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AB InBev opens robo-warehouse in Wales 11/10/2018

The automated warehouse has space to store 23 million pints of beer at its largest UK brewery in Magor, South Wales.

The world’s largest brewer plans a global roll-out of the warehouse technology, making Wales the starting point for the technology expected to cut its carbon impact.

The new facility was opened by local MP for Newport East, Jessica Morden.

Robotic cranes in the 80,000 cubic metre warehouse operating across six stories and 9 miles of racking will be able to retrieve any one of the stored pallets in under 60 seconds.

The warehouse’s technology was delivered by automated material handling specialists, Consoveyo.

Carbon footprint

The warehouse’s technology will reduce the brewery’s carbon footprint by 605 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent to the electricity consumption of 600 homes[i], by reducing transportation between warehouses. It builds on several investments at the Welsh brewery, including a CO2 recovery system and a waste-to-energy power generator.

The investment reinforces the brewer’s commitment to its 2025 Sustainability Goals, which includes the target of a 25% reduction to carbon emissions across its value chain against a 2017 baseline – the equivalent of taking more than 1.5 million cars off the road each year.

Commitment to Wales

Lloyd Manship, Brewery Manager for AB InBev said: “This investment demonstrates our commitment to Wales. It means we can get our beer out and into stores and pubs faster and more efficiently than ever before, that’s ultimately good for us, our customers and the environment.

“I’m proud that this technology is a global first for AB InBev and look forward to seeing its implementation all over the world.”

Jessica Morden MP, Newport East, said: “I am delighted to see one of the region’s biggest local employers continue to grow and expand, and to meet the engineers that will be operating the facility.”

The new warehousing builds on a series of investments into the brewery’s environmental performance. These include a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generator that converts biogas produced from the brewery’s by-products into clean energy, a CO2 Recovery Plant, which has made the brewery self-sufficient for carbon dioxide, and a 20% reduction in water consumption over the past five years, driven by investment into water recovery technology.

As part of the brewer’s sustainability ambitions, it recently introduced a new accelerator programme in a bid to support emerging start-ups with an ambition to tackle some of the world’s greatest sustainability challenges including climate change, water scarcity and circular packaging. This will see AB InBev invest up to £75,000 in each start-up selected for its accelerator programme; the 100+ accelerator. The global brewer is looking for start-ups with ambitions in 10 areas including water stewardship, climate change, product upcycling and the circular economy, farming yields, responsible sourcing and greener logistics.

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Flour mill closure threatens logistics’ jobs 01/10/2018

The closure of Hovis’ Southampton mill with the loss of up to 70 jobs could have serious ripple effects that threaten a number of logistics jobs across the UK.  

Hovis announced that the Southampton flour mill will close at the end of 2018 and would see the separate warehouse and logistics operations working for Hovis at DHL Bawtry (near Doncaster), DHL Southampton and DSV Belfast cease at the end of the year.

Unite the union expressed ‘serious concern and dismay’ at the level of proposed job losses at Hovis as well as at DHL Bawtry where it has 200 members, DHL Southampton (31 members) and 18 at DSV Belfast. It is not clear at this stage how many Unite members are working at these sites on the Hovis contract. 

Unite called for an urgent meeting with Hovis to examine the business case for shutting the Southampton site, which has been operating since the 1930s, Hovis claims that Southampton mill, which includes the research and development unit, is ‘significantly loss-making’.

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Poll says warehousing now 'most appealing asset class' 28/09/2018

74% of real estate asset controllers say distribution and logistics is now the most appealing property asset class, according to research from law firm CMS.

This is in stark contrast to a sharp decline in sentiment towards the retail sector, which has fallen from being favoured by 35% in 2016 to just 7% in 2018.

Research compiled by FTI Consulting on behalf of CMS surveyed 353 real estate investors, developers and advisers, controlling combined assets worth £400bn to examine their views on the key factors driving the market.

Ciaran Carvalho, head of real estate, CMS UK, said: “UK logistics has benefitted from a tide of international capital. Global players have been captivated by the transformative impact of e-commerce on the sector. Its appeal is clear, with online fulfilment requiring about three times the warehousing space of traditional store bound models."

91% of real estate professionals said that demand will continue to increase in the UK.

However, both real estate professionals (85%) and retailers (83%) feel strongly that the future health of the logistics industry depends on securing a balanced trading agreement between the UK and EU.

Both real estate and retail specialists foresee continued high demand for both large out-of-town warehouses (76% and 72% respectively), however there is a discrepancy of views in relation to small, centrally located warehouses facilitating last mile delivery (86% and 55% respectively).

Since land is so scarce and expensive near towns and cities, the vast majority (88% real estate and 80% retail) think it is inevitable that warehouses will have to become ‘vertical’ or grow taller to accommodate demand.

The need to speed up and increase the volume of deliveries, largely due to the rise of e-commerce, is driving the key trends that are transforming the sector.

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Don’t wait for the fog to clear 11/09/2018

Supply chain experts urge firms to prepare now for possible disruption.

With increasing supply chain disruption possible as Brexit looms, coupled with the challenges of the seemingly unstoppable rise of eCommerce, supply chain experts are urging companies to be proactive.

As we get closer to the date when the UK leaves the EU, the scenarios of No-deal Brexit, or Hard Brexit are distinctly possible. 

Alan Braithwaite, senior adviser to consultancy BearingPoint, says: “Tariff and non-tariff impacts will be shocking for some sectors – with food and automotive the worst hit by a hard Brexit. For instance, a hard UK-Republic of Ireland Border could have massive implications for the food and drink sector – as 9 million tonnes of food and drink (4.9million in and 4.1million out) moves across this border each year.”

Right now, firms need to adhere to the maxim of ‘proper planning prevents poor performance’ as waiting for the ‘fog to clear’ is no longer an option.

Alan continues: “We have been advocating this for the past 18 months, but business has been stubbornly expecting it all to be sorted out. It’s highly risky for companies and their logistics providers to rely on generalisations, as the combination of tariffs and supply chain risks/opportunities will be company specific. 

“As there will be opportunities as well as exposures; the first step is to understand the company specific landscape. This can be done by mapping the extended supply chains (customers’ customers to suppliers’ suppliers), classifying the flows and duty exposures, understanding the market structure and capacity, and modelling the outcomes and identifying structural opportunities. Developing this map before the final negotiated outcome will enable an agile response when the ‘fog clears’.”

Businesses are being encouraged to seek Authorised Economic Operator status pre-Brexit to protect their supply chain.

Comprising an internationally recognised quality mark, an AEO accreditation indicates that a company’s role in the international supply chain is secure, and that its customs controls and procedures are both efficient and compliant. 

Although not mandatory, it provides quicker access to simplified customs procedures and, in some cases, the right to ‘fast-track’ shipments through customs.

Consultancy SCALA is offering an end-to-end service to manage the AEO accreditation process. 

Dave Howorth, director at SCALA, said: “With focus and correct management, the AEO Accreditation process can be completed within six months. So, the time to act is now. 

“Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, we can expect to see disruption to UK/EU cross border movements, alongside existing non-EU import/export movements being affected as HMRC is overwhelmed with handling UK/EU movements. Therefore, those hoping to minimise disruption to their supply chain post-Brexit should seriously consider applying for AEO accreditation – sooner rather than later.”


Online retail continues to claim High Street victims. House of Fraser wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last, but it is still quite shocking to see these big names fall by the wayside. It looks now as if Sports Direct, which purchased House of Fraser out of administration, will seek in the long term to serve the remaining House of Fraser stores via its existing Shirebrook distribution centre. It has been suggested that in the short term XPO Logistics, the old logistics provider of House of Fraser, will continue to supply stores and fulfil online orders, but that in the longer term, the old House of Fraser warehouses at Milton Keynes and perhaps Wellingborough also, will close.

This is effectively a logistics consolidation, however and abrupt and painful for those who will lose jobs and for XPO Logistics, who, it is reported, was owed substantial sums of money when House of Fraser went into administration.

It has been a fraught negotiation for all parties and could be seen as a a setback for the idea of increased collaboration across the supply chain. 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 always motivated primarily by logic. It’s more about chasing profit, and that doesn’t always lead to logical or pleasant places. Trust is a key building block of collaboration, and when big brands collapse in acrimony it certainly undermines trust and makes firms wary of exposing their business to excessive risk.


In the grocery sector, the growth of the discount and convenience sector is eroding major retailers’ market share, according to new research from SCALA.

The study says it could also come at a cost to suppliers. The research found that traditional major retailers’ share of product volumes has declined in recent years - with volumes down nearly 5% since 2015.

The erosion is a result of the emerging growth of discount retailers - expected to see an increase of 49.8% to their value over the next five years.

Convenience stores are also expected to see a healthy growth in value (17.7% by 2022), as they leverage their appeal to younger shoppers and those looking for food-on-the-go.

In contrast, traditional supermarkets are only set to see a value increase of 5.9% over the next five years.

Dave Howorth said: “While increased competition is positive for consumers, for the logistics sector, there are serious implications.

“Ultimately, more stores, growing networks and greater convenience comes at a cost to suppliers and the logistics businesses powering the supply chain.”

Scala’s UK Logistics Report found that major retailers are responding to the threat from the discounters by seeking benefits from consolidation, which again is impacting the supply chain sector.

Howorth continued: “The major retailers have, for some time, been looking at what the discount retailers do well and have initiated processes to rationalise product ranges and simplify their businesses to better manage their costs.

“The recent Sainsbury’s / ASDA merger and the tie-up between Tesco and Carrefour highlights this approach to making cost reductions, but the resulting impact to manufacturers could be detrimental.

“The impact of rationalisation on the logistics sector is two-fold. It may well help suppliers reduce logistics costs for supplying to major retailers, through larger loads and fewer delivery points. However, with retailers now requesting more bespoke products and pack sizes, the knock-on effect for manufacturers is added complexity, and therefore cost.”

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Warehouse manager wins HSS survey prize 07/09/2018

Congratulations to Nicki Milner, warehouse manager at Muntons, who won £100 in Amazon vouchers in our Tomorrow’s Warehouse Prize Draw.

In July, Handling & Storage solutions surveyed its readers to understand how they anticipate trends changing in the future and the results from the online survey, sent out in July 2018, make fascinating reading.

There was a strong consensus in some areas, with respondents looking expectantly towards new technology such as automation and lithium-ion powered forklifts. 74% of respondents saw Automation as an important future technology. Furthermore, 56% of those surveyed are actively considering lithium-ion powered forklifts in their investment plans.

One thing is certain, there is a need for flexible logistics that can quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

Click here to read the TOMORROW’S WAREHOUSE Special Report.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey!

Nicki Milner has held the position of warehouse manager at Muntons in Stowmarket since 2007.

Nicki said: “I have been in the warehousing industry for most of my career and still enjoy the challenges that this type of work brings.

“I found the Tomorrow’s Warehouse survey very topical and it was a great surprise to hear that I had won the Prize. I will be donating the £100 Amazon gift card to our next staff draw, where it will be raffled to raise money for our chosen charity.”

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House of Fraser Milton Keynes DC to close says GMB 07/09/2018

GMB said its members were informed on September 6 that the Milton Keynes depot of House of Fraser will close on November 27 with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

Members of staff were put on a 45 day consultation period on August 17, 2018.

House of Fraser collapsed last month as was bought out by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct. However a stand-off between Sports Direct and XPO – who run House of Fraser warehouses in Milton Keynes and Wellingborough – over a £30 million House of Fraser debt has left more than 600 people facing redundancy and orders at a stand-still.

GMB criticised both XPO and Sports Direct for the job losses.

Alan Costello, GMB organiser, said: “GMB is disappointed by the fact that XPO and Sports Direct are clearly only interested in the stock in the warehouse. They couldn’t care less about our members or their livelihoods. This whole stand off – during which our members have been left in limbo – has been about commodities – not people. Our members have been left by the wayside, while XPO and Sport Direct fight like rabid dogs over the bones of House of Fraser.”

HSS approached both XPO Logistics and Sports Direct for comment.

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Distribution company fine tunes RFID operation 03/09/2018

An RFID tagging project for a major distribution company was at risk of failing without expert analysis of the difficulties. The system was achieving a 99.5% success rate in the outbound lane but only a 70% to 80% success rate in the in-bound lane. CoreRFID was hired to diagnose and help resolve the issue.

The installed system involved the use of UHF RFID readers positioned on the inbound and outbound lanes of the loading bays at a vehicle depot to detect the passage of vehicles each carrying two UHF RFID tags with identical EPC codes mounted on either side of the drivers cab.
The audit involved an evaluation of the current installation of readers and tags and a series of measurements of the current system and the system in a possible revised configuration. 

Observations & conclusions 
The initial examination of the installation revealed a number of issues were contributing to poor performance: 

  • Some vans had different versions of the tags with different performance characteristics on each side.
  • Tags were not always mounted in consistent locations making the location of antennas sub-optimal and in some cases tags were fitted adjacent to metal framing that could result in interference. There were examples of tags using the wrong standard frequency - FCC rather than ETSI compatible (the UK/EU and USA use different tag standards) - and in one case a tag was found that had no active RFID inlay.
  • Tests were carried out looking at the performance of tags on different vehicles in the user's fleet. Using a standardised index of tag read performance 36 different vehicles were assessed in different reader / antenna configurations.
  • Three vehicles had tags that failed to read at all - caused by incorrect mounting of tags - while five others had readability index values close to the limit of acceptable performance. 

Lessons learned 
Reconfiguring the antenna and reader to so-called bi-static mode had the most beneficial effect on performance, improving the performance index by over 10% to a level where the average performance index was at a level that would allow successful operation of the system. 

As a result of this consultancy project CoreRFID provided the client with specific advice on actions to allow the system to achieve its expected performance levels. Recommendations included: 

  • Tag positioning problems to be looked for in a vehicle-by-vehicle audit 
  • Overcoming the differences in performance between old and new tag models 
  • Tag checking to ensure all tags in use are operational 
  • Configuring of reader channels for compatible operation 
  • Avoidance of application features likely to cause performance problems 
  • Configuring guidelines for RFID readers to avoid performance issues and advice on application enhancements to increase success rates and improve the discrimination between multiple readers in close proximity
  • Ensure new / replacement tags conform to frequency standards compatible with readers 

CoreRFID’s technical director Munzi Ali: “RFID is a highly effective system, with the potential to save substantial time and money. But any effective system needs to be correctly installed, through the audit we were able to identify the issues preventing the RFID system from performing to it full capability and suggest ways the user could make full use of its investment in RFID.”

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The Government issues help documents for no-deal 24/08/2018

Technical papers on coping with a no-deal scenarios released by UK Government.

Government expects to negotiate some deal before the deadline but has issued technical guidance to help companies prepare for a possible no-deal outcome.

The technical papers include guidance on ‘Importing and Exporting’.

The Freight Transport Association warned that British business still needs detailed information to ensure that the nation continues to trade efficiently after Brexit. 

It said logistics businesses need workable solutions to aim higher than damage control, and to keep Britain trading.

Sarah Laouadi, FTA's European policy manager said: “No deal would be disastrous for logistics. While preparing for every eventuality, including a no deal position, is a sound strategy, it should not be the end game which negotiators accept. There are clear problems which could face our supply chain if agreements cannot be reached including customs and border arrangements, the continuity of trade agreements and vehicle permits, as well as the continuation of business access to EU workers. Solutions for these areas are key to the continued success of British business, both at home and abroad, after 29 March 2019.”

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal then the repercussions for Europe’s supply chain will be a disaster, said the Road Haulage Association.

The RHA has met with government ministers on many occasions to discuss the needs of UK transport operators and has stressed that the only way to maintain economic links on both sides of the Channel is to continue with the process of free-flowing borders.

If that’s not going to be the case, then a no-deal Brexit will be little more than a nail in the coffin of the industry responsible for moving 98% of the UK economy.

The future for the people and businesses of Kent also looks grim, as within a short period of time the Garden of England becomes the UK’s biggest lorry park, concludes the RHA. 

Government’s no-deal Brexit advice papers ‘are the equivalent of “duck and cover” nuclear warnings’ said Parcelhero.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks MILT, said: “The advice that people and businesses shipping items to the EU should ‘Engage the services of a customs broker, freight forwarder or logistics provider to help, or alternatively secure the appropriate software and authorisations.’ is reminiscent of Government advice to ‘Use tables if they are large enough to provide you all with shelter’ from 1980’s Protect and Survive government booklet.”

The United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) has called on the Government to adopt new legislation that allows foodstuffs entering the country to be inspected at inland premises – instead of ports - to ease the flow of goods into post-Brexit Britain.

Speaking on the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News programme on August 21st UKWA CEO, Peter Ward, said: “Currently food inspections must be conducted within the port boundary, but after Brexit this will be impractical.”

He continued: “For example, 44 per cent of what the nation eats enters the UK at Dover from the EU. This is the equivalent of 1000 trucks per day through the port on ferries and the tunnel. 

“Inspecting this food in a manner consistent with Rest Of World (ROW) rules from March 2019 is going to present a major challenge. 

“For instance, the port of Dover doesn’t have the necessary plug-in points to power temperature-controlled vehicles, which means the only way to ensure that food remains cool while awaiting inspection will be to keep diesel engines running – which will add cost and impact on the environment.

“The lack of adequate inspection facilities at Ro/Ro ports, such as Dover, will result in unprecedented delays and after Brexit there will simply not be sufficient capacity nor the infrastructure to cope, so an interruption in food supply chains seems inevitable.”

Allowing food inspections to be carried out at inland storage facilities would, UKWA contend, allow existing storage premises to be adapted to accommodate inspection regimes and deliver the necessary extra capacity more quickly.

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John Lewis leases small warehouse to serve Southampton 20/08/2018

Retailer, John Lewis, has completed on the pre-let of Unit 3 at South Central, Southampton, at £9 per sq ft, on a 15-year lease, from Peel Logistics and Rockspring.

The 46,353 sq ft build-to-suit warehouse facility within South Central will enable John Lewis to deliver a new customer delivery hub service, with additional capacity to service Southampton and the wider south coast region. This facility will replace the retailer’s existing warehouse provision, located nearby in Southampton city centre, with the full relocation expected to be completed by April 2019.

James Haestier, director, Industrial and Logistics at Colliers International, who advised John Lewis says: “There is a distinct lack of industrial space in Southampton. At South Central, John Lewis has successfully collaborated with Peel Logistics to strategically build a facility to its exact needs and design.”

South Central is a new 205,935 sq ft industrial warehouse development comprising three units that were constructed in July 2018. It is adjacent to J3 of the M27 / M271 motorways.

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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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