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How to create an Omnichannel-ready warehouse 19/02/2020

To a modern consumer, the experience of purchasing an item is frequently more important than the product itself. Therefore, consumers are increasingly demanding the convenience, flexibility and speed that omni-channel retailing offers them, in-turn, forcing retailers to respond. Harry Watts, commercial director, SEC Storage offers his analysis.

Shifting to omni-channel is, however, a significant challenge to many businesses, requiring a fundamental redesign of their distribution activities and facilities. At the core of the problem, is the need to create a warehouse that is sophisticated enough to handle the far more complex challenges that omni-channel poses.

Creating fulfilment centre designs that support this strategy is no mean feat, but as warehouse solutions providers, is something we do daily. So in this special edition of H&SS, we’re sharing a five-step SEC guide to successfully creating an omni-channel-ready warehouse.

Step 1 - Map the Strategy

Warehouse design should be around your strategic requirements: not the other way around. Start by defining the service-level you wish to offer and then create a detailed process map for all incoming goods and distribution channels you plan to provide. During this process, identify potential challenges that you will need to overcome to achieve your desired service offering and don't forget about returns!

Step 2 - Embed Data

With the processes mapped, it's now essential to gain a more detailed understanding of the challenges the facility will face, by analysing operational data. In particular, establishing volumetric throughput, as well as picking activity-levels required, will be essential in guiding design. It may be useful at this point to segment your analysis into different channels, where there is a significant difference in how they behave, e.g. retail vs e-commerce.

Step 3 - Determine the Pick-Face/Bulk-Storage Strategy

Generally, 50% of the running costs of a warehouse, and a far higher percentage of the service-level it provides is related to picking activity. Therefore, identifying the correct pick-face and bulk-storage strategy is essential. 

Firstly, familiarise yourself with as many of the vast array of goods-to-picker and picker-to-goods systems available as possible. You'll ordinarily require at least three types of pick-faces: for slow, medium and fast-moving goods. However, in an omni-channel setting, it may be appropriate to introduce multiple pick-faces for the same SKU if one channel behaves differently to another (e.g. Pallet vs Unit-pick). Ultimately though, you need to balance space-utilisation and pick-face size, with the number (and method) of replenishments required, to optimise the ROI.

Step 4 - Internal Movements

Once the storage media has been decided, the next step is to map all movements of stock within the warehouse, selecting appropriate equipment and methodology to carry out the transfer. Mechanical-Handling-Equipment, conveyors or automation may be needed, but in all cases, the warehouse must be designed to handle peak periods. Remember, mechanisation, whilst powerful, also introduces capacity constraints that should be carefully considered.

Step 5 - Digital Strategy 

An omni-channel distribution-centre will be completely reliant on its IT-systems to be successful. You'll already need to have an appropriate order-management system, but integrating the warehouse systems with your processes is critical. 

Don’t let your Warehouse-Management-System (WMS) define your processes. Specify the system requirements in line with the first four steps, and then select a WMS that fits. Often, off-the-shelf products will not carry all the features you require, so consider implementing a bespoke Warehouse-Control-Program that plugs-in to another WMS to offer you required functionality.

Following these five steps will assist in making the transformation to omni-channel all the more smooth and ensure you efficiently manage and meet the growing expectations and demands of your consumers.

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Make sure you win the space race 21/10/2019

Is your warehouse really full? Harry Watts, commercial director at SEC Storage, offers five top tips to increasing capacity in your facility.

A combination of the UK's apparent shortage of available warehouse stock and the potential impact of a hard-Brexit on inventory holding requirements, has led many in the industry to understandably believe that we are currently in the midst of a 'space-crisis'.

However, in my experience, this belief is commonly based upon the overly simplified view that 'occupied square footage' is equivalent to 'being full'.

Traditionally, we consider two potential methods to increase capacity: store less, or take on more space. However, there is a third option - that as an industry, we do not do enough of - which is to utilise better the volume we have.

In the five tips below, we provide some advice on how you can achieve this in your warehouse.

Tip #1: Warehouses are not 2-D - Start by ensuring you have maximised your utilisation of the height of the building. Profile to the roofline, introduce additional pedestrian levels and use unreachable space as mini-bulk locations, to increase both volumetric capacity and selectivity. However, don't stop at three dimensions. The most common mistake in warehouse design is to fail to consider how SKUs perform in relation to time. More than any other factor, throughput over time should be the driver of how, and even if, products are stored.

Tip #2: Ditch Dead Stock - Storage space is not free! Every location has an inherent value, and online marketplaces mean spare capacity can be easily sold. However, the real cost of harbouring unvisited pick-locations is the decreased SKU density, longer pick-walks and associated expenses. By establishing 'cost per location' metrics and creating clearly defined performance indicators, you'll be in a stronger position to periodically purge dead stock!

Tip #3: Think outside the box - Always consider whether your external space could work harder. Temporary buildings and rack-clad extensions can provide additional warehouse space without forcing you to move, and many external storage solutions, such as Vertical-Lift-Modules, can increase overall capacity within relatively small, non-invasive footprints.

Tip #4: Employ Intelligent Solutions – There are a myriad of space saving solutions available, such as shuttle/satellite systems, artificially intelligent robotics and dynamic solutions that can significantly increase storage density without sacrificing performance and if employed correctly, provide rapid return-on-investment.

Tip #5: Fit storage solution to your productsIn an optimal warehouse, the selection of storage media should always balance four key factors: the overall inventory holding, unit-size, hit-rate, and volumetric throughput. In simple terms, SKUs that move in small volumes should be stored in small spaces, and lines that run in large amounts should be stored in large spaces... regardless of whether the product is fast or slow-moving by other metrics! Remember, volumetric capacity is only theoretical… it's your ability to effectively utilise space that matters. Volumetric data is the best way of driving space utilisation, so record it, analyse it and report against it, and let it drive your warehouse design.

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Annual service key to drum handling attachment safety 04/07/2019

It is important that lifting equipment is kept in good working order, and that includes drum handling attachments.

It is recommended in the Health and Safety Executive’s Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998, for the user of lifting equipment to have it inspected by a suitably trained and competent person every 6 – 12 months.

This formal inspection and certification will also enable users to comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and satisfy insurers who require lifting equipment to be routinely inspected and serviced.

St Clare Engineering has been offering an annual service check for all of our products since we started manufacturing the Grab-O-Matic drum handling attachment back in 1959.

In fact some or our equipment has been sent back to us on an annual basis for 30 years or more, showing how beneficial proper preventative maintenance is.

At St Clare Engineering we use top quality British steel to ensure our components won’t fail under normal usage but nothing lasts forever. Therefore our UK customers can return items for us to inspect annually. Our formal inspection involves:

  • Visual inspection – we check for signs of wear and tear and weld cracks
  • Drum test – we put the item through a practical drum lift test
  • Pull test – mechanical load testing

If we find any part of one of our attachments showing the signs of wear and tear that will affect the safe operation, the part is repaired or replaced. We then return the item with a test certificate, as proof that you’ve complied with the regulations.

St Clare Engineering Ltd is a family business, manufacturing a range of specialist, high-quality fork lift truck drum handling attachments under the Grab-O-Matic trade name at our factory in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Andy Bow, St Clare Engineering

02380 643402
sales@stclare-engineering.co.uk
www.stclare-engineering.co.uk

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Fatigue: Talk listen and act 18/06/2019

Talking about driver fatigue is still very much a taboo subject but it starting to be taken more seriously by an increasing number of fleet operators. Unfortunately, this is a subject that sits on the periphery of managing road risk for a lot of fleet operators.

The main problem is that 79%* of drivers do not believe their employer understands the dangers of driving while fatigued and 65%* of drivers do not believe their employer would listen if they complained about suffering from fatigue.

This is quite shocking given that 83%* of drivers admit to driving while fatigued and more than 50%* of drivers admit to fighting fatigue and continue driving to complete their journeys.

Therefore, fleet operators need to embed a culture of ‘It’s good to talk’ to encourage their drivers to open up and be honest about the condition they suffer with. However, more importantly employers and fleet operators need to ‘listen and act’ upon what their drivers are telling them.

In order to manage driver fatigue effectively, fleet operators need to understand what it is and its cause. Unfortunately, there are a number of questions that need answering to understand it and without listening to what their drivers say, then fleet operators will have great difficulty putting into place the correct monitoring systems, processes and procedures.   

Therefore, the questions that need answering are: 

What is fatigue? It is not a specific medical condition but a symptom of numerous conditions that cause a state of impairment that can include physical and/or mental elements. 

How does fatigue manifest itself? It can be acute and accumulate after a short period on a demanding task or it can be cumulative and build up over successive shifts or long periods of intense pressure.  

What are the results of fatigue? Fatigue is associated with lower alertness and reduced performance, thereby making individuals less able to self-assess how impaired they are as they become more fatigued. Ultimately, making the individual unfit to drive. 

Now the above questions have been answered, the next question to ask is: 

What actually is driver fatigue? It is a driver who becomes tired due to driving long hours, long distances and/or monotonous journeys. This could be due to poor journey planning with no account for rest breaks, poor time management with unrealistic appointments/delivery slots, desensitisation on regular routes, just wanting to get the job done and get home and a lack of contingency planning for when things go wrong.

However, under no circumstances should anyone be mistaken that the above are the only causes of driver fatigue. A driver can suffer with fatigue even without driving due to external personal and/or vocational circumstances, thereby they are unfit to drive even before driving.  

Fatigue could be identified if a driver shows any of the following telltale signs: Mood changes, communication difficulties, difficulty concentrating, easily distracted, reduced attention, decreased vigilance, difficulty processing information, reduced short-term memory, slowed performance, increased errors, reduced physical strength, ‘Tunnel vision’ or microsleeps.

Fleet operators need to implement robust measures to identify, educate and support their drivers. There are numerous processes and procedures that they can implement to manage driver fatigue effectively to counteract the aforementioned issues. These measures should be detailed in a specific Managing Driver Fatigue policy. 

More importantly, employers and employees need to have better engagement and channels of communication with self-reporting being encouraged. It is vitally important to realise that everyone is different and react in different ways, so do not ignore or dismiss what a driver says as just moaning about the job. 

Therefore, make sure that all employees are made aware that it is good to talk about fatigue but it is more important that employers listen and act upon what their drivers tell them. Failure to listen and act now could be catastrophic for the fleet operator, the driver, their family and other roads users and their families. 

* Source – Fatigue Management International

Author: Andrew Drewary FCILT MAIRSO AMRSGB
Road Safety Consultant - Road Safety Smart
andrew@roadsafetysmart.co.uk
www.roadsafetysmart.co.uk

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£2.3m fine but will it really make any difference? 03/12/2018

Will Tuesday 27th November 2018 be the day that makes the commercial vehicle industry sit up, take stock of itself and admit, that it finally needs to learn from the very important lessons it has been ignoring for far too long.

This day brought to a conclusion the criminal aspect of the terrible events that unfolded in Coventry on Saturday 3rd October 2015, when a 7 years old boy and 76 years old woman were killed by a double decker bus which was being driven by a 77 years old driver, who we all now know, was not fit to be driving his vehicle. 

Does this sound familiar? It should do because it is very similar to the scenario of the Glasgow bin lorry incident on 22nd December 2014, were the driver in that incident was also not fit to be driving his vehicle. 

However, there is one major issue that differentiates the two incidents. In the Glasgow incident, the driver’s employer Glasgow City Council, did not know the driver had a historic medical condition that should have prevented from driving because he had failed to notify them. Whereas, in the Coventry incident, the driver’s employers Midland Red, knew the driver was unfit to drive that day. 

How did the employer know this? This was because his driving records showed he had worked for more than 70 hours in the week leading up the fatal incident. Therefore, he would clearly be suffering with fatigue but the employer still asked the driver continue driving, due to business needs.

In addition, the employer knew the driver was ‘high risk’ but they chose to ignore the data they had. This included: 

  • The driver had been warned four times about his "erratic" driving by his employer after four crashes in the previous three years.
  • The driver had been subject of eight warning letters about his driving for harsh braking, acceleration and speeding all triggered by a telematics system installed in 2014.
  • The driver had a practical independent driving assessment seven months before the incident. The instructor who conducted the assessment said the journey was "uncomfortable and erratic". He concluded that the driver "would not have been good enough" to pass an initial training driving test. 

Despite knowing this information, the employer:

  • Allowed the driver to miss a ‘1-2-1’ meeting about his driving standards because they needed him to be out driving. 
  • Did not monitor the driver’s telematics data properly, thereby knowingly putting passengers and other roads as risk.
  • Allowed the driver to continue driving until the fatal incident.

Despite the obvious information telematics data provides about the way a vehicle is being driven, telematics is a vitally important tool that can help identify fatigue and other medical conditions that affects the driver’s ability to drive and control their vehicle properly and safely.

Now we reach the crux of the matter. Telematics provides masses of data about every driver in a fleet but the data needs to managed and has to be acted upon and employers need to start asking the awkward questions about their drivers’ health and ability to drive.  

Unfortunately for the employer, just ignoring the data or not having the time to deal with it is no defence. 

So, the question that all employers who run a fleet of vehicles is: “Will a £2.3m fine make you change the way you manage the drivers of your fleet?” 

If it does, then this will be a defining moment. However, it will not be easy and will not happen overnight but the industry will finally show that it is prepared to learn its lessons. Most importantly, it will show that it values the lives all road users and its drivers ahead of profit.

Only time will tell!!

Author:

Andrew Drewary FCILT  MAIRSO  AMRSGB
Road Safety Smart
07817 043821
andrew@roadsafetysmart.co.uk 

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'Mission Possible' on safe storage 22/10/2018

Speakers at The Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association Annual Conference and Exhibition Storage Safety Conference on 1st November at the National Motorcycle Museum Solihull explain why attendance is a must.

“Our proactive health and safety interventions focus on risk-based topics, RIDDOR notifications and investigations into H & S concerns. Examples include; unprotected edges on storage mezzanines, unsuitable access equipment and defective ladders. We take proportionate action, regardless of incident. Many smaller businesses don’t know how to manage work at height, have insufficient control measures in place and fail to appreciate that cutting corners doesn’t pay.”

Terry Mallard, Health and Safety Inspector, Birmingham City Council 

“One in five people of working age is either experiencing mental anxiety or work-related stress. Thirty years of technological advances have created incompatibility between people and processes. No firm is too small or too big to protect employees from stress at work. Our top 100 companies all actively promote health and well-being among their employees. The result makes people more productive. Managing mental health is doable if you build processes around people.”

Peter Kelly, Senior Psychologist, HSE 

 “Does CDM applies to your project? Revised 2015 CDM regulations offer a blueprint for project safety but compliance can be complex. Referencing racking installations as an example, I’ll clarify how H&S is an integral project element and how investing in the right support on client responsibilities, design and installation is the right commercial decision.”

Allan Ridout, Environment, Health and Safety Manager Malone Group 

“An FLT-related accident left me as an above the knee amputee 12 years ago. My misfortune has inflicted a life-changing aftermath upon my family and son. Yes, poor warehouse layout created that unsafe environment. But every single employee must show vigilance in the workplace and has a duty to report or act where they see fit.”

Lisa Ramos (and David Garton), Health and Safety Impact Speakers 

“The HSE recognises forklifts as the most dangerous form of workplace transport, yet the forklift ‘licence’, which many regard as the benchmark for safe operation, is actually a myth. Before letting anyone loose on your expensive truck, stock and racking, take these simple steps. Check for a certificate of accredited training, assess their skills and ensure they’ve received basic, job specific and familiarisation training as per the ACOP.” 

Stuart Taylor, MD, Mentor FLT Training

“Underpinning any concept of a ‘cradle-to-grave’ safety plan there is usually a code, a standard or a precise structure or blueprint. SEMA’s mantra for addressing this matter in the storage industry is a set of codes for the design, installation, use and inspection of the equipment supported by a suite of initiatives, training and qualifications. We help businesses practise what we preach.” 

Alan Worrell, SEMA Technical Committee

The SEMA Distributor Group (SDG) operates the only scheme in the UK that audits the competence of our resellers and distributors. We help you manage your risk, by ensuring that storage systems are designed in accordance with the latest SEMA standards, are fit for purpose and installed safely.  Why take the risk of using a supplier or reseller that isn’t regulated or audited? Contact a SEMA Distributor Company.

Simon King, Former Chair, SEMA Distributor Group

“21st century leaders need to do more than heap safety rules to people. They must coach, mentor and facilitate and improve their workforce. Success comes through common goals, making better decisions quicker and taking effective action faster. Always refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”

Neil Sheehan, former Senior Safety Manager (Construction & Property) ASDA                     

‘Since the CMF launched its safety training initiative in 2003, RIDDOR notifications among its 120 members have dropped by 77%. Leadership in safety training is more about using “the carrot not the stick”. Rather than a heavy-handed top town approach, employers must bring to life the implications of, say, not wearing safety goggles or the wrong footwear. We recommend personal approaches such as “You do want to see your son/daughter walk down the aisle don’t you?” They work! 

Richard Heath, Safety Advisor, Cast Metals Federation 

“Investment in storage safety is a sound commercial decision and well within reach when you follow best practice. New tougher Health & Safety Legislation has led to a sharp increase in penalties paid by UK firms. 2016 saw 292 fines issued, a 148% increase on 2015. Our nine speakers with wide ranging backgrounds break new ground covering issues such as mental health, 21st century leadership, and real-life case studies. These examples bring home the diverse responsibilities of safe storage management.”

Jaap Vos, President of SEMA

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Don’t ditch the plastic! 11/09/2018

Jim Hardisty, managing director of Goplasticpallets.com speaks out about his concern over the media attacks on plastic and why he feels more needs to be done to regain public confidence in plastic.

Since Blue Planet II aired last November exposing the destructive effect plastic pollution is having on our oceans, negative coverage and misinformed commentary about plastic has dominated the mass media.

This anti-plastic rhetoric running through the media and abundance of ‘ditch the plastic’ and ‘plastic free’ campaigns has completely crowded out the important role plastic plays in our everyday life.

And most infuriating of all is that many of these campaigns do little to distinguish between good ‘reusable’ and bad ‘single-use’ plastic.

I look at these campaigns and always wonder why are they not specific? And why don’t they refer to single-use plastic? After all, these campaigns were created using plastic computers, and watched on plastic tablets or mobiles – and probably funded using a plastic credit card on a plastic card machine!

If you look around you, in your home, in your car, on your desk – so many everyday long lasting and essential items are produced from plastic and do an excellent job over the long term. Plastic has powerful sustainability credentials thanks to its low-carbon impact in manufacturing, light weight and recyclability.

Here at Goplasticpallets.com we recycle every piece of plastic, paper, card, glass and tin we use – at our own expense.

For our clients, we are an Approved Exporter of plastic waste, so that when they no longer have a need for their plastic pallets or boxes, we’re able to return them to our factory in Belgium, where they’ll be reground, and made into more sustainable plastic pallets.

We’re extremely proud of the plastic products we supply. Products that have a long lifecycle and last many more times over than wood or cardboard, saving trees along the way. We’re also proud that we’re helping the environment by collecting products back at the end of their long use, then sending them to be professionally recycled, so they don’t end up in landfill.

I’m all for campaigns that encourage businesses and consumers to cut down on single-use plastic, and for the collaborative efforts that organisations, schools and the general public are making to help clear our beaches and streets of plastic waste. But plastic packaging does not find its way into our oceans on its own. The UK may only be responsible for 0.2% of ocean waste – this is a global problem – but we all need to take more responsibility for our own litter and recycle more.

What’s certain is that something needs to be done to regain public confidence in plastic and promote all the positives it offers as a sustainable packaging material.

So rather than further tarnish the reputation of plastic with campaigns that suggest all plastic is ‘bad’, let’s have a balanced campaign against irresponsible people dropping rubbish, and against single-use plastic. Let’s also remember all the actual benefits of plastic as a material of our time!

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The way of the SARI 16/08/2018

Mike Vaughan is a fully qualified SEMA Approved Racking Inspector (SARI) and he says most businesses need educating on rack safety.

Sadly, SARI inspections lead us to believe that too many businesses (up to 90% perhaps) are totally unaware of the potential consequences of poor rack maintenance. There are three cardinal sins which are seen repeatedly.

First, the term “Adjustable” Pallet Racking can only stretch so far! Before changing the physical configuration of racking, to ensure continued compliance, the owner must consult with the manufacturer or supplier to check that the new load capacity still meets within the original design. Then there’s the “unmanaged” warehouse where all sorts of perils lurk unheeded. Thirdly, seriously deformed uprights and beams can remain un-repaired or replaced for far too long.

The golden rule is that inspection is not a substitute for deficient, defective or absent specification, design, installation, training, operation or maintenance. SEMA states its purpose is to:

  • To satisfy legal requirements to provide a safe place of work and to ensure that work equipment is suitable, as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
  • To check the condition of equipment for health and safety reasons as part of a regular inspection regime. Following on from this further work may be needed to quantify any necessary repair works.
  • To verify the equipment has been installed and maintained to a particular specification or standard. 
  • Three levels of inspection
  • There should be three levels, usually referred to as immediate (daily), regular (weekly) and the expert (usually annual) inspection which is where the SARI’s role comes into play.  

SARIs conduct two very different types of inspection. A damage only inspection provides a list of damaged items and their location. It’s OK as far as it goes whereas a full SARI report, offers far more. It will check immediate and regular scrutiny is being carried out; identify/check rack configuration, type and manufacturer and a general identification of components including a check of the accuracy of load notices. It gives classified results and confirms that damaged components are being replaced. It also will identify repetitive damage and propose future solutions/modifications. Vitally, it will notify of any Red Risks present as classified by SEMA’s unique traffic light risk categories which have been established for almost 40 years now and adopted largely worldwide.

In preparation, the following are useful tips , e.g. it’s a visual inspection from ground level so WAH (work at height) shouldn’t be necessary and  cluttered aisles make any sort of inspection difficult! I use simple measuring equipment, work in a logical, systematic way, carry out the inspection at a slow walking pace and record the results. 

I recommend that warehouse management teams appoint a Person Responsible for Racking Safety to ensure safe operation of the warehouse storage system, establish firm routines of rack inspection and maintenance records. The warehouse team need to be able to analyse damage data, identify trends, propose/implement action and, most importantly, have the authority to implement action. 

Commercially speaking, I say that small defects left unrepaired, may lead to higher costs or perhaps serious accidents over time. All staff need to accept a collective responsibility for taking due care. Keep it simple but reporting promptly should follow documented procedures and actions recorded.

A pallet racking system looks robust, but it’s basically a skeleton (usually designed by a structural engineer) and its structural rigidity is calculated to meet precise design criteria under specified conditions. To bear heavy loads, it must have strong joints and be securely anchored to a solid floor. Once loaded, the rack or its components should not distort. On a daily basis, a rack is often subjected to harsh treatment e.g. impacts, forces, poor placement of pallets and often minor collisions inflicted by Fork Lift Trucks so it’s hardly surprising that the once fit-for-purpose, carefully designed, heavy duty rack does not remain indefinitely in factory or as-built condition. It can begin to distort out of shape which will have an effect on its robustness, components may come loose, and the rack can fall into disrepair, compromising safety.

SEMA recommends that a risk assessment and method statement for inspection is incorporated into company procedure. SEMA’s Code of Practice for the Use of Static Racking (free download available from the SEMA web site) and the new SEMA Guide to the Conduct of Racking and Shelving Inspections both have useful advice.

The SARI Qualification is for professionals with inspection experience and who are ideally qualified to HND/degree level. It’s a three-day intensive course validated by written examination and practical assessment and requires evidence of commitment to on-going CPD (Continuous Professional Development). Only then can the SARI logo be displayed. 

Mike has over three decades of sector experience in manufacture and distribution. He is one of 120 fully SEMA qualified SARIs across the UK conducting racking condition assessments, reports and recommendations so that storage facilities warehouses and other places of employment can operate as safe environments.

sema.org.uk

0121 6016359

SEMA’s traffic light system categorises rack damage

Red Risk

Areas where a high level of damage is identified over twice the SEMA limits. This warrants immediate offloading and isolation until repair work is carried out. 

Amber Risk

Areas where the damage identified is greater than the SEMA limits. This warrants remedial work to be carried out. However, the damage is not sufficiently severe to warrant immediate offloading of the area. No additional loads shall be placed in the affected area and once the pallet positions in this area are emptied they should not be refilled until repairs are carried out. If repairs are not effected in 4 weeks an Amber risk item automatically becomes a Red risk item.

Green Risk

Areas where damage is present, however the level of damage is within the SEMA limits and should be recorded for further consideration at the next inspection. See our blog our blog at https://www.hsssearch.co.uk/page_895747.asp

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What is 2018 going to bring? 04/12/2017

It’s the time of the year to make some predictions for 2018.

As I sit here looking into my glass ball, I honestly wonder if there has ever been a time characterised by more uncertainty.  The geo-political situation seems to be so fragile, with Brexit, North Korea, the USA and Russia, all seemingly being sources of concern and confusion. 

As things stand we don’t know what the UK’s situation will soon be with regard to customs, immigration, and the Irish border  - all huge issues for anyone working in the UK Logistics Sector.

But putting those macro issues to one side – what should we expect in 2018?

Customer expectations are changing.  There is no doubt about that.  How long will we go on having a High Street with retail outlets?  This Christmas period, more parcels than ever before will be delivered direct to domestic addresses and the trend is only going to continue.  I wonder how long it will be before the only retailers on the High Street are coffee shops.  This has huge implications for us.  We effectively become part of a huge kitchen larder.  People don’t keep or store things (food and non) at home, they can get it delivered the next day with zero hassle and often zero cost.  Warehouses move from being a place where produce is kept, becoming instead a shop visited by virtual customers. 

Data management.  Some people still think of logistics as lifting and moving.  More and more we will be managers of data.  Our processes, people and training will reflect this.

Transport. This is a big one.  Trucks are still the main way that goods are moved around the country.  But will 2018 be the year when drones and driverless vehicles really take off?  Eventually there will be a shift in how we move things, but maybe not as soon as some think.  

Energy Sources.  Traditional sources of energy are becoming prohibitively expensive – if they haven’t always been.  This is what will drive the change and conversion to renewables and electric vehicles.  2018 may well be the year of a fast forward on moving away from diesel and fossil fuels.  With more electric vehicles coming to market, expect better products and cheaper prices.

And England will go out of the World Cup on penalties.

Happy New Year!

David Coombes, Founder and Managing Director of Logistics Job Shop

Follow David on Twitter @DavidCoombesSfL

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Lessons from the White House. Can anyone be the wrong recruit after ten days in post? 08/08/2017

Let’s be honest. Ten days is no time at all. It makes Brian Clough’s tenure at Leeds seem positively epic in comparison.

But I am certain that most of us have known after ten days that we are either in the wrong job or that we have appointed the wrong person (Anthony Scaramucci, White House Communications Director, was fired by President Donald Trump after 10 days). Realistically, maybe even a week is long enough to get that gut feel. There is much to be said for managing decisively and for backing your judgment with action, but many a cautionary tale around being too hasty. Rarely in my experience however,  do things improve on their own, and once you’ve made a decision about someone it’s very hard for them to change that opinion. Instead, everything they do seems to be more evidence to support your prior judgment.

Of course, some staff take time to settle and to really find their feet, but in senior appointments, where chemistry and ‘fit’ are so crucial, that gut feel is particularly important.

This is why I believe it’s important to think outside the box when recruiting for senior appointments. You have to think less about the person you are looking for, and more about their skills or characteristics you value. Worry less about them looking the way you do (recruiting in your own image is a real challenge we face in our sector), but spend time understanding the challenges your business faces and start to think of the solutions. Maybe even tell the candidate what concerns you and ask them to present how they would deal with your issues.

The more I see this recruitment process, the more I realise that it is not a tick box exercise. Employers spend time with their workers, they have to like them and respect them or it just won’t work or last. Great teams are exactly that – teams. Collections of individuals who can work together for the common goal. We don’t have to look alike, but we all have to contribute. When you are hiring, take time to think about the gaps you have, the challenges you face and put the ball in the candidate’s court. What would they do in that situation? 

In recruitment perhaps more than anything else: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

David Coombes, Founder and Managing Director of Logistics Job Shop

Follow David on Twitter @DavidCoombesSfL

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In the HSS Guest Blog we invite thought provoking comment on logistics and materials handling.