Derek’s Logistex Adventure

In the last of our special edition anniversary blog posts from our longest serving employees, Derek Kay, Business Development Director, tells us why he has stuck around for so long!

“It was 1991 when I joined Io Systems (Io as in Jupiter’s moon), at that time Io and Cleco were separate private companies prior to the merge and later sale to FKI and the formation of Logistex. I started out as a Software Engineer, brought in at the time to begin the transition from Fortran and VMS to C and Unix. After about 3 more years of working on Fortran and VMS, we started our first projects in C!

Some of the sites I wrote software for are still out there, DHL – Mataro and WH Smith for example, and occasionally I still get an email from the hotline asking if I remember why something was written in the way it was. (I never can).

I’ve been a Software Engineer, Software Team Leader, Project Manager, Resource Manager, Head of Systems and now Business Development Director, all with Logistex, albeit under its earlier incarnations.

I’ve had the opportunity to develop my career and change focus so I’ve never felt the need to look outside of the company and to be honest I’ve worked with such a great group of people over the years I’ve never wanted to.
I can honestly say that I’ve met some of my closest friends here at Logistex and as much as anything they’re the ones who’ve made it enjoyable.”

You can read the story of Logistex’s journey here.

Calvin Davies (Systems Architect) looks back on his time with Logistex

Back to our anniversary blog posts! Calvin Davies looks back on his time with Logistex:

“I have been with the the company for 23 years, although it was a bit different when I joined- I think I was employee number 12 in the family-run IO Systems, in two knocked-together houses in Dunstable, and Cleco was just our biggest customer. Projects were a bit different then, with weeks or months spent on site (Mars and BT stand out for me) – great for building team spirit and camaraderie, not so good for family life. We have it so easy now!

I did once try to leave, in 2001 when my wife got a 2 year job in Chicago, but my boss at the time suggested I had a go at teleworking. Many of us work from home, at least some of the time now (though rarely from 4,000 miles away), but I felt like a bit of a pioneer back then. Hats off to the Cleco IT Department for making it work.

I’ve stuck around since then because Logistex are good people to work with and for. There’s a lot more than 12 of us now, but it still feels like it’s run by people who know what’s going on.”

Read the full story behind Logistex’s growth and success here.

Christmas Jumper Day

Employees at the Kettering Head Office sported their favourite festive knits on Christmas Jumper Day to raise money for Save the Children. Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day raises money to bring essential healthcare, education, protection and food to millions of children around the world who are missing out on these basics.

Here’s a few snaps of our festivities!

 

Christmas Jumper Competition Winner: Jonathan Skelly (Solutions Design Engineer)

Top Tips for Choosing a WMS

James Wilmer, Business Development Manager – Reflex, at Logistex, highlights the main points to consider when choosing a WMS provider.

1: Long term planning.

A WMS is a long-term commitment; as operationally it will fit you and ideally you should fit it, make sure that from the outset you consider your long-term plan. If you are turning over less than a £million and only picking 100 orders per day then you can get away with something pretty basic. If however that is your position but you expect/hope to grow to £10 million and pick 1000 orders per day then your needs for a WMS should reflect that figure.

In simple terms if your future may benefit from automation then it’s probably best to buy a WMS capable of simply linking to that (the best option for this would be a WMS that has an inbuilt WCS which can control and take information from automated components like auto-picking and conveyors). As your daily picks grow the complexity of space and pick routes will grow and some of the lower end systems will not be capable of this.

Always plan for your vision of the future in the WMS you choose.

2: Cost to benefit.

Make sure you understand the real cost to benefit of a system. Ask your chosen WMS providers to illustrate real suggested gains from the system – both current and in your predicted future. All figures you receive from them should be honest and give you insight which will help immensely in your selection.

3: What pedigree does the WMS provider have?

As there are so many WMS providers out there now it’s clear that not all are fit for purpose (I have seen and been told examples of amazing looking systems that have never been implemented in real life before being presented. This used to be called vapourware, however people still do it).

Make sure you get a list of some real businesses that use the WMS and where possible visit at least one of them, although I would suggest a couple. While doing the reference visits make sure you ask the site what they honestly think of the system, including the users. Try not to let the WMS provider direct your questions or the answers, look for an honest answer and integrity.

Case studies are good but remember the business will only ever provide a case study of their successes. Read the news and doing searches to find out as much as you can.

Always do your research.

4: Platform and how does this fit with your IT strategy?

There are advocates of both cloud based or sited WMS systems.

Advocates of sited will tell you cloud based is only as good as your connectivity and that if your external pipe goes down you will be left without operational usage. They will also point to security and the ability for VPN access which will allow users from anywhere to use without having to be hosted externally. You can manage it internally with your own staff and policies.

Advocates of cloud based will tell you it’s cheaper as the storage space can be shared reducing costs, available more easily when out of the office, as well as leaving the responsibility to load patches etc. to someone external to the organisation. They will also point to the speeds available as standard for internet connectivity in many parts of the UK Now.

Both versions are perfectly plausible and I would personally consider your strategy and which would suit you better. I would look at providers from both sides of this if you are unsure and ask for their honest conversation on what the benefits might be for you.

5: What can you afford?

Some providers will have different versions of the software that you can turn on functionality or bespoke elements easily as you grow. This allows the start-up cost to be lower but as soon as you start to have higher needs means it becomes a more expensive system. Ask about upgrade costs, bespoke elements that you may need in the future upfront so you understand the true/ full potential costs. I come across many businesses that buy a very cheap system yet as their needs have slightly changed the system has become the most expensive on the market.

Cheap systems are cheap for a reason. Expensive systems should only be expensive if you are getting value for money. Ask for a full breakdown of why the cost is what it is; for example if you pay £5k for a system and implementation and they say it’s going to take them 100 days to configure implement, train and have go live support then that would mean they are costing their staff at £50 per day and making zero money on the software or anything else, they won’t be in business long. If you pay £100k for a system and they say it’s 200 days it’s much more likely I would believe that or that the company is being honest. Costs will vary whoever you go with depending on your needs but look in to the detail and the man days/ effort they are putting in to it to see if what you are getting is value for money.

If you can only afford a fixed budget be honest with providers from the outset, however make sure you have looked at budget/ reality/ benefit before this stage.

Sometimes if you have no money or a very small amount it would be worth doing a full business/ case review before investigating WMS any further with any provider.

6: Your current systems and interfacing.

It’s very rare that you won’t run multiple other systems throughout your business; for example ERP, Traffic Management, IM, MIS, simple finance, spreadsheets, basic databases, links to shippers etc. They will all manage their part, however some may benefit from linking to the WMS (usually your order system/ finance)

7: What support costs, infrastructure, training and implementation are the WMS provider offering?

Do you own the system after buying it or will it be software as a service? This is your decision and every business has different drivers that you will need to consider carefully. With SAAS you spread the cost over the full life of the product, with up front you will own the software so will only pay ongoing support costs (usually you have the choice on this but is recommended).

Training is key to getting it right. You wouldn’t expect somebody to drive a forklift without the right training, the WMS you go for is the same. Make sure your provider isn’t suggesting only online training or something that you are not happy with. All training should be full and fairly costed.

8: New technologies.

Most systems will work with voice picking, RFI tech etc. However not every business would need or benefit from that technology. Ask the question of your provider if there is potential if you move/ use that technology to integrate now or in the future.

For information on Logistex’s Reflex WMS click here or email enquiries@logistex.com

Kev Bradley (Systems Upgrades & Enhancements Manager) shares the highs and lows of his Logistex journey

“Day one, I arrive at the offices of Io Systems to be greeted by John & Jenny (the directors), Pat the receptionist, Graham Webb (another former employee) and Sam the dog. This is clearly a different environment to my previous job at Citibank, but thankfully much more intimate and friendly.

On day 2 I was taken by John to WM Lighting (latterly GE Lighting). John was in possession of his new-fangled technological marvel, his mobile car phone. This was an early model and weighed approximately two kilos, took a week to recharge, fifteen minutes to discharge and was roughly the side of a breeze block….   Read more

Andy Branch (Engineering Director) tells the story of his journey with Logistex

In the third of our special edition blog posts to celebrate 80 years of technical innovation, Andy Branch reflects on his journey with Logistex:

“I landed at Cleco during a significant period of change. The business was just diversifying from battery powered heavy duty manual truck manufacture into large scale automation projects. There was a general view that automation couldn’t be that difficult, could it? It’s safe to say that the business went through a significant learning curve over the following years. For me this meant opportunity, allowing me to set up a controls team before moving on to running the crane manufacturing team.

Subsequently, FKI purchased Cleco and I took on the challenge of running the Gainsborough conveyor business as well as crane manufacturing. Within FKI Logistex I worked with colleagues in America, Denmark and China, including setting up a joint venture manufacturing facility in Shanghai.

Of course, there were some difficult times towards the end of the FKI era but I stuck with it and am extremely proud of what we have all made of the business in the last seven years.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have been with Logistex for a long time but it does not feel like it. It is never stale and there is always another challenge around the corner. Long may it continue.”

Barry Searcy (Field Service Controller) reminisces on his favourite memories of working with Logistex

In the second of our special edition anniversary blog posts by our longest serving employees, Barry Searcy, who joined the company in 1985, shares his fondest memories of his career so far:

One of my nicest memories of being with the company was travelling out to Holland with Chris Stevenson to install 2 Condor machines in Eindhoven in 1994. When we were removing the tarpaulins from the machines on the back of the lorry trailer, a huge sign with ‘HAPPY 40TH BARRY’ was revealed. This had been placed there by the guys who were loading back at the factory in Market Harborough, in recognition of my 40th birthday.

Working for Logistex has brought me into contact with lots of interesting and friendly colleagues and customers, and over the years this has built into many long term friendships. I have traveled all over the UK and parts of Europe and found the work both varying and interesting.

My first job on the road as a Field Service Engineer, when I joined Cleco in 1985 was a visit to John Lewis in Sheffield, an overnight stop in Sandbach and then a visit to Banbury Tea warehouse in Crewe. I was working and travelling with Neil Chambers on both jobs and I am still working with Neil after all these years.

Happy Anniversary from Pladis

Mike Hellier, Logistics Project Development Manager at our most longstanding partner, Pladis, wishes Logistex a happy 80th anniversary!

“Our many years in successful partnership with Logistex are testament to their good attitude, high performance and excellent quality. Logistex continues to deliver excellent service within a highly demanding and pressurised environment. The team at Logistex continues to demonstrate organisational and personal excellence and I am confident that our partnership will continue for another 25 years. Happy Anniversary Logistex – your people have made you a success”