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3PL invests in trucks to comply with Euro-6 regs 24/05/2019

A London-based logistics firm has completed a near-£3 million upgrade to its fleet in the wake of the capital’s earlier-than-planned introduction of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

ELB Partners, which is based in Wimbledon, has upgraded its entire 50-strong fleet to Euro 6-compliant vehicles to meet the stringent emission standards set out by the ULEZ.

The introduction of the ULEZ in April was 17 months ahead of schedule, forcing businesses like ELB to act quickly or face paying a £100 daily charge to drive its vehicles through large parts of central London.

Peter Eason, managing director of ELB, said the upgrade was a necessity as there is no viable alternative at present.

He said: “There is plenty of talk about electric trucks but we’re not yet at the stage where that’s practical or cost-effective. 

“We could use them for short delivery drops in London but they lack the range for the double shift jobs – which, as we all know, is where we see the most efficiency.

“We’re currently averaging 500 pallets a night through the Pallet-Track network, which it simply wouldn’t be possible to manage with EVs. 

“The Euro 6 fleet upgrade has been an expensive and time-consuming process, but ultimately a very necessary one.”

Peter has previously spoken out against the “demonisation of diesel” and argues that many of the engines are still clean and serviceable.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that a spend of this magnitude has a major impact on businesses like ours,” he added.

“Diesel could still be the answer for many years to come.”

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Major new DC for Co-op by 2022 20/05/2019

Planning go-ahead has been achieved for a new 661,000 sq ft regional distribution centre, to be developed for the Co-op at Symmetry Park, Biggleswade.

DB Symmetry agreed a new 20-year lease at the end of last year with the food retailer. Tritax Big Box REIT is funding the development.

The new facility will create up to 1,200 new employment opportunities and an investment value of over £90 million. The Co-op has confirmed it will be investing over £30 million on the fit out of the frozen, chilled and ambient depot which is expected to be fully operational by the beginning of 2022.

Symmetry Park is 29 miles north of the M25.

Andy Perry, supply chain & logistics director, Co-op, said: “The infrastructure and site selection will deliver greater agility, scale and efficiency – improving service and availability at existing stores while building capacity to support our store investment programme and ambitions for continued growth. The new site will provide greater scale while future-proofing our operations. The move will reduce road miles and overall supply chain costs while supporting our new and existing stores in the South and South East of England by having more of our products closer to our members and customers and the communities in which they live and work.”

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UK sees surge in spec build warehousing 08/05/2019

A surge in speculative development in the UK logistics and industrial sector contributed to a 35% rise in grade A availability in the first quarter of the year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Levels of grade A stock reached 26.8 million sq ft, accounting for 45% of all available space.

Total availability rose by 11% and now stands at 59.2 million sq ft. The largest increase in availability (30%) was registered in the Midlands reflecting the construction of several large speculative units across the East Midlands.

Cushman & Wakefield’s research also revealed that take-up slowed during the first quarter of the year to 6.5 million sq ft across 42 deals following a strong end to 2018.

Amazon and other E-commerce occupiers continued to dominate the leasing market accounting for a third of total take-up. The largest deals of the quarter were both by Amazon – a 730,000 sq ft pre-let at iPort Doncaster and 575,000 sq ft at Gazeley’s Altitude in Milton Keynes, the largest speculatively-built unit previously available on the market.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, enquiries tracked by Cushman & Wakefield for units over 50,000 sq ft rose to their highest quarterly level since 2016, reaching 266, suggesting that subject to a positive resolution of the current Brexit impasse, momentum will pick up towards the end of the year. Brexit negotiations also had an impact on investment into the UK logistics sector with volumes down 57% from Q1 2018.

Prime rents continued to rise, with London, Yorkshire and Wales all seeing annual growth rates above 5%. Prime rents for 50-100,000 sq ft units also grew at a faster annual rate of 3.8% than larger distribution warehouses, reflecting the demand for units near urban centres catering for last mile deliveries.

Bruno Berretta, UK Logistics & Industrial Research & Insight, Cushman & Wakefield, said: “While take-up has slowed in the first quarter of the year due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the economy, a slowdown in activity was on the cards but the basic market fundamentals are still strong. Logistics continues to outperform other commercial property sectors, posting a total annualised return of 12.2% in March.”

Simon Lloyd, partner in Cushman & Wakefield’s National Logistics & Industrial team said: “While there is an increase in supply, both the size and geographical range are wide which means that the choice for occupiers is not as extensive as it might first appear. For many, build to suit options may well prove to be the optimal solution.”  

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Planning secured for 46m high cold store facility 16/05/2019

iSec have secured planning permission for a 46m high state-of-the-art cold store facility in Grantham, totalling 23,648 sq m. XPO Logistics is the tenant.

The development is expected to create a further 300 jobs at the site, including warehousing, engineering and apprenticeship opportunities.

A key element of the development plans is the creation of a new cold storage facility totalling 23,648 sq m within the existing site where four warehouse units were previously lost to fire in 2013. 

This high bay unit will stand at 46m tall and provide capacity for circa 60,000 pallets at -28 degrees Celsius.

The plans also include site wide improvements, such as the demolition of an office block; erection of a new vehicle maintenance unit, fuel island and vehicle wash area, alterations to vehicular access, internal access road, car park extension, and associated landscaping.

The investment plans will generate up to £16.7m GVA to the location economy and will enable XPO Logistics, to modernise its existing operations onsite through new technology and automation and provide some of the additional capacity required by its customers.

In addition, the design of the scheme has been carefully considered to ensure the development addresses other challenges with the existing site layout, particularly the access and parking arrangements.The development plans will provide new access and parking arrangements for the site, including a new gatehouse located further into the site preventing backing up of vehicles onto Burton Lane, a new ‘one way’ internal road to improve flows within the site, a new car park creating 263 spaces, trailer parking for 60 trailers/9 tractors and localised widening of Burton Lane.

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Floor-cleaning robot firm raises cash 29/04/2019

Avidbots has raised $23.6 million in Series B funding led by returning investor True Ventures. To date, Avidbots has raised $36 million in venture capital financing.

Avidbots is a fast-growing company that designs and builds autonomous connected robots. While most robotic floor-cleaning machines are simply existing manual models retrofitted with hardware and software that allows them to travel a few pre-programmed routes, Avidbots Neo is said to be the first purpose-built commercial robotic floor scrubber that uses AI to optimise performance. 

Its first product is Neo, a robotic floor scrubber widely deployed in commercial locations around the world, including warehouses and manufacturing sites. Manufactured in Avidbots’ 40,000 sq ft facility in Kitchener, Ontario, Neo is in use today in over a dozen countries.

“With strong worldwide demand for our Neo industrial cleaning robot, Avidbots has been growing at a tremendous pace, and we’re excited to announce the financial support of world-class investors such as True Ventures, Next47, and GGV Capital as we enter into our next phase of expansion,” said Faizan Sheikh, CEO and co-founder of Avidbots. “With this new funding, we will accelerate investment in talent acquisition, engineering, marketing, and sales to bring our cutting-edge robots to more customers worldwide.”

“We invest in industrial automation and robotics companies that have thought deeply about which types of work are best suited for machines,” said Rohit Sharma, partner at True Ventures. “Repetitive, tedious work like commercial floor cleaning is an effective area of initial focus and we’re thrilled to support Faizan and his team as they pioneer this space.”

Neo learns from its environment to change its route on the fly—avoiding obstacles and adapting to new floor layouts. Neo has a vertically-integrated technology stack that incorporates proprietary software and a hardware design, as well as 3D sensors and cameras. Connected to the cloud through WiFi and 4G, Neo includes 24x7 monitoring and automatically receives regular software updates.

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ReBOUND appoints Colin Griffin to lead international returns opportunity 26/04/2019

Returns management platform ReBOUND has appointed ecommerce supply chain veteran Colin Griffin Executive Vice President.

The appointment marks the next stage of ReBOUND’s growth as brands move to harness data-driven returns globally, capitalising on the rising number of global ecommerce customers and using advanced analytics to make better decisions on how items are returned - and even sold in the first place.

Colin joins ReBOUND from Fanatics Inc., the world’s largest retailer of licensed sports merchandise, where he was Global Supply Chain & Operations Director. Before this, Colin was Group Supply Chain Director for Boohoo.

He will be responsible for leading ReBOUND’s global growth strategy, forging and strengthening partnerships to ensure the business’s brand customers can efficiently return items from fast-growing markets, with a particular focus on regions throughout Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas. He will liaise with brands as they harness the growing mountain of returns data to inform selling decisions, personalising suggestions for customers based on their previous preferences and behaviour.

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$9 million paid out in settlement after forklift injury 25/04/2019

A man in the USA who was run over by a forklift twice has settled his case against a number of companies for $9m.

The man’s leg was amputated after being run over by a forklift at a Mill Corp warehouse in Philadelphia in July 2015.

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Research firm scopes out global locations for manufacturing 24/04/2019

Global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has today published new research assessing 48 of the most suitable locations for global manufacturers to expand or relocate their operations in EMEA, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

While manufacturers’ individual requirements will vary, China performs strongly thanks to increasing Government investment in the adoption of technology, while the United States is most attractive for those seeking to minimise exposure to economic and political threats.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Manufacturing Risk Index (MRI) scores each country against 20 variables that make up three final weighted rankings which cover conditions, cost and risk. The data underpinning the MRI comes from a variety of reliable sources, including the World Bank, UNCTAD and Oxford Economics.

The report reveals that China is the leading country when viewed from a baseline scenario which gives equal importance to a country’s operating conditions and cost competitiveness. The United States is in second followed by India, Canada and Czech Republic making the top five. The Czech Republic is the highest ranked European country with Poland, Lithuania and Hungary also featuring highly.

When the data is looked at from a cost scenario - which gives a higher score to countries where operating outlay, including labour costs, is lower - China remains on top with Asian countries dominating the top 10. Only Lithuania and Romania, in seventh and eighth respectively, feature prominently from elsewhere.

The third ranking - the ‘risk’ scenario - takes into account rising geopolitical risk by favouring countries with lower levels of economic and political threat. In this scenario, North America leads the way with the US and Canada first and second respectively and China slipping to fourth. European locations account for more than half the top 10, led by the Czech Republic, which places third in the index, with Germany, Denmark, Finland, Austria and the United Kingdom also featuring in the top 10.

Report author Lisa Graham, Cushman & Wakefield’s EMEA Head of Logistics and Industrial Research & Insight, said: “These rankings provide a critical insight into the rapidly-evolving manufacturing landscape and the decision-making factors behind locations. Global manufacturing has entered a new era, marked by the growing influence of technology in addressing productivity, labour shortages and safety in production and logistics.

“We are seeing formerly low-cost locations such as China and India moving up through the value production chain through country-sponsored support of technological adoption. That is why Asian countries featured so prominently in our rankings. There are still concerns over intellectual property issues in the region which mean, that despite higher costs, countries in North America and Europe will continue to thrive as manufacturing bases.”

Cushman & Wakefield Manufacturing Risk Index 2019

Global Rank

Baseline Scenario

Cost Scenario

Risk Scenario

1

China

China

United States

2

United States

Malaysia

Canada

3

India

Vietnam

Czech Republic

4

Canada

Indonesia

China

5

Czech Republic

India

Singapore

6

Poland

Thailand

Germany

7

Malaysia

Lithuania

Denmark

8

Lithuania

Romania

Finland

9

Hungary

Sri Lanka

Austria

10

Thailand

Poland

United Kingdom

Rob Hall, Cushman & Wakefield’s Chair of EMEA Logistics & Industrial, said: “We are seeing an element of protectionism and nationalism putting global and regional and supply chains at risk. In Europe, the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations will redefine regional production lines as well as reshape domestic and international flow of goods.

“Countries which invest in platforms that facilitate flows in and out of production lines will succeed. China’s seamless supply chain connections have resulted in substantial investment in infrastructure and multi-modal transport, including the New Silk Road rail and maritime projects, in addition to incentives. These factors are off-setting concerns regarding intellectual property.”

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US firm expands to support lithium-ion growth 23/04/2019

Navitas Systems has announced a dedicated new building for Starlifter lithium material handling battery production.

The 100,000 sq ft Starlifter Manufacturing Centre has expanded annual capacity to 5000 of its Starlifter line of lithium forklift batteries and enables expansion of lithium cell production line.

Navitas has witnessed an almost 200% year-on-year growth in Starlifter revenues.

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ASOS hits green delivery milestone 15/04/2019

All-electric delivery company Gnewt by Menzies Distribution is set to deliver its 500,000th parcel in a ‘green’ delivery contract for fashion retailer ASOS.

The delivery programme lets customers have their purchase sent to their home via an all-electric van and human porter delivery service. The partnership between ASOS and Gnewt by Menzies Distribution has so far saved more than 80 tonnes of CO2 compared to standard delivery vans.

The milestone came on the day London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone launched, marking a fresh boost for low and zero-emission transport and deliveries in the Capital, and creating a blue-print that Gnewt believes is likely to be replicated in other UK cities.

Gnewt by Menzies Distribution delivers ASOS orders using its all electric van fleet in combination with its pedestrian based ‘Porters’. The parcels are trunked (bulk delivered) by Menzies Distribution from ASOS’s warehouse in Barnsley to the Gnewt hub in Bow, East London. The individual deliveries in London are then made from the Bow hub using electric vans and human porters with Gnewt now delivering in excess of 4,000 parcels per day.

ASOS customers within the central London Congestion Zone are automatically serviced by this eco-friendly delivery service as well as benefiting from Gnewt’s live track and trace service, text and email notifications, Proof of Delivery (POD) and an automated redelivery service. In addition, an industry first is the communication to the end user telling them their parcel is being delivered by electric vehicle.

A number of Gnewt vans have also been wrapped using an environmentally friendly, non-PVC material with ASOS’ signature parcel design and slogan, ‘fresh style, fresher air’, to showcase the efforts the company is making to clean up London’s severely polluted air. 

Gnewt has been changing the face of urban delivery for nearly a decade and last year alone, delivered over a million parcels, reducing CO2 emissions by 67% per parcel. Gnewt, in partnership with Ford, has developed and is trialling a sophisticated Portering model which requires a team to complete the last part of the journey by foot. This further reduces congestion, vehicle use and emissions and is currently provided to ASOS customers in Central London.

While it is currently only customers in central London who can be guaranteed emission-free last mile delivery, Gnewt by Menzies Distribution is expanding the area it services and is exploring the roll out of the service in other cities where air pollution and traffic congestion is a problem.

Sam Clarke, head of business development at Menzies Distribution said: “Air pollution is a major issue in London with the legal air pollution limit being reached just one month into this year. Similarly, with the Ultra Low Emission Zone starting in April, drivers and brands will be forced to confront the problem with our air quality.

“Gnewt is proud to provide a service which is emission-free at the last mile, reduces congestion and doesn’t compromise on speed and quality of service. We are delighted to partner with ASOS, enabling them to deliver a zero-emission final mile in the Central London Congestion Zone.”

Adam Scholes, delivery solutions general manager, ASOS said: “At ASOS, we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and demonstrate our commitment to being more environmentally friendly. At the same time, we always aim to improve the service we provide to our customers. Gnewt’s all electric fleet and emission-free last-mile is a significant step in the right direction for ASOS. Gnewt is unique in that it provides bespoke service updates at every stage notifying ASOS customers that their parcel is being delivered by electric vehicle.

“We are also supporting Gnewt’s trial of a sophisticated Portering system. This initiative aims to avoid traffic jams and road congestion by making more deliveries with a dedicated team of on-foot Porters. We will continue to work alongside Gnewt to deliver environmentally friendly and efficient methods of moving parcels through our cities.”

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