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EU outlines its plan for ‘no deal’ Brexit 25/03/2019

The European Commission says no deal will be disruptive and has outlined measures it will adopt on April 12, if no deal is reached in Westminster by March 29.

The European Commission says it is increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12 April and it has outlined its “no-deal” preparations.

Its statement read: “The EU will be required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders with the UK, which would then be a third country. This includes checks and controls for customs, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and verification of compliance with EU norms. There will be no transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Specific measures planned by the EU relevant to the logistics industry include:

-      Air connectivity and safety: these two measures will ensure basic air connectivity in order to avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of a “no-deal” scenario. 

-      Road connectivity: allows for the continuation of safe basic road connectivity between the EU and the UK for a limited period of time, provided that the UK gives reciprocal treatment to EU companies and operators.

-      Rail connectivity: ensures the validity of safety authorisations for certain parts of rail infrastructure for a strictly limited period of three months to allow long-term solutions in line with EU law to be put in place. This is, in particular, related to the Channel Tunnel and will be conditional on the United Kingdom maintaining safety standards identical to EU requirements.

-      Ship inspections: this aims to ensure legal certainty and secure business continuity in shipping.

-      Re-alignment of the North Sea – Mediterranean Core Network Corridor: This adds new maritime links between Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to the core network, and introduces a new funding priority to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF): adapting transport infrastructure for security and external border check purposes.

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Ocado says model is sound despite catastrophic Andover fire 19/03/2019

The online grocer and automated technology leader updated investors today in the wake of the fire in February which destroyed its automated DC in Andover. 

The facility handled around 10% of Ocado’s capacity in the UK.

In a statement the firm said: “A thorough examination of the causes is currently being undertaken. Our initial assessment of the reasons for the fire gives us confidence that, going forward, there are no significant implications for the risk profile of the assets or the viability of our model.”

Tim Steiner, Ocado’s CEO added: “The fire has been a setback, but it will be only a temporary one. Over the last few weeks, our teams have been working hard to minimise any disruption to our customers and we will build a state‐of‐the‐art replacement facility.”

Ocado grew revenues 11.2% in the 13 weeks to 3 March 2019. 

It says the impact of the fire was equivalent to 1.2% of sales in the quarter.

Temporary measures to cunter the effects of the fire include setting up a temporary spoke in Andover and adding capacity to the Erith DC faster than envisaged

Ocado added an analysis of the optimum solutions for rebuilding has begun.

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Temporary tariff regime for no deal Brexit published 13/03/2019

Government has published details of the UK’s temporary tariff regime for no deal, designed to minimise costs to business and consumers while protecting vulnerable industries.

British businesses would not pay customs duties on the majority of goods when importing into the UK if we leave the European Union without an agreement.

Under the temporary tariff, 87% of total imports to the UK by value would be eligible for tariff free access.

The new tariff regime would mark a shift in favour of products from non-EU countries. It would mean 82% of imports from the EU would be tariff-free, down from 100% now. 92% percent of imports from the rest of the world would pay no border duty, up from 56%.

Pauline Bastidon, FTA Head of Global & European Policy said: “The crucial information released by Government today on tariffs applying to imports into the UK on day one in the event of a no deal Brexit is, frankly, long overdue. This is critical information for importers, who have been kept in the dark for too long in spite of repeated requests for transparency.

“The list of origin countries that will benefit from preferential access is also revealing in itself. With only 13 working days left until the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU, it is deeply concerning to get confirmation at this late stage that only a minority of EU trade agreements will have been rolled over. This not only represents an additional cost for importers, but is bad news for exporters too as it will limit access to preferential trade deals too. MPs should bear that in mind when asked to consider a no deal exit later today”.

You can see details of the UK’s temporary tariff regime for no deal here. The government is publishing this ahead of the vote in Parliament on No Deal.

This regime is temporary, and the government would closely monitor the effects of these tariffs on the UK economy. It would apply for up to 12 months while a full consultation and review on a permanent approach to tariffs is undertaken.

John Perry, managing director of leading supply chain and logistics consultancy SCALA, added: “Given that the Brexit referendum was only advisory, not in any way binding, there have really always been four potential outcomes open to us: leave with no deal, leave with Theresa May’s deal, leave the EU but remain in the customs union, and remain. 

“While they may trade with other countries around the world, most businesses I speak to agree that their most valuable trade is carried out within the EU, which is now in jeopardy. As a result, of those four potential outcomes, the vast majority of businesses would have opted to remain, or leave but remain in the customs union, at a push. 

“However, as soon as the result of the referendum was revealed, the government completely disregarded those two outcomes, and we have been nonsensically stuck between no-deal or May’s deal ever since. 

“Now that May’s deal has been emphatically voted down by MPs, we have disastrously edged one step closer to a no-deal Brexit. Despite the second vote on whether to block a no-deal Brexit taking place later today, this will still be the default on the 29th March unless May can manage to get the other EU member states to agree to an extension in time. 

“An extension would undoubtedly be by far the best outcome now for British businesses. Delaying the deadline until at least the summer would give us the chance to come together to campaign for either a second referendum in which the options are properly laid out, or at the very least to stay in the customs union. 

“However, even if we still face a no-deal Brexit following a delay, the additional few months would have given businesses an invaluable opportunity to prepare themselves as thoroughly as possible. An extension would allow businesses to look beyond stockpiling and put in place more effective, long-term risk-reduction strategies by undertaking a full assessment of their supply chains, protecting themselves against the uncertainty that lies ahead.” 

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One million logistics robot shipments predicted by 2022 08/03/2019

A growing number of warehousing and logistics companies are incorporating robots, says research from Tractica.

Tractica forecasts that worldwide shipments of warehousing and logistics robots will grow rapidly over the next 5 years from 194,000 units in 2018 to 938,000 units annually by 2022.

The firm puts take-up down to a competitive market driven in large part by consumers that demand rapid fulfillment. At the same time, robotic warehousing and logistics technologies are advancing in capability and becoming more affordable each year, says the firm.

According to the report from Tractica, demand combined with labour shortages have created a tipping point that could lead to widespread adoption of robots in warehouses and logistics operations to assist and displace human workers.

The market intelligence firm anticipates that the rate of growth will begin to slow after 2021 as many major market players will have adopted robotic systems by then.

Tractica estimates that worldwide revenue for this category will increase from $8.3 billion in 2018 to $30.8 billion in 2022.

“The warehousing and logistics robot market is experiencing strong growth, and supply chains are being transformed as companies replace fixed infrastructure and outdated processes with flexible, scalable robotic solutions to meet the changing demands of modern commerce,” says senior analyst Glenn Sanders.

Tractica’s report Warehousing and Logistics Robots - which covers Mobile Robot Platforms, Shuttle Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, Industrial Robotic Manipulators, and Gantry Robots - can be downloaded here.

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Kion revenue in 5.2% boost to almost 8bn euros in 2018 28/02/2019

The global manufacturer of industrial trucks, robotics, and automation technologies for material handling said it had ‘unwavering growth in its core markets in Europe, the United States and Asia’.

Revenues at the Kion Group rose by 5.2% to almost EUR8 billion in 2018.

The trend towards global value chains and supply chains, combined with the rapid growth of eCommerce, has resulted in extensive capital expenditures on warehousing and logistics facilities worldwide, the Group said. Wide-ranging automation is becoming an important feature of supply chain solutions. 

The statement said: “The KION Group is excellently positioned in this area because it is one of the world's leading providers of automated systems and automated guided vehicle systems.”

It continued: “The fundamental growth indicators for the global material handling market are still intact. Capital expenditure on warehouse capacity is expected to continue at a high level worldwide. Value chains are becoming increasingly fragmented and consumers are increasingly opting to buy online. These are the factors that are continuing to drive the intralogistics market.”

The KION Group wants to invest heavily in expanding its production capacity in the years ahead so that it can fully exploit the anticipated demand and further increase the flexibility of its production operations. The main areas of capital expenditures are planned to be implemented and processes are being improved. Furthermore, the Group wants to establish a new plant in Poland and add to its existing capacity in the fast-growing Indian as well as Chinese market.

Under its KION 2027 strategy, the KION Group is focusing on energy, digitalisation and automation since these areas have a significant influence on intralogistics. 

In addition to creating the new position of Chief Digital Officer on the Executive Board and establishing the KION Digital Campus, the Group made significant progress on developing a variety of new products and solutions in 2018, some of which have now been launched on the market. 

The latest examples include the Dematic iQ Virtual software for simulating future warehouse management solutions as well as the app-enabling Linde technicians to manage service orders from their smartphones and STILL's fleet optimisation app.

The Robotics Center of Excellence has been established in the United States. Robotic picking module, a software-controlled robot designed to speed up warehouse processes. It is equipped with sensors and visual processing capabilities and can grip objects. The KION Group's medium-term objective is its digitalisation and automation strategy. With its automated solutions, the KION Group is helping customers move closer to the goal of a 'lights-out' warehouse.

Gordon Riske, CEO of Kion Group, said: “In the medium term, we predict that the global demand for industrial trucks will go up by 4% annually and that growth in demand for supply chain solutions will be in the high single digits.”

Industrial Trucks

The Industrial Trucks & Services segment (ITS) registered a year-on-year increase in orders across all sales regions from 7.6 percent to around 216,700 trucks. The total value of intake in 2018 rose by 6.0 percent to EUR6.21 billion, despite negative currency effects of EUR98.5 million. In addition to new truck orders, the expanding service business also contributed to this growth. Revenue went up by 6.3 percent to EUR5.92 billion. The segment's adjusted EBIT increased to EUR655.4 million (2017: EUR642.7 million). The adjusted EBIT margin fell from 11.5 percent to 11.1 percent, mainly due to higher material prices, increased wage costs and production inefficiencies caused by temporary bottlenecks at suppliers.

Supply Chain Solutions

The Supply Chain Solutions segment (SCS) saw a significant year-on-year improvement of 15.5 percent in its order intake to EUR2.43 billion in 2018. Following a restrained start to the year, the segment was awarded some major projects, especially in the second and third quarters. The segment's revenue increased moderately, by 2.3 percent, to reach EUR2.06 billion. Adjusted EBIT came to EUR180.2 million, which is below the figure for the prior year of EUR188.7 million. This was predominantly due to the temporary underutilisation of personnel capacity. Consequently, the adjusted EBIT margin is declined from 9.4 percent to 8.8 percent.

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Double award success 28/02/2019

Aurelius has won in two categories at the Rushlight Awards in London.

In partnership with Cambridge University, Aurelius won the Resource Innovation Award and Clean Environment Award, both for the development of its clean battery recycling technology and the resultant superior lead product which is sold back to the battery manufacturers to produce more energy dense Lead Acid Batteries.

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AMH Material Handling apprentice wins learning award 28/02/2019

Sam Pitfield, aged 19 from Rushden, was announced as the Training Centre Shield winner for Full Time Learner of the year at the Northamptonshire Industrial Training Association Ltd (NITAL) achievement awards ceremony held in Kettering in January 2019.

As part of his apprenticeship scheme with NITAL, Pitfield holds the role of engineering technician at AMH Material Handling. AMH is a West Midlands based provider of automated material handling and logistics solutions as well as a servicing and maintenance provider.

Based in a customer’s Northampton facility, Pitfield works with the AMH team to deliver both planned and reactive maintenance for an automated material handling system. Pitfield has held the role of engineering technician at AMH for one year and his apprenticeship scheme will run for a further three years. Alongside his position with AMH, as part of the scheme, Pitfield attends a training centre on day release.

NITAL Training and Development is an independent training provider based in Northampton. Established in 1969, the organisation delivers apprenticeships and training across a range of sectors.

AMH has been working in partnership with NITAL over the last 12 months and has now taken on four apprentices as a result. As well as working for AMH, each apprentice undertakes multi-skilled training at NITAL’s Kettering training centre covering a broad range of engineering disciplines.

Michael Ryan, accounts and commercial director at AMH Material Handling comments: “AMH first contacted NITAL when we needed to increase our servicing and maintenance assistance on a customer’s site. We were recruiting for engineering technicians and, having spoken to NITAL before and visited their training centre, we were impressed by the level of training they provide. Consequently, we decided to create an apprenticeship scheme at AMH and NITAL assisted us with designing and developing the programme.

“It was NITAL themselves who nominated Sam for the Full Time Learner of the year award and it’s great that he’s been recognised for his hard work. Sam has fitted in well on site, working alongside our other technicians, and is doing a great job for our customer. We look forward to seeing his career develop as he progresses with his apprenticeship over the next few years.

“In total we now employ six apprentices across multiple customer sites. Four apprentices work with us on the NITAL programme and two are through a scheme with Newcastle-under-Lyme College.”

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Agility Robotics unveils bipedal robot for last mile logistics 27/02/2019

The robot, named Digit, which adds an upper torso, arms, sensors, and additional computing power to the company’s Cassie robot design.

Four degree-of-freedom (4-DOF) arms extend both the mobility and utility of Digit, as compared to Cassie. “For us,” said Dr. Jonathan Hurst, CTO and co-founder of Agility, “arms are simultaneously a tool for moving through the world - think getting up after a fall, waving your arms for balance, or pushing open a door - while also being useful for manipulating or carrying objects.” These new capabilities are important when moving through complex, human-oriented environments, for tasks such as curb-to-doorstep delivery.

Although still in testing, Digit is strong enough to pick up and stack boxes weighing up to 18kg, as well as durable enough to catch itself during a fall using its arms to decelerate. In addition to the physical changes, the control system for Digit has been overhauled to enable advanced behaviours such as stair climbing and footstep planning, all controlled through a robust API that can be accessed both onboard the robot and via a wireless link.

Digit’s torso houses two multi-core CPUs, and a modular payload bay allows a third computer - in a variety of possible form factors - to support additional perception and reinforcement learning capabilities.

Out-of-the-box, Digit will be up and walking within five minutes, even for users who are not legged locomotion control researchers.

Agility will announce Digit pricing mid-year, with deliveries beginning Q1 2020.

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New pharma hub in Madrid 27/02/2019

IAG Cargo has opened a centre in Madrid for transporting time and temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products.

It is an addition to IAG Cargo’s hub, which handles over 250,000 tonnes of cargo per year.

With two dedicated temperature-controlled chambers totaling over 900 sq m, the Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certified facility will allow IAG Cargo to increase the volumes of temperature sensitive pharmaceutical products passing through its Madrid hub, primarily serving the growing Latin American pharmaceuticals market.

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UK hoping for relaxed enforcement on pallets 27/02/2019

If the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, strictly speaking, all UK pallets are subject to much stricter checks and regulations.

Under ISPM15 regulations, the EU requires pallets arriving from non-member states to meet checks and standards, such as heat-treating to prevent contamination.

Most pallets in the UK would not meet these ‘third country’ rules.

In a statement, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said: “In the event of no deal, all wooden pallets moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All wooden pallets may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.”

However, the Government is hoping for relaxed enforcement. It added it no plans to impose stricter enforcement on pallets coming from the EU to the UK.

The statement continued: “Checks on wooden pallets will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from wooden pallets imported from the EU is not expected to change as a result of an EU exit.”

FEFPEB (Fédération Européenne des Fabricants de Palettes et Emballages en Bois), the European federation of wooden pallet manufacturers also supports a common sense approach. 

In a statement FEFPEB said: “If the UK will be leaving the EU without a deal, it does not change the plant health risk between the EU and UK and FEFPEB therefore strongly advocates maintaining the current situation – no ISPM 15 requirements for flows between EU and UK. This would be the best solution for wooden pallets and logistics in general.

“There should also be a pragmatic implementation and controlling policy, in order to allow an orderly transition period and thereby avoid a disastrous disruption of trade post Brexit. A phase-in period to increase and adapt the heat treatment capacity of the industry is essential.”

The rules also apply to other wood packaging material (WPM) such as crates, boxes, cable drums, spools and dunnage.

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