The muscle behind Britain’s wholesalers The warehouse and logistics industry keeps on rolling

The warehouse and logistics industry is continually evolving its offering in terms of equipment and services to enable UK delivered wholesalers and cash & carries to succeed in today’s commercial environment, both inside their operations and on the road.

In this feature we hear about Best Food Logistics’ aim to be the best in food service logistics and former CBI Director Lord Digby Jones’ role as chairman of suppiy chain specialist OnLogistics. In equipment news we cover Loadhog’s RTP solution for sportswear retailer Decathlon, Goplasticpallets’ alternative to wooden pallets for Steve Rimmer Eggs and load retention advice with Kite Packaging. Finally, we look at Nestlé’s digital warehouse of the future at SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park in Leicestershire, UK. The facility will be occupied predominantly by Nestlé for its consumer packaged goods and will function as a testbed environment for XPO technology prototypes prior to global release.

Bidvest Logistics recently changed its name to Best Food Logistics in its mission to be the best food service contract logistics provider in the industry. The new name and logo has been introduced across the business on the corporate website, uniforms, and depot signage.

Paul Whyte of Best Food Logistics explains: “Best Food Logistics is a natural evolution from our old brand name, creatively dropping the ‘idv’ from Bidvest to leave us with Best. It allows us to be playful with the re-brand and communicate our friendly and straightforward approach. And not only have we shortened our name, we’re shortening our response times, with our new real-time customer service portal.”

Best Food Logistics recently agreed new long-term contracts with various well-known brands including Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, ASK Italian, Zizzi and notably, KFC. Best Food Logistics is now working on a number of exciting opportunities with other restaurant chains.

In another third party logistics story, OnLogistics, the Tamworth-based logistics firm chaired by Lord Digby Jones, former Director-General of the CBI from 2000-2006, is expanding a number of its divisions including its Distribution arm, which services wholesale customers, among others, after investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

OnLogistics is hiring 14 more employees across its two Midlands sites after taking occupancy of a new 20,000 sq. ft. facility at Elmdon Trading Estate, strategically creating a second base close to Birmingham International Airport. In recent years OnLogistics has diversified its supply chain offering to include warehousing, product packaging and distribution.

This latest round of finance will see the rapidly growing firm make a series of improvements to its distribution service, upgrading its IT systems to unlock further efficiency through order barcoding, electronic tagging and satellite tracking of vehicles. The funding will also allow OnLogistics to roll out inhouse developed technology that integrates with its customers’ ecommerce platforms, as well as develop next-generation packaging.

Specialist packaging and pallets are key elements in the movement of goods in wholesale supply chains, and businesses come to depend on their suppliers and look to them for advice.

A case in point, Loadhog, the packaging innovator, is actively establishing close partnerships with companies to encourage them to swap one-trip packaging for reusable products. This has resulted in productive associations with companies such as sports retailer Decathlon, enabling Loadhog to achieve a record £9.6m turnover, representing 26.6% growth, in 2017.

Decathlon was already using RTP systems but wanted to extend its efforts to decrease packaging waste whilst increasing the performance of its packaging solutions. With Loadhog’s support Decathlon swapped its old broken collapsible containers for Loadhog’s version, of innovative, sturdy design and manufactured using recycled material, with no adverse effects on performance. The resulting product is able to withstand the harsh environments of Decathlon’s distribution centres and speed its picking processes.

With the market’s increasing interest in greener supply chain solutions, Loadhog, a member of the British Plastics Federation, is dedicated to supporting the worldwide campaign to reduce plastic waste. The company is currently using 50% recycled plastic, using recycled plastic scrap generated in the factory or by external partners.

Loadhog general manager Shaun Khan says: “There is increased awareness of plastic pollution and much interest from high investing key companies, particularly from the postal, retail and automotive sectors. These factors are no doubt responsible for our growth.

“We actively encourage companies to recycle their containers with our swapout scheme and invest in recycled material through innovation and the redesign of returnable packaging with no adverse effects on performance, ergonomics and aesthetics. Returnable packaging is certainly a growing and hugely valuable market which we will continue to support.”

Staying with specialist packaging and pallets, transporting fragile food items safely can be a challenge at the best of times but Steven Rimmer Eggs has cracked the problem thanks to the plastic pallets supplied by Goplasticpallets.com. Each week Steven Rimmer Eggs delivers 65,000 weightgraded, quality checked eggs direct from the farm in its refrigerated delivery vans throughout Southport, Merseyside and West Lancashire. Looking for a more hygienic and lighter weight alternative to his existing wooden pallets, company boss Steven Rimmer approached Goplasticpallets.com with a specific request.

Steven was quite specific; he was looking for a 5 or 6 runner plastic pallet that could be loaded easily by forklift onto his delivery vans, which are each fitted with a pallet roller system. And, most importantly he needed an anti-slip solution to ensure his fragile cargo would be delivered crack-free.

The product Goplasticpallets.com recommended was its popular APB1210 Pool Perforated 5R pallet, supplied without lips and with anti-slip strips to provide extra stability for the loaded eggs in transit. Steven Rimmer Eggs purchased 10 of the plastic pallets with specialist anti-slip strips, which Goplasticpallets.com branded with the company logo.

Steven added: “I’m delighted with my new slip-resistant pallets. They work seamlessly with my roller system on the vans. I use four pallets at any one time, and each pallet can carry 18 boxes with 360 eggs in a box. The other six pallets remain on the farm ready to be loaded on my return for the next delivery.”

Disregard for health and safety in the securing of freight and palletised goods can lead to harsh penalties. Companies can lose their Vehicle Operator Licences and face prosecution by HSE, and even be charged with corporate manslaughter if a fatality occurs. Having consistent, reliable practice in place to maximise the securing of freight and other palletised goods can prevent negligence and penalties.

Failing to adopt correct load retention measures also often means a costly clean-up operation, stock loss, re-delivery and customer dissatisfaction, which inevitably results in a damaged brand reputation.

Businesses should also be mindful of the ’Roadworthiness Package’ legislation, which came into play this year. The May 2018 legal requirement outlines the worldwide rules for ensuring that packages and unit loads are suitably secured on vehicles to withstand adverse transport conditions. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) advises the high possibility of Europe-wide vehicle load securing inspections at roadside checks.

Kite Packaging’s load retention experts help educate and inform customers about the legal requirements and offer support to ensure they are being met.

Kite advises businesses to carry out audits to reinforce ultra-safe packing and ensure the ultimate security of palletised operations. Companies should assess and test film quality and performance in a variety of ways and work with specialist teams of stretch film engineers to carry out these scientific audits.

The first audit to consider is the manual pull plate test, which looks at how much force is required to pull a circular disc from inside the film on the pallet to measure the security. Another element is the electronic force/puncture test, which measures the force of the film with electronic pressure pads at the top, middle and bottom of the pallet and sends the retrieved data to a laptop in the form of a graph. This shows how the force of the film changes over time and shows if the film loses retention at critical points on the pallet after being wrapped.

Finally, warehouse automation is transforming large-scale materials handling operations in the food industry. Nestlé and XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transport and logistics solutions, are currently co-creating a 638,000-square-foot distribution centre at the new SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park in Leicestershire, UK. The facility, a digital warehouse of the future, will predominantly handle Nestlé’s consumer packaged goods and will function as a testbed environment for XPO technology prototypes prior to global release.

The custom-designed distribution centre, scheduled to complete in 2020, will feature advanced sorting systems and robotics alongside state-of-the-art automation co-developed with Swisslog Logistics Automation. The site’s digital ecosystem will integrate predictive data and intelligent machines to deliver one of the most advanced distribution management centres in the world, giving consumers faster, more efficient access to Kitkat, Maggi, Nescafé and other much-loved Nestlé brands.

Nestlé Director of Supply Chain David Hix said: “This flagship digital warehouse and technology laboratory is a world-first investment for Nestlé that builds on a century and a half of proud history in this country. Our partnership with XPO will encourage innovation and experimentation in our UK logistics operations and help futureproof our business.