Category Archives: Projects

The Golden Quarter

Logistex’s General Manager – Engineering Support Services discusses the challenges of preparing for peak…

The Golden quarter, also known as ‘Peak’ is for many retailers the most important and most challenging time of the year. Many spend the first 9 months of the year just building up and preparing for this period.

So why is it such a challenge?

Stock holding

The aim of the game is to sell as many items of stock as possible, but of course when you have a sudden spike for demand, you have to ensure you have the right stock with the right sizes and colours available when the demand hits, otherwise you will be letting your customers down at a critical time which they unfortunately do not forget!

What does this actually mean? Well, for example, an average retailer’s distribution centre may hold around 5 million ‘items’ of stock on any normal day. Given that they may roughly require a further 40% stock holding for the peak period alone, they have to find space and process for a further 2 million items!

Resource

Given the above, you then need to be able to increase your staff holding by a similar % in a short space of time. Imagine taking on a few hundred extra staff that all need an induction and training on process, not just for the normal operating way but for peak challenging ways!

Equipment/Automation

To be able to cope with the ever growing demand on retailers, following the expectations of us the consumers wanting their items straight away, Automation is pretty much a necessity. But, if there is ever a time that equipment failure hurts you the most, it has to be peak! Potentially thousands of customer orders, and hundreds of staff stood around waiting for the magic green button to be pushed again to get the system back running following Engineer’s resolution.

It’s so critical that all equipment is in its prime condition ready to cope with the demands put on it through this period. Servicing and repairs, although they may cause inconvenience during other times, it’s certainly the better trade off than unexpected down time during the busiest time of the year!

Engineering

All eyes on you! Imagine the occurrence of a site stood still due to an unexpected breakdown, hundreds of eyes watching and an ever growing number of managers stood over your shoulder asking how long?!

This is a time when all that experience pays off, you have to be calm, be able to communicate under pressure whilst trying to solve the issue at hand.

A lot of the time Engineering is seen as the necessary evil, but they generally can be the unsung heroes!

Operations

If the stock holding is correct, you have the right resource in place and the Automation runs as you would hope, operations still have to conduct small miracles every day throughout and leading up to this quarter to ensure the customers’ needs are met.

I’ve only given rough estimates of figures during this blog down to my own experiences, but to finalise….

We wouldn’t have it any other way! The golden quarter, although the most challenging time for retailers, let’s not forget how magical a time it is!

So my final points would be to stock up, resource up and look after your assets, then enjoy the ride and take satisfaction in knowing you have delivered millions of smiles on Christmas day!!!

Ansell Lighting improves warehouse efficiency with Reflex!

Logistex has installed its innovative warehouse management system, LWS Reflex, at Ansell Lighting’s warehouse operations in Warrington and Belfast. LWS Reflex controls the receiving and putaway, replenishment, picking, packing and despatch operations. Since Go Live the operation has achieved significant efficiency gains. Check out the video of the facility in action here: https://youtu.be/6BJPlbiA4pA 

LWS Reflex logo

 

 

Pharmacy2U and Logistex Win Top Prize at The Logistics Awards!

We’re thrilled that Pharmacy2U and Logistex won not one, but two awards last night at the prestigious Logistics Awards. Pharmacy2U and Logistex scooped up trophies for best ‘New Facility’ and ‘Overall Winner’ for the night. A huge congratulations to the whole team who made this groundbreaking new facility possible. You can watch a video of the evening and see the team collecting their awards here. 

You can also see a video of Pharmacy2U’s dispensing and warehouse system in action here.

Justin Saw (Logistex) and Naila Dad (Pharmacy2U) with the New Facility award

Justin Saw (Logistex) and Naila Dad (Pharmacy2U) with the New Facility award

HSS Magazine gets a tour of QUIZ Clothing’s Bellshill distribution centre

HSS editor Simon Duddy took a trip up to the QUIZ distribution centre in Bellshill, Scotland, where he met with Distribution Centre Manager Allan More to talk about how Logistex helped QUIZ Clothing to implement a leading edge approach to logistics.

“Logistex had worked with other fast fashion groups and had knowledge of how we wanted to operate. Its WMS system was tailor-made for what we wanted to achieve. It is very important to state that we weren’t led by the system, it was vital that the technology and equipment would adapt to our model. We demand flexibility from all our solutions partners and Logistex was very forthcoming on that.

With Logistex, we created a solution so this warehouse could handle all processes all the time. We could move labour around and carry out processes simultaneously. That was one of the key drivers – we need to be able to fulfil every channel as demand requires.”

Read the full article on the Handling and Storage Solutions website.

QUIZ warehouse

New sortation solution at Clipper Logistics

Logistex has designed and installed a sortation solution for Clipper’s latest facility located at the M1 Junction 15 near Northampton. The sorter was designed, manufactured, installed, commissioned and operational within 6 months of contract signature – that’s about half the time normally associated with this type of system!

Clipper’s Head of Solutions said:  “I am sure we will work together on future projects based on the experience we have had on this project. The support and, perhaps more importantly, the communication has been excellent. The integrity and honesty of the team at Logistex has impressed me a great deal.”  Read more here.

 

 

The true cost of maintenance

Automation systems in the warehouse and distribution sectors are becoming commonplace as companies compete on service and cost. With consumer expectations for speedy delivery times at an all-time high, automation delivers the benefits of being able to control, process, track and manage stock in real time. It reduces labour costs whilst increasing efficiency and accuracy. Having invested in automation to realise these benefits, a company needs to protect that investment so that the system continues to deliver over many years with minimal disruption. This is the responsibility of engineering maintenance. But what is the true cost of this maintenance? Dave Acton, General Manager for Engineering Support Services at Logistex, discusses the cost versus value of out-sourcing the maintenance of the operation.

When a company that already has its own in-house maintenance team thinks about whether outsourcing is viable, the first thing that comes into mind is usually the cost, and in particular, that it will cost more.  This is actually usually not the case when the true cost of the in-house team is considered.

The costs of running the in-house team spread beyond the obvious of the team salaries.  There are many costs that are hidden such as: management costs, HR costs, payroll processing costs, sick cover, paying overtime for holiday cover or temporary labour, pension costs, training and development costs, maybe additional services are being engaged because the in-house team doesn’t have the skills, the costs of processing the procurement and payment of spares.  One hidden cost that is often overlooked is what it actually costs the company if production is lost.  If we consider value rather than costs then the outsourced engineering support provider often delivers additional value that makes cost less relevant.  It is wrong to think that by outsourcing the in-house maintenance team you are simply passing your team on to another company that will then want to make a profit on it.  When you engage an outsource provider you are really engaging the support of their whole organisation. This gives you access to their more extensive capabilities and competencies in the area of engineering maintenance. It gives you access to more resources and more skills.  Because of their economies of scale and the flexibility that the provider has, it also means you get opportunities to do the work differently.  A reorganisation of how the work is done and when it is done becomes possible.  Savings can be realised through this which might involve a combination of on-site and visiting engineering teams to minimise cost and deliver maximised service delivery at the time it is needed.  You don’t have to have a fixed level of resource on site all year round.

Another aspect of cost concern is often the spares that will be used.  Again it is seen as another aspect that profit will be added.  In reality it is more likely that the amount of money spent on spares does not suffer greatly.  The better supplier discounts that the outsource provider has, because of the economies of scale of their wider business, usually means that the cost of spares can actually reduce overall.

Then of course there is the effect of competition.  In-house maintenance teams seldom have any real competition and so it is difficult for a company to understand whether they are getting value for money or not.  Where support is outsourced it will usually be done on a term basis of three or more years.  This introduces the natural check at the anniversary as cost benchmarking can be done between suppliers.

Another approach to concerns over cost can be to let the contract on an Open Book basis.  In this way the underlying costs are visible to the company and the agreed profit level is set with the engineering support provider up front.  The major disadvantage of this is the cost risk is actually carried by the company not the provider.  Open Book usually means transparency of costs therefore if the costs are incurred then the company is responsible for paying them. The provider is therefore really only responsible for the management of the service.  So an Open Book contract usually means more risk for the company whereby in a Closed Book contract the provider carries more risk.

There is a lot to be said about sticking to what you are good at. Several aspects are at play that affect a company’s ability to maintain their automated system themselves, e.g. responsibility, resources, expertise, protecting the investment and not least the cost. A well outsourced Engineering Support Service solution can create savings, improve the service delivery, reduce risk, and make life easier – the company can then focus on its core business.

Read Dave Acton’s full white paper, ‘Engineering Maintenance: In-house or Outsource?’ here.

Scorecard

250,000th order processed after just under 3 months!

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After under 3 months of operation the Superdrug DC has just processed its quarter of a millionth order through the automated system designed & installed by Logistex!

Congratulations to the operations team!