions. However, the contract manufacturing and packing industry continues to grow, and BCMPA members continue to provide an invaluable resource for customers - whatever their outsourcing requirements are.


C A S E S T U DY : PA C K A G I N G

Part and parcel ECS Tuning, a leading US automotive parts business, has reduced manual packing constraints by adopting rightsize packaging automation, helping the

3D scanned on demand to determine the minimum box size required. Then, corrugated cardboard is custom cut to eliminate unnecessary volume and reduce or eliminate the need for void fill materials. Finally, the order is autoboxed in a fit-to-size parcel, taped, weighed, and labeled for shipping. By creating a right-sized box every 7 seconds, ECS can count on higher throughput and better use of labour resources. The CVP Impack can perform the work of roughly twenty human packers in an eight-hour period. This allows ECS to remove the manual packing choke points while improving the efficiency of their existing staff for higher-value tasks.

demands and future growth

From the customer-facing side, the CVP Impack will autobox up to 70 per cent of their catalogue with little to no void filler or packing material. This allows ECS to improve their customer experience with sustainable packaging that is easy to recycle or reuse.

ECS Tuning has a long and celebrated history supporting the European car community in the USA. From their beginnings as a family-operated service shop in 1962, ECS has become the leading distributor of genuine, aftermarket, and performance parts for Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, MINI, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

“With more associates picking orders, and a machine that can handle the volume, we anticipate a substantial increase in the number of orders moved out the door daily. That efficiency improvement translates to promises kept on shipping times with in-stock orders that are ready to ship on the same day,” says Max Everhard, GM of Special Operations at ECS Tuning.

and supporting current customer

In 2006, ECS decided to no longer accept or schedule service appointments, but concentrate its energies on increasing part and accessories sales, with ongoing improvements to customer service. A fast-growing inventory forced ECS to relocate to a new facility in 2009 with three times more space to accommodate their rapidly expanding business. Since, their staff has grown five-fold and the extra floor space is long gone, filled with parts, products, and equipment. Today, with over 1.3 million part numbers in their catalogue and all operations handled in house, ECS recognised that they did not have enough capacity in their manual packing process to consistently meet customer needs or expectations. ECS turned to Sparck Technologies’ CVP Impack Automated Packaging Solution to support their current demands and future growth. With this inline auto-boxing technology, each unique single- and multi-item order is

ECS recognised that they did not have enough capacity in their manual packing process to consistently meet customer needs or expectations

business meet increasing order volumes


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M AT E R I A L H A N D L I N G E Q U I P M E N T

With a scalable design philosophy, the Hyster A Series with A+ Logic avoids unnecessary features that increase cost without adding value to provide a way for businesses to get the materials handling solution that suits their needs and their budget, says Robert O’Donoghue, Vice President Marketing and Solutions at Hyster Europe

Pick and mix No two forklift operators face identical challenges when it comes to lift truck applications. This means that the right choice of materials handling equipment will always depend on the specific needs of the business. For example, in an industrial manufacturing and warehousing environment, there may be particular challenges posed by large loads or demanding conditions.

The Hyster solution for these differing user needs is the new A Series lift trucks. Described as ‘Distinctly Hyster, built for you’, these IC forklifts are designed with a series of scalable and adjustable features – known as A+ Logic – that allow the trucks to be configured to the warehouse or factory’s specific

needs. This enables the Hyster lift trucks to be supplied with what is needed to help overcome common industrial materials handling challenges, while delivering a low total cost of ownership. By designing your own Hyster H2.0-3.5A forklift truck, you

get the comfort, cost and performance benefits that suit your operation and your operators’ needs. Indeed, features tailored to operator comfort are a particular focus of the new series. Forklift operator confidence and comfort are tremendously important factors when it comes to optimising productivity and businesses should always select a lift truck that provides a comfortable working environment - especially if it’s a noisy, dirty or extreme site. For instance, the new Hyster A Series lift trucks feature attention to design that makes the lift truck comfortable and convenient to operate, helping to increase productivity across the whole shift.

Factors such as a spacious cabin with ample foot space and head and shoulder clearance, give the operator greater freedom of movement to help reduce strain on the body. There is also a large step size, providing a comfortable and secure platform, a flip-up arm rest that offers unobstructed access, and a contoured hood allowing the operator more


M AT E R I A L H A N D L I N G E Q U I P M E N T

room for entry and exit. This is really important in many manufacturing and storage operations where the operator has to keep getting on and off the truck. On the Hyster H2.0-3.5A models, a foot-activated, handreleased parking brake requires less effort than a handapplied brake and minimises strain on the operator’s back. Meanwhile, a standard, full-colour touch-screen display provides quick and easy access to vital truck information and performance statistics. For applications that involve operating outdoors, users can opt for their lift truck to be built with a suitable cabin option for hot or cold climates. For instance, a full weather-proof cabin will keep operators comfortable and productive in outdoor areas in the coldest or wettest climates. Operators also need to clearly see their surroundings and the Hyster A Series was developed with exceptional visibility. A wide mast view enhances forward and fork tip visibility when handling loads and awareness of the environment when travelling, while the operator enjoys greater rear visibility while driving in reverse thanks to the fact that the exhaust is positioned on the left-hand side. In addition, users can fine-tune their forklifts with options such as a high-strength laminated glass roof or a fork laser level line that helps the operator to quickly and easily see precisely where the fork tips will enter a load. In industrial manufacturing operations, lift trucks will typically be operating indoors in production areas and warehouses. In this environment, noise and other distractions can often represent a risk, especially if the truck is working in the vicinity of pedestrians. The Hyster A Series lift trucks address this with the addition of features such as blue and red spotlights, red line awareness lights, and/or a visible alarm to help indicate to pedestrians where a truck is, and that it is moving or working. An innovative Dynamic Stability System (DSS) option also helps reduce truck lean while turning and limits speed during certain cornering, lifting, and tilting manoeuvres, further helping to promote operational best practice.

Fork positioners allow the forks on the lift truck to be moved closer or further away from each other which means a wider variety of load sizes can be handled, including those with unusual sizes or shapes. Fork positioners can also improve load handling times and accuracy, and help minimise damage by ensuring the forks are positioned correctly. With speedier cycle times, this can also reduce fuel consumption and truck wear. Businesses can also select a multi pallet handler attachment for their A Series lift trucks, which helps to boost productivity by handling one or two pallets, side by side. Double pallet handler attachments allow operations to transfer goods quickly and enable curtainsided lorries to be loaded or unloaded speedily. A 360-degree rotator attachment for the H2.0-3.5A lift trucks gives businesses yet more handling options. The rotators can empty containers or boxes and can be useful in applications where the working cycles require partial or full load rotation. Drivers can rotate loads by activating one hydraulic function inside the cab, providing fast, continuous rotation both ways as well as excellent visibility. They also benefit from easy and fast fork mounting and positioning thanks to a new fork fixing system.

One of the other big challenges in industrial handling applications is the huge variation of loads encountered. To optimise performance, businesses may also consider finetuning their lift trucks with the addition of attachments.

To help meet environmental objectives, the new Hyster A Series lift trucks also help deliver reduced emissions. The H2.0-3.5A diesel models consume up to 13 per cent less diesel than other models, while the LPG trucks use up to 9 per cent less fuel than alternative trucks. The trucks also produce up to 23.5 per cent less CO2 per year than leading competitors.

For example, new premium integral side-shifting fork positioners are now available for Hyster A Series lift trucks.

Find out more about the Hyster A Series at www.hyster.com/A-Series-EN/


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