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Handling & Storage Solutions Editor

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£200k fine after lorry driver loses arm 16/08/2018

A safety system on the lorry was not working at the time of the incident.

Transportation and storage company, H Walton, was sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered injuries leading to the loss of his left arm.

Leeds Magistrates’ court heard how, on 9 August 2017, a lorry driver was delivering wheat to Low Newstead Farm in Ripon when it tipped onto the floor of a shed through the open rear door of the trailer. While walking to the rear of the trailer, the driver lost his footing in a heap of grain, which was formed by the load being discharged, and put his hand out to steady himself; his left arm came into contact with a rotating auger and was drawn in.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a crucial interlocking device was not functioning at the time of the incident, allowing the auger to run when the tailgate was open. It also found that the emergency stop device for the discharge mechanism failed to function, as it was operated through the same circuitry.

H Walton of Old Goole Mill, South Park Road, Goole, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (3)(C) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £531.40 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented: “The driver’s injuries are life changing. The trailer was fitted with a safety system to prevent exactly this type of incident; it could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out regular checks to ensure safety devices and systems remain working. This is something that many hauliers already do as part of their vehicle checks.”

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House of Fraser impasse highlights limits of collaboration 16/08/2018

These are uncertain times at House of Fraser for staff, customers, and suppliers. HSS editor Simon Duddy says it's a setback for collaboration.

The high-end retailer went into administration and was bought by Sports Direct.

This is not the end of the story, however.

What we are seeing now is a scramble as parties seek to maximise opportunity and minimise loss from the collapse.

For example, House of Fraser’s logistics operator XPO Logistics wants to get paid what it is owed, whereas Sports Direct wants to avoid costs where it can.

Equally other retailers are rumoured to be looking to out-bid Sports Direct on prime House of Fraser sites. 

It’s chaotic and it is cut throat. There will be winners and losers. That’s business. It is fundamentally adversarial.

For a long time, collaboration has been championed by supply chain professionals seeking to add efficiency to logistics. This is a brilliant idea and it makes perfect sense to supply chain and logistics managers who are primarily concerned with keeping the machinery of UK plc moving as smoothly as possible.

No one can argue with its logic. 

But business is not motivated primarily by logic. It’s more about chasing profit, and that doesn’t always lead to logical or pleasant places.

Or if you are a logistics business, how far can you go in sharing information and processes with a customer, knowing that one day, they may hit the rocks and leave you arguing over millions in unpaid bills?

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Two workers suffer broken backs at the same warehouse 13/08/2018

The staff fell and broke their backs at the Manchester warehouse within months of each other.

In June 2016 an employee was working up a wooden ladder when he fell and fractured vertebrae in his lower back.

In August that year, another member of staff fell when a horizontal racking beam came away as they stepped onto it. 

Children's clothing company Roco Clothing was fined almost £40,000 following a local authority prosecution.

The council said the racking had not been correctly installed and had never been inspected.

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Distribution strategy unclear as Sports Direct buys House of Fraser 10/08/2018

Sports Direct has acquired the business and assets of House of Fraser from administrators for £90 million.

It is unclear if Sports Direct will seek efficiencies in distribution operations across the two retailers.

House of Fraser operates a national distribution centre in Wellingborough and an eCommerce Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes.

Sports Direct has a 800,000 sq ft DC in Shirebrook, near Mansfield (75 miles to the north of Wellingborough), as well as a smaller DC in Wigan.

For the year ended 28 January 2017, the House of Fraser group had gross assets of £946.3m and made £14.7m net profit.    

A recent plan to transform House of Fraser into a multichannel-led retailer failed to attract enough investment, and it was subsequently placed into administration.

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Tesco fined £160k after worker injured unloading roll cages 09/08/2018

Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £160,000 after a member of staff at their Chadwell St Mary branch was seriously injured when a cage full of goods fell on them as they were unloading it from a lorry.

The employee suffered severe injuries, including a fractured pelvis, as a result of the incident and had to be rushed to hospital.

Thurrock Council's Health and Safety and Legal teams brought the action because the roll cage should only be moved by 2 people. Tesco had a previous health and safety conviction for allowing a lone worker to move a cage at its branch in Waverley.

Tesco pleaded guilty to a charge under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of Thurrock Council, said: "It is vital that workers are properly protected and safe when they are doing their jobs. We will always take action to ensure that proper standards are maintained by the borough's employers.

"Both the Health and Safety and Legal teams have done an outstanding job bringing this case.

"The size of the fine should serve as a deterrent and a signal to employers that we take the health and safety or our residents and others who work in Thurrock very seriously."

Tesco were ordered to pay a £160,000 fine, £18,118 costs to Thurrock Council and a victim surcharge of £120.

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Who will win in the future of container shipping? 06/08/2018

The container transport industry is entering a period of notable experimentation, says Report.

In its Brave new world? – Container transport in 2043 report, leading international freight transport insurer TT Club, in conjunction with global management consulting firm McKinsey, have looked at the future of containerised trade, how value can be created and who the ‘winners’ could be within the industry by 2043.

The Report see the possibility of traditional supply chain service providers being significantly challenged. Increasingly digitally enabled services, which can directly control the flow of goods from factory to consumer, will become progressively more influential. Indeed, these ‘Digital natives’ could transform and re-shape the container transport industry.

Having carefully garnered the perceptions of leading figures from a cross section of the transport industry and beyond, the Report highlights that an efficient containerised supply chain, acting like a conveyor belt from factory to consumer, could be one of the significant changes in the future outlook. 

It acknowledges the well-known paradox of cargo owners and end-consumers enjoying lower costs, while industry players struggle to share in the value-creation and highlights six potential sources of value creation.

Six sources of value creation

  • Greater economies of scale - The exceptional expansion in ship sizes has reverberated through the rest of the container supply chain. A key question for the future is the extent to which customers prefer lower unit costs or greater flexibility.
  • Flexibility - Do customers value faster, more direct services? If so, scale would be deprioritised in favour of flexibility and modularity.
  • Supply chain reliability and predictability – The other side of the flexibility coin, as e-commerce changes consumer expectations, driving improved cycle-times and transparency.
  • Consolidation and integration – So far seen in limited segments of the industry, which is still fragmented compared to some comparable industries and with potential of optimisation through vertical integration.
  • Automation and productivity hold the potential to improve reliability and service levels, while reducing structural cost.
  • Environmental performance – Responding to the challenges relating to fuel and emissions but also the growing societal sensitivities towards protection of the environment.

The container transport industry today is entering a period of incredible experimentation as different players try to find a winning formula to create value. The Digital Reinvention scenario goes some way to utilising the six suggested sources of such value creation, resulting in a 2043 landscape in which the incumbents of the container transport industry lead what is fundamentally a digital future, where trade developments may not be the key driver.

In this world, flexibility, resilience and optimisation are paramount, applying the ‘last mile’ lessons to deep sea trades. Furthermore, vertical integration becomes the strategic imperative in order to build effective digital platforms and operating systems that both satisfy, and benefit from, end to end demand. Scale economies lose value, as flexibility and deep integration into customer supply chains  increase, providing transparency, predictive capability and high reliability.

Digital reinvention

In this 2043 scenario, as the report states, “Digital, data and analytics have indeed become the fundamental driver of value creation. Players with significant asset footprints lead the way, with proprietary data that allows them to out-compete any potential disruptive entrant. Data and technologies like blockchain are used in creative ways and many digital native suppliers of software and analytical solutions thrive.”

Charles Fenton, TT Club’s CEO says: “The container transport industry faces a complex future. The industry experts in this research are generally agreed that the physical characteristics of the industry won’t change radically. However, automation holds enormous potential; digital, data and analytics will be central to competitive dynamics, and the business models of industry leaders in 2043 could look very different from today. Digital reinvention is just one of four potential scenarios that our report envisages.  Its in-depth challenge to our perceptions of the future is well worth close consideration.”

To download a copy of ‘Brave New World?’ please visit: https://www.ttclub.com/news-events/brave-new-world/

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B&Q DC to install batteries to store solar power 02/08/2018

The Swindon distribution centre already has 552 rooftop solar panels but a lot of energy has been exported to the grid when on-site demand is low.

Kingfisher’s Swindon distribution centre uses 3.5MW of power per year on average. Currently, around 35% of the power generated by the solar panels at the site is exported back to the grid as surplus.

The energy storage batteries will mean that this energy can be stored and released back to the building to provide power during periods of peak pricing. The timed release of energy can also support its overnight operations, when the solar panels are dormant. The batteries will reduce the site’s grid power consumption by 31%, with some days where zero grid energy will be used to power the site.

These installations form a key part of Kingfisher’s aim to reduce grid energy consumption across its UK property portfolio.

Solarcentury, Kingfisher’s renewable energy partner, will manage the installation with batteries supplied by Samsung.

Each battery rack is the size of a large domestic fridge-freezer. Each one has a capacity of 94.5KW, with the total planned capacity equating to 756KW. The batteries will be able to store 40% of the power generated by the solar roof panels. The system will also power electric car charging points in the car park. Solarcentury will project manage the installation, and its ongoing maintenance and monitoring systems. The project is expected to be completed in early September 2018.

The system will complement an existing biomass boiler and chipper which will provide renewable heat for the site.

Kingfisher already purchases 100% of its UK electricity from renewable sources.

The installation is the latest milestone in Kingfisher’s strategic roadmap for sustainable growth to 2025 and moves the company towards its goal of becoming a net positive business by 2050.

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Royal Mail improves parcel offering 02/08/2018

It has made enhancements to its tracked services. These include e-mail and SMS notifications that specify the address of the neighbour where items have been left when customers are not at home.

In addition, an electronic version of the ‘Something for You’ card will enable customers to collect items from Customer Service Points using their mobile devices.

Acceptance scans at Royal Mail Customer Service Points will be available for customers with prepaid, bar-coded items. This includes returns and marketplace sellers dropping off items.

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Drinks firm implements ASRS solution 06/08/2018

B2A Technology has automated a 27,000 sq m warehouse for The Castel Group.

The Castel Group is the world’s third largest drinks merchant. B2A Technology is the holding company of Alstef and BA Robotic Systems, and is a leader in automated turnkey solutions for the intralogistics, airport and robotics markets.

The new production centre has been provided with a complete and integrated handling solution. It comprises AGVs to automated warehouses, with three distinct areas.

The first area is intended for the storage of wire containers (4400 locations on 5 levels) and TSR riddling containers (4200 locations on 4 and 5 levels). This temperature and hygrometry-controlled area is reserved for the French “Crémant” sparkling wine. The handling of wire and TSR containers is carried out by a fleet of counterbalanced AGVs.

The second area hosts the receiving and the gravity shipping areas, as well as a bulk storage of 25,060 locations at ambient temperature. This warehouse is comprised of six multi-depth storage aisles (6 stacker cranes with satellites), supplied by eight double powered conveyors AGVs.

The third area includes a traditional manual storage of 2,100 locations and an automated buffer storage of nearly 2,500 locations (three single-load / single-depth stacker cranes) supplying the manual picking area. The four ergonomic order-picking shafts workstations, EasyPickStation, are supplied with master pallets by two sequencing shuttles. The outfeeding of the subassemblies is also ensured by shuttle.

The facility will be managed by Stockware WMS developed by Alstef. A specific add-on for load composition of pallets has been added. This module can optimise the number and the size of the pallets but also build the load while respecting the constraints of fragility, orientation and weight of the products as well as specific customer constraints (non-alternating layers, contiguous products, etc.). The pallets are built to best optimise transport.


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No deal Brexit ‘looks extremely bleak’ says RHA 31/07/2018

On Tuesday 24 July, MPs in the House of Commons were heard to repeat ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. But for the 7000+ members of the Road Haulage Association the prospect of a future without a Brexit deal looks extremely bleak.

A no-deal Brexit will create massive problems for international hauliers – whether UK or mainland Europe based. It is time for a reality check, says the Association.

Since the prospect of leaving the EU became a reality in June 2016, the Road Haulage Association has been campaigning tirelessly to get the best deal for its members. It is essential – for the people and businesses of mainland Europe and Great Britain that the current system of frictionless borders continues.

For supply chains, customs controls and the controlling of lorry movements the key issues. Should there be no deal and customs controls are established for UK hauliers at every European border, the knock-on effect will be crippling.

According to RHA chief Executive Richard Burnett: “The Dover Strait handles 10,000 lorries each day and processing them through the port is currently seamless.

“The stark reality is that if customs controls are put in place, it will take an average of about 45 minutes to process one truck on both sides of the channel. If that happens then the queues of HGVs in Kent will make the jams seen in the summer of 2015 appear as little more than waiting for the traffic lights to change.”

In March this year Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP said: “We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover, we will not impose checks at the port, it is utterly unrealistic to do so. We don't check lorries now, we're not going to be checking lorries in the future. I’m clear that it cannot happen.”

But what about the French?

If they put customs processes in place in March 2019 to check all lorries traveling between the UK and the EU hauliers will be faced with the prospect of coming over to the UK and having to wait for days – even weeks, before they can return home. This will be a huge deterrent to them making the journey at all.

50% of food consumed in the UK’s comes from around the world – of which 70% comes from the EU.

It is not just customs, ECMT permits for lorries to carry goods internationally will be required. For UK operators these are limited to less than 5% of the number of licences currently issued. If that scenario becomes reality, most UK operators will unable to go and get the goods themselves. Without special arrangements EU operators will also need to use ECMT permits.

British hauliers that make international journeys will be forced out of business, causing irreparable damage to the supply chain. The foods we take for granted, oranges from Spain for example will become an expensive luxury. Supply and demand for basic foodstuffs could even mean the introduction of food rationing. Is this just scaremongering? No. Could it be the death knell for the thousands of hauliers that deliver 98% of the UK economy? Quite possibly.

A Brexit without a deal will put thousands of HGV drivers out of a job and millions without the food they have come to expect. With just over 6 months to go until the UK leaves the EU, the time for political grandstanding is over. UK hauliers need practical solutions to resolve practical problems.

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