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Playing it cool on storage

By CEVA Logistics

CEVA Logistics’ conveniently positioned portside multi temperature 10,000m2 storage facility The Chill Hub, situated at the London Gateway Port way, offers up to 10,000 pallet positions featuring seven independent chambers capable of operating at all temperature ranges, from -25°C through to +16°C. 

Since opening just over a year ago, the company says it has successfully on-boarded multiple customers from the fresh produce, chilled FMCG and retail industries. “Our customers all experience a first-class service as we look to build long-lasting partnerships,” says Martin Olverson, head of business development – cold chain solutions at The Chill Hub.  “Our clients all have access to the customer portal, compatible with any device, and can import data, retrieve live information up to pallet level and upload orders at the touch of a button.”  

Flexible, fast throughput 

In these uncertain times of Covid-19 and a Brexit deal or no deal, CEVA recognises that providing flexible, fast volume throughput to deal with manufacturing and harvest capacity fluctuations is paramount to keep the supply chain moving. “The Chill Hub is strategically located with direct access to the deep-sea port London Gateway and good links to the southern short sea and ro-ro ports. It is also ideally positioned to provide fast, direct distribution of chilled goods to the south east consumer market,” says Olverson.

Excellent Environmental credentials

Reducing ‘food miles’ and carbon emissions through cutting inland mileage is only the start of the firm’s environmental credentials, he adds.  “The Chill Hub is housed in a building of exceptional quality, powered by renewable solar energy. Sensor controlled, energy-efficient LED lighting, along with rainwater collection used for cleaning and the supply of toilets, provide energy efficiency – an ongoing objective for the company.”

Value-add services

In addition, a full range of value-add services at the facility include labelling, boxing, re-palletising, price coding, tagging and kitting.  “With London less than an hour away and The Chill Hub’s extensive range of services, there is no need to make your products travel any further for your London and wider south eastbased customers. Increased shelf-life and reduced transport costs benefit both our customers and the ultimate end-consumer,” he says.

Mathieu Friedberg, CEO at CEVA, adds: “As a one-stop-shop, we can provide a unique value proposition to our customers: faster delivery of goods through The Chill Hub’s energy-efficient building; and full visibility and control of the entire inbound operation.”


  • Faster container turnaround times increasing product shelf life
  • Port location enables overweight container movement
  • Reduced inland movement miles = reduced cost and carbon emissions 
  • Direct access to warehouse systems providing real time stock and movement data
  • Dedicated Value Add Services chamber providing QC and re-work capability

For more information, please contact Martin Olverson.


London Gateway Logistics Park, North Sea Crossing, West 6 Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, SS17 9ER, UK

Navigating Covid-19 through e-commerce: Lessons learnt

By Michiel Schipperus, CEO at Sana Commerce

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the global retail industry, with sales expected to dip by 5.7% this year. At the same time however, global Amazon sales increased by 26% in Q1 and 40% in Q2, and e-commerce spending in the U.S. grew from 11.8% in Q1 to 16.1% in Q2

In the UK, Covid-19 is expected to add £5.3bn to UK e-commerce sales this year. These figures demonstrate that industries that were already predominantly focused online have been able to weather the storm more easily than those that were focused on traditional, face to face customer relationships. 

McKinsey carried out research looking at the various impacts that Covid-19 has had across the globe and the findings underline the need for businesses to ensure their digitisation strategies are in place for both customer channels and supply chains. In the UK and Europe, 40% of those questioned said that Covid-19 had accelerated the digitisation of their supply chain and 21% said it had significantly accelerated digitisation of customer channels. In North America these stats were 31% and 13% respectively. 

While these figures incorporate both consumer and B2B e-commerce growth, it’s still evident that manufacturers, wholesalers and other B2B organisations can benefit from moving sales online. But B2B sales require a very different approach to the customer journey than B2C, so ensuring that the online solution is fit for purpose is key. What approach should businesses take as they start on their digitalisation journey?

Finding the right solution

During this period of increasing uncertainty businesses need to make quick decisions around digital strategies. It’s all about speed to market – getting a business online can be the difference between the business being open or closed. Customers want to know that they are dealing with a reliable business that puts them first, understands their specific requirements and then delivers a personalised approach. Most businesses are keen to get a solution in place now to help them to capitalise on the accelerated need for online sales through an e-commerce solution that simply works. For those that have never had e-commerce before it needs to be straightforward and easy to maintain through cloud based automated updates, enabling businesses to capitalise on existing markets. For those businesses that have a more mature e-commerce offering, it’s all about refining the customer journey to make purchasing a simple as possible.

Make it personal

Key to success is the organisation’s ability to focus on its relationship with its customers. Covid-19 has taught us that customers are seeking reassurance from the people they do business with. This means that a website that is completely self-service must offer the customer such a strong purchasing experience that they do not feel the need to have the personal contact that would have previously been the norm.  

People want to do business with businesses they can trust. This means having a platform that delivers personalisation for the end user through flexible design that can be implemented quickly and be customised to specific requirements. Personalisation allows a business to target customers more closely, offering discounts to either a specific group of customers, or on products that are in high demand, for example. It means showing personal payment options and delivery possibilities that are specific to a segment or even an individual customer. Or drawing into a customer’s previous buying patterns to make suggestions, recommendations and advice. It is possible to get your web store live quickly to meet these challenges by using a SaaS solution – meaning it can be built and integrated into your ERP in a matter of days. 

Consider your timeframe

Customers expect swift response times, even in the world of B2B. If you are not able to provide them with this, it is likely they will go to a competitor so choose a webstore solution that’s responsive. Consider looking for a site that is built on single-page application (SPA) designed for B2B, creating dynamically loading pages and not rebuilding each time visitors navigate to a new page. This improves the overall customer experience and enables them to get to where they want to go on your site much faster meaning time to basket can be reduced.

Integrate your ERP

Integration with a company’s ERP systems is crucial as this ensures that existing data, such as stock availability, personalised pricing options, and order history, are instantly reflected in the online store, eliminating errors and delays and delivering a reliable online experience. Businesses should seek a solution that provides the maximum amount of flexibility. One that offers headless-ready e-commerce is the best approach here as it means it can be integrated with ERP system(s) in the back end whilst using other platforms for the customer front end. This is important as it opens up opportunities for the additions of applications such as voice or even barcode scanners in the future. This type of solution helps to create a seamless, personalised customer experience – enabling businesses to foster long lasting relationships even once the global pandemic is under control. 

The current climate is impacting every business, no matter what industry they are in. The days of face to face buying and selling may become a thing of the past and the need to be able to deliver that personal service through e-commerce is increasingly important. While it may be tempting to rush to find a solution, particularly when faced with the threat of losing customers, it is vital to carefully consider the best possible solutions available at this time. This considered approach will allow businesses to secure their current customer base whilst setting themselves up for a successful online future.

How subscription models are growing in the manufacturing space

In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to John Phillips (pictured), General Manager at Zuora, about the firm’s research into how subscription models are growing in the manufacturing space… 

Tell us a little about Zuora’s Subscription Economy Index?  

Zuora’s Subscription Economy Index is an analysis we run twice a year that tracks the health and growth of subscription businesses across various industries including, but not limited to, Manufacturing, IoT, SaaS, publishing, media and more. We analyse and measure the metrics of hundreds of different companies around the world in order to understand how subscription-based models are faring in relation to their S&P 500 counterparts.  

Given the current period of economic uncertainty that all businesses are facing, our latest report – which was released last month and features new data for the last 6 months ending June 30th 2020 – was particularly interesting. When the global pandemic struck, no industry was left unscathed. Drastic changes to buying behavior meant that every business was forced to adapt quickly in order to keep afloat. 

Our latest SEI found that, amid this uncertain time, subscription businesses proved to be resilient. In fact, subscription companies continued to outperform their product-based peers by wide margins, growing revenues nearly 6X faster than S&P 500 companies (17.82% versus 3.16%). Overall, subscription sign-ups are on the rise, and while the S&P 500 companies saw sales contract at an annualised rate of -10% in Q2, the Index reveals that subscription businesses actually expanded at a rate of 12%. 

What were the key findings this year in terms of manufacturing? 

Despite facing a number of challenges amid today’s pandemic – including supply chain, workforce and demand disruptions – the SEI  suggests that the outlook for the sector is strong, as manufacturers look to reinvent their business models around digital offerings. 

Following a brief pause in operations at the beginning of the pandemic – as many factories were forced to close – most workers were deemed essential and were able to return to work. This led to an uptick in revenue, especially for manufacturers monetising with subscription-based digital services, who outperformed their S&P counterparts as they rebuilt after shutdowns (7% revenue growth vs -8.1% revenue decline for S&P counterpart in Q2 2020).  

In manufacturing, subscriptions are typically tied to a service, often those made available through IoT devices and technology. They’re valuable because they can extend the lifetime of products, providing customers with more data insights (such as machine utilisation and workforce monitoring) and a reduction in operating expenses. For example, instead of selling a product as a one-time transaction, a manufacturer may sell regular maintenance, safety analysis or location tracking for devices as a subscription.

The rebound among these subscription-based manufacturers we recorded within the report could have been in part due to the tactics a recurring-revenue model enables. For example, many increased their free trial offerings in Q1 and Q2 2020, which allowed them to address customer needs and eventually increase demand after a multi-week manufacturing pause.    

Why do you think  IoT subscriptions in particular grew for manufacturers throughout the pandemic? 

Historically, much of the growth of digital subscription services in manufacturing has been prompted by the need for companies to look for ways to increase efficiencies and cut costs. The pandemic brought with it serious gaps in the global supply chain as factories were forced to shut following concerns around employee health. This, alongside the resulting financial crisis that we are currently facing, has only compounded the need to maximise ROI.  

This is where IoT comes in. Many manufacturers are adopting it, alongside other forms of automation, in order to reduce worker density and increase machine productivity in an effort to ensure safety and continuity should there be a future outbreak. Subscriptions have been around for decades. However, the rise of the IoT has maximised their value and increased their popularity. As mentioned above, the stability of the recurring revenue model has been a key growth strategy during the pandemic, and many manufacturers have shifted more of their business to subscriptions.

As well as using the connectivity of IoT to improve operations, some manufacturers sell after-market connectivity that tracks the condition of a product in the field. For example, Caterpillar produces connected machines with integrated sensors that gather data. This data helps customers optimise the use of their fleets and reduce the overall cost of ownership. As a result, the company has new recurring revenue streams, closer relationships with their customers, and the largest connected fleet in the world, with more than 500,000 connected assets in the field. 

Another company truly using IoT to its advantage is Honeywell, which has evolved from a traditional manufacturer solely focused on products, into an industrial software and services company in recent years. Most recently, the company launched Honeywell Forge, an Enterprise Performance Management software that provides insights to operators of buildings, airlines, industrial facilities, and other infrastructure. It is being built on the premise that one day the entire physical world is going to be connected. This belief is one of the key drivers of the current rise in IoT subscriptions across the industry. 

How can manufacturers looking to adopt a subscription-based model ensure that it is a success post pandemic? 

In the second half of the year, manufacturers must continue to assess their toolbox of pricing strategies and other elements related to the subscriber experience—such as shifting from free trials to tailored customised packages—to retain customers and continue to grow accounts and revenue. 

Pricing plays a critical role in the success or failure of a subscription service. Research from the Subscribed Institute shows that companies that adopt some level of usage-based pricing, charging customers based on how much they use a product or service, grow faster than peers. In fact, companies with usage-based pricing making up between 1-25% of overall revenue grew by 25% YoY.  Companies need to be aware of their customers’ needs and deliver based on this. After all, if customers are left wanting more out of an offering (or needing less), you risk the chance of turnover. 

Manufacturers should also look to use data insights to better understand their customers and customise experiences. One of the main benefits of a recurring digital service is the incredibly rich customer data that can be obtained from it. The more a customer uses a service, the more manufacturers are able to learn to further understanding of customer preferences and usage patterns. This can help to establish closer relationships with customers and enable manufacturers to provide more personalised experiences which will stand out from the competition and encourage customers to continue to invest in their offering. 

A secure, sustainable pathway to the IoT in supply chains

By Derek Bryan, VP EMEA at Verizon Connect

Supply chains are constantly battling challenges, with unforeseen delays, restrictions and thefts causing disruption at every turn. More recently, the pandemic threatened the continuity of supply chains more severely than any event in recent memory. Lockdowns imposed across Europe and the rest of the world in response have caused disruption to the flow of goods, people, and transport drastically – with no indication of when its effects might fully subside.

The industry requires a smart solution, and the Internet of Things (IoT) could provide us with some of the answers. From temperature gauges, to in-vehicle sensor technology, to vehicle condition monitoring, the number of internet-connected devices in this sector will continue to grow, offering a ream of benefits to drivers navigating supply chain uncertainty going forward. 

According to the Verizon Business 2020 Data Breaches Investigation Report (DBIR), IT misconfiguration was responsible for the largest number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the transport and logistics sector. This is one of a variety of factors preventing a confident uptake of IoT across the sector, meaning drivers are losing out. 

With this in mind, how can we reconcile the expanding landscape of IoT vulnerabilities with its potential benefits? And moreover, as restrictions on mobility and economic disruption continue to be top of mind, how can businesses gain ROI from IoT in the medium and long term? 

Shoring up the supply chain – the benefits of IoT 

First and foremost, we must establish how IoT helps logistics businesses shore up their pipelines. 

IoT devices can include anything from asset monitoring sensors within vehicles to assess the condition and temperature of cargo, to external sensors alerting drivers of the proximity of other vehicles, to the condition of the engine, to driver seats being occupied and doors/windows being opened or broken into. Additionally, AI dash cameras that allow fleet managers to review footage following a harsh driving event or accident are also becoming increasingly common within the sector. 

Installing connected, smart technology on the ground provides logistics managers with a wealth of actionable data on, and visibility into, every step of the supply chain – allowing them to enhance operations in numerous ways. Using the data, drivers can be instructed to drive less aggressively or change how they load vehicles, for example, to ensure both they and their cargo arrive at their intended destination safely. 

Managers can predictively pull vehicles out of operation if engine diagnosis data indicates a breakdown may be imminent. Drivers can pinpoint exactly when and where their vehicle was stolen or damaged to help expedite insurance claims. They can even provide supermarket customers with exact records of how long their produce has been stored for, and at what temperature, while in transit.

These closer and more accurate insights are particularly valuable to logistics businesses during times of disruption such as a pandemic or other global event. Agility, streamlined operations and vehicles and goods that communicate with each other help provide a more informed and consistent view of the supply chain, and in doing so help end users provide a more accurate and holistic picture to their customers.

Overcoming potential barriers to unleash full IoT potential 

The benefits of installing IoT for logistics companies are numerous, but Verizon’s DBIR findings show that cybersecurity remains an issue for the industry. Other factors commonly cited as barriers to IoT adoption include a lack of integration between IoT and other digital technology across the supply chain, and cost. 

A resulting lack of confidence is holding some companies back from taking full advantage of the insights the IoT has to offer. It is understandable that some firms may struggle to justify investments in IoT-enabled devices, particularly if their organisation’s wider technology stack does not permit their managers to collect, view, analyse and act on data effectively. 

A resulting lack of confidence is holding some companies back from taking full advantage of the insights the tech has to offer. However, integrated solutions now exist that help automate and facilitate intelligent decision-making using IoT data,  and are designed with data security at their heart. Once implemented effectively and fully connected to all applicable business units across an organisation, they allow businesses to drive down costs, compete more effectively and cut wastage.

Confidently drive ROI across the business 

Effectively implementing IoT creates an opportunity for businesses to cut costs well beyond the vehicular portion of the supply chain too. Connected devices allow for better tracking of goods and produce from production all the way through to the shop floor. This increased transparency increases customers’ confidence in a firm – and in doing so makes the business more competitive in the long-term. 

Installing the technology in a selected number of vehicles means an individual driver on the ground will be safer, but across a whole fleet, businesses can use the technology to lower collective insurance premiums and reduce risk exposure, protecting business returns and adding to the business’ bottom line. 

Supercharging the supply chain in times of crisis 

If the past year has taught businesses anything, it’s that the ability to be agile and connected, real-time communication are both key to keeping supply chains running during and beyond times of crisis.

Fleet optimisation has been commonplace for some time, but the insights generated by the IoT are opening up new opportunities for companies to make drivers and vehicles an extension of the business, wherever they are operating. Not only can it identify potential threats in real-time, alerting drivers of issues in their immediate surroundings, but it can also feed this information – and more – back up to fleet managers, who have fuller visibility across the chain and can use the information to inform more intelligent decision-making.

Being aware of how every part of your distributed workforce is operating has never been important given whole global networks are in limbo. Reporting this quickly and effectively can help drive greater efficiency, safety, and cost savings for businesses as a whole, whether big or small. 

How Hazel 4D’s Intelligent Load Stability system is the risk-free choice in pallet-wrapping


In buying and procurement, you’re under constant pressure to make the right choices – the most efficient, effective, robust or low-risk… so what if we were to say that when it comes to pallet-wrapping we could answer all of those needs? We challenged ourselves, with some help from our customers, to see if we could offer a truly ‘risk-free’ Hazel 4D solution.

And we think we’ve got an offer that means Hazel 4D customers are making the right choice for their spend, efficiency, safety and reputation. That’s great news for their employers, their colleagues, customers and their own peace of mind.

We’ve built our business on trust, reliability and smart, efficient, safe solutions. We really care about minimising risk to ourselves and our customers – that’s why we’re the only supplier in the UK to deliver machinery, consumables, technical support and optimisation expertise in one easy-to-access load stability solution.

So we asked some of our procurement customers about the risk factors they’d consider in choosing their wrap solution and suppliers, and we challenged ourselves to answer each of those risks. Here’s how we did:

“Buyers really want to know that the supply is stable – it’s all very well having a great set-up but if pallet wrap is shipping from abroad, or anything gets in the way, it throws everything.”

  • We keep a huge supply of our film in-house because continuity matters to us too. So if there was any interruption to supply we have plenty in stock and wouldn’t feel an impact for several weeks.
  • Like most of our customers, we’ve been tested by the lockdown. Not only have we sustained our supply, but we’ve kept up our service too, conducting virtual machine installations by delivering the machines ready to ‘plug and play’, and even installing machines in under 24 hours. Nothing has stopped us!

“For me pallet stability is top priority – if I can go home at night knowing that’s as good as it can be, I’m happy. I don’t want to come in to be told someone’s been hurt, or to damaged returns.”

  • We offer a detailed consultation with experienced technical experts who are familiar with all aspects of load stability. They use state-of-the-art FEF200 mobile testing equipment to ensure your processes and materials are optimised for stability.
  • The machines and wrap we recommend and install are optimised to work together for a stable pallet. Extremus Nano film, which stretches up to 300%, produces a wrap so stable that our customers enjoy safer pallet transit, little or no damage to products, quicker unloading, easier handling and safer storage.
  • For many, we’ve eliminated their returns altogether.
  • By continuing to partner, and training your staff on-site, we can ensure machines remain optimised so that stability is never at-risk.

“The price has got to be right, and not just an introductory offer, or a low starting price – I need to forecast, so I need certainty.”

  • We keep our supply chains simple and work in partnership with people we trust and with whom we have developed valuable negotiating power.
  • We’re confident enough that our prices will remain consistent that we negotiate fixed prices for contracts with our customers, so they know exactly what the cost will be for that period.
  • Once we’re up and running, we can keep your costs consistent by keeping machines optimised – minimising film use, maximising stretch and stability and reducing or even eliminating costs in machine downtime, damages and returns.
  • Customisable, lockable programmes help ensure consistent running and predictable costs.
  • Our online tools ensure smooth management of orders and easy tracking of your pallet wrapping costs and associated carbon savings, so our customers can really keep an eye on spend.

“Our biggest problems often trace back to poor machines – they waste time, waste product and give us poor wraps. That’s been the biggest risk.”

  • Our consultations always start with machines. Often, ‘bad’ machines are fixable – they’ve just not been optimised, or they are not compatible with the film being used. Our experienced consultants use our state-of-the-art testing tech to analyse the current wrapping arrangements and costs, and provide detailed reports showing potential savings and improvements.
  • We often see customers who have given up on improving load stability after several disappointing tries with Nano film, but we’ve been able to turn things around and deliver spectacular results, because we know pallet wrapping machines inside out.
  • We can improve existing machines where there are fixable problems or provide Atlanta machines where customers need new installations. At Hazel 4D we work exclusively with Atlanta in the UK and both know and trust their machines.

“Switching has to be easy… it might feel risky making a big change, so it should be as simple as possible and earn its keep quickly.”

  • We supply both consumables and machines and all service work is delivered by us – no other supplier in the UK can make that claim. It means that machinery, film, technical support and optimisation expertise are all straight from Hazel 4D, and we take responsibility for ensuring everything works together. This drastically reduces the risk of any one element causing your whole process to stall.
  • Our consultation ensures you get exactly the solution you need, bespoke to your priorities, along with tailor-made ongoing support.
  • We can get you up and running quickly, with machines installed in as little as 24 hours, and staff trained and ready to go shortly afterwards.
  • Our online portal makes ordering easy and quick, with next day delivery available.
  • All the analysis and reporting provided makes it easy for buyers to report the savings achieved.
  • And we stick with you, so our single point of help continues – we’ll maintain, supply consumables, review and help you keep things running smoothly – all with contact to one person.

A quick word from our experts on risk…

Bryan Stutterheim is one of our leading technical consultants and Kevin Oliver is our technical sales manager. Both have been with us for over 20 years and we asked them for their thoughts on the big risks customers face and how we can help overcome them.

Bryan says – “The so-called Plastic Tax is due to come into force in April 2022 but we’re speaking to lots of people wanting to get ready now, not just so they meet obligations but because they want to actively reduce their waste. We can help with that, delivering consultancy to tell them how to minimise waste, switch to a more efficient film and use our online tools to help track carbon savings. It’s a good idea to start thinking and planning now to avoid missing the chance to make a real change for the better.”

Kevin says – “My best tip is inspired by the number of customers who say ‘I don’t know why we didn’t do this years ago!’. We can make such a difference when we get the chance to test, improve and optimise the wrapping process, on cost, stability, performance, waste… everything. So my tip would be to just get in touch – we’ll tell you how you can not only improve cost per pallet wrapped, but reduce risks and enhance performance across your pallet-wrapping operations. It’s just a risk-free call to Hazel 4D!”

What could a switch mean in real terms?

One of our clients was shocked to discover the difference in the current cost of wrapping pallets, and the weight of film used, across their four production lines – but was delighted by the savings we could deliver for them.

Click here to book a free consultation

Or if you’re ready to start a conversation you can get in touch with us on 0113 242 6999 or email

Smart warehousing: A reality check for the big vision of the Internet of Things

By Jamies Watts, Head of Sales, Mysoft

Following last week’s Total Supply Chain Summit, I have reflected on some of the conversations I had with people and a key topic that came up was Smart Warehousing and where SME’s are on their journey to optimizing towards this. I have done some further  reading and wanted to share my thoughts with you…

At the turn of a new decade, we are on the brink of exceptional growth in the Internet of Things (IoT). The number of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide in 2020 , and onwards to 75 billion by 2025, making IoT truly one of the trends of the decade. 

As 5G also becomes the norm, those devices will be connected across continents rather than just warehouses, and the logistics business is therefore ideally placed to benefit.

The need to refactor logistics for social distancing in the post-coronavirus (COVID-19) world makes the business case for smart warehousing more compelling. 

The RFID Journal reports: “At a time when social distancing is sweeping the world and changing the face of retail, the companies that survive will be those that take the leap into digitising their supply chain processes with IoT and RFID.”

But those headline statistics are only meaningful if we put the datapoints created by IoT devices to work. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is certainly part of the solution – it  connects disparate systems to allow management to identify trends and patterns and so make better commercial decisions. 

This is already going to be challenging. Analyst IDC estimates that IoT devices will create a whopping 40,000 exabytes of data by 2020 (that’s 40,000 billion gigabytes) and sifting value from the chaff of this data pool demands rigour and data visualisation skills which are currently both cutting edge and expensive to recruit.

Real world processes are resistant to automation

However, that’s still only the start. IoT is a rapidly expanding set of tools and standards to create information flows; it’s not a business solution in its own right. 

The smart warehouse, in which human effort is slowly transplanted by automations, requires a blend of hardware and software. Yes, that will be underpinned by IoT, but a range of systems must work in harmony.

Take, for example, one of the most basic functions that is naggingly resistant to automation: picking. The value of automation is clear. In the words of consultant Digiteum: “Tasks like picking and packing are monotonous and tiresome — thus, the odds of human error are higher than in more demanding tasks. IoT and smart warehouse technologies help automate repetitive assignments and allocate the workforce more efficiently. By introducing IoT to the warehouse, store managers will be able to reduce order inaccuracies and inventory damage.” 

But automated picking requires:

  • Standards for packaging – which generally has an associated size/handling cost
  • In-house and external coding/asset-tagging and code display (barcodes, etc) requirements
  • Best-in-class robotics, either capable of identifying and gently lifting a product, or at the least capable of picking units from a pre-defined pallet location
  • Management software to run the show and exception handling for when things go wrong

And picking is only one component of the workflow in which digital is expected to interface with the human world in the logistics environment. An end-to-end system will include guided vehicles and/or transit sorting, inventory control, and the ubiquitous Warehouse Management System.

Reviewing the business case

The smart warehouse business case therefore needs a two-pronged approach:

  • holistic view to appreciate all the possible benefits of a data-empowered warehouse:
    • Customer service with better communication and transparency, leading to loyalty
    • More efficient logistics from real-time understanding
    • Problem-solving, whether order-based (mistakes with individual items) or line-based (predictive maintenance and hot-swapping of facilities)
    • Productivity, whereby employees can be focused on higher-value activities
  • But a tactical, stepped approach so the pain of overhaul can be softened by quick wins and low-hanging opportunities.

Warehousing is going digital. That’s non-negotiable. 

In the smart warehouse, accelerated by the need for social distancing, there will also be fewer people on the shop floor. That’s also a business necessity. 

But what the shape of digital enablement will look like in each instance will never be set in stone. 

Further emerging trends (such as drones and autonomous vehicles) have yet to make their mark. Today’s state of flux is the new normal, and perhaps the most open-minded approach is to realise that data is an asset in its own right. 

It’s up to us to put it to relevant and meaningful use, knowing the solution will likely be different for each business.

If this is something that you would like to discuss is more detail and how Sage and Mysoft can help your business, specifically around smart warehousing and ERP. Contact me on 07826 527 821

New drone technology transforms ABP’s asset management, in partnership with PWC and Aerodyne

Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s leading and best-connected port owner and operator, announced it has successfully embedded drone technology into its asset management practices and policies, following an 18 month program

It utilised PwC’s specialist drone digital transformation team to support drone adoption and transformation in asset management, while Aerodyne Group, a DT3 (Drone Tech, Data Tech and Digital Transformation) solutions provider, was selected as ABP’s drone service provider, bringing its extensive experience and world-class technology to bear.

ABP’s 21 ports and rail freight terminals around Britain offer unparalleled marine, road and rail access to domestic and international markets, and include 87km of quay and 1.4 million sqm of covered storage.

ABP’s Group Director Safety, Engineering and Marine, Mike McCartain, said: “After an initial proof of concept with PwC, we realised drones could offer significant value to our asset and property inspections, using drone and data technology integrated with a secure cloud platform. They are safer, faster and more cost-effective, enabling us to optimise operations and reduce risks. 

“The cloud platform we’ve built with our partners gives our teams simple and intuitive access to the drone information, including the ability to build inspection reports in the browser, aligned to our existing asset management systems.  Without a doubt, this is a big step forward in ABP’s digital transformation and safety journey using the latest available technology.”

Steve Russell, a Partner at PwC, elaborated: “It can be complex to implement drone technology and our team of digital transformation experts have supported ABP through the drone case for change, vendor selection and implementation, ensuring a systematic and low risk approach to making technology work for their business.  ABP chose Aerodyne Group after our work with them on vendor selection and we are pleased to work with Aerodyne, noting their leading cloud software platform, local capability and significant global scale, with more than 300,000 infrastructure assets inspected across 25 countries.”

Founder and Group CEO, Aerodyne Group, Kamarul A Muhamed, said: “We are honoured to be selected as exclusive drone solution provider for ABP. Globally, our clients have benefited from optimised management of their critical assets and infrastructure leveraging on our solutions. We are committed to provide consistent quality services while complying to established regulations and standards.”

Development in the past 6 months have been focused on extensive site testing with Aerodyne across 8 locations in the UK. Analysis and data collection from the flights has demonstrated considerable cost saving and benefits; operations were safer, 25% more cost effective; and took 55% less time compared to traditional methods for selected assets. 

In parallel, ABP worked with Aerodyne and PwC to build a cutting-edge drone visual asset management system which enables its teams to view asset condition dashboards, asset management information and build inspection reports, with only a browser required to access.

ABP’s next project is the development of an in-house drone capability to complement the Aerodyne solutions and it has just retained PwC’s specialist drone team to assist with this critical implementation.

Never mind the kilos… what’s your film costing per pallet?

By Hazel 4D

Usually when we talk to clients about how much they spend on stretch film, we’ll hear an answer about cost per kilo. What we hear less often is how far that weight goes – how many pallets can a kilo wrap? Yet that is the only way we’ll know the value that our plastic wrap is delivering, so it’s time to change – no more price per kilo!

Let’s talk about price per pallet wrapped. We promise, make that change and you’ll think differently about your plastic wrap and what it’s really costing you.

Here’s an example: Extremus – our best-selling stretch wrap – costs more per kilo than the average. But it delivers around 300% stretch, so it goes much further, and creates a more stable and secure pallet (and lots of other value that can’t be easily quantified, like cost savings, reduced plastic waste, easier handling – all leading to fewer returns and damages).

Think of what you’re spending per pallet wrapped and Extremus is clearly the intelligent choice. On optimised machines where Extremus can be applied at can be less than 4 microns, 1 metre of film becomes 4 metres.

Plus, price per kilo really also needs to take into account the weight of the core which for some brands can be up to 2.2kg. Extremus’ core weighs just 1.1kg, so the price you’re paying is for film, not for the core. And when the plastic tax begins in April 2022, inefficient wrapping will cost companies even more. All of this means that using Extremus significantly reduces your price per pallet wrapped.

What could a switch to Extremus mean in real terms? Based on research with our customers, we’ve found that switching to an ‘expensive’ film like Extremus can actually deliver cost savings of up to 78% per pallet wrapped. We’ve seen it reduce film costs for one of our customers, a snack food manufacturer, from 97p per pallet wrapped down to just 24p.

“Thinking of the cost per kilo of our film is meaningless – it doesn’t tell us anything about your real costs or opportunities to save. When we think in terms of cost per pallet, then we get an idea of how much our true costs are, and potentially, how much we’re losing to inefficient wrapping. Often when we work with customers to explore this, their cost per pallet is a revelation to them. They might be shocked to start with, but one of our consultations is the beginning of making it better too.”

Garth Christie, Chairman of Hazel 4D


A pet food client was shocked to discover the difference in the current cost of wrapping pallets, and the weight of film used, across their four production lines – but was delighted by the savings we could deliver for them.

Another customer said: 

“I had no idea we were applying over 1.1kg of film per pallet. Hazel 4D have successfully achieved a much safer pallet with less than a quarter of the weight of film.” 
Distribution Centre Manager, Nursery Brand and Manufacturer.

The team at Hazel 4D will work with you to understand your needs, recommend a tailored solution and optimise either your own or new machines and materials. This means that you’ll get total load stability and a real weight off your mind. Plus, we’ll make sure it stays that way with regular visits to ensure your system is always on top form.

Click here to book a free consultation

Or if you’re ready to start a conversation you can get in touch with us on 0113 242 6999 or email

The steps to deliver warehouse automation

By BoxLogic

BoxLogic offer expert logistics consultancy support for businesses looking to transform their operations and reduce costs, increase capacity, or improve service.

Warehouse automation is one area of specialisation for our consultants where we use our extensive experience to support our clients develop a costed concept design through to tendering and implementation.

While the benefits of automation and robotics can be very attractive, these projects do present very real risks and it is important to enlist the support of experienced professionals to maximise the chances of a smooth and successful delivery.

Read our article on the steps to deliver warehouse automation to find out more or speak to us at the Total Supply Chain Summit on 1-2 October 2020 at Heythrop Park.

Automate to tackle peak season challenges

By Quadient

How can e-commerce companies successfully navigate recent extreme purchasing peaks when labour resources are reduced or unavailable, social distancing guidelines are in place, shipping prices are increasing, and demand just keeps growing?

Labour and shipping costs coupled with pressure to meet fast delivery demands has left companies striving for lower costs. Often, packaging can be the most manual and labour-intensive part of the fulfillment design. 

With expected long-term shifts in consumer behaviour, online retailers will turn to packaging automation for stability, efficiency and cost savings. By choosing an automated solution to right-size ecommerce deliveries, retailers can meet their fulfilment promises, even in the peaks, while respecting the environment, reducing transit damage, and saving money. Even operating ‘off-peak’ at well below capacity, there is a rapid return on investment in the form of material savings, shipping costs and labour resources. 

Using a right-sized box means your products will be packaged more securely and cost effectively. Custom, fit-to-size packaging machines will pack a broad range of items using one or two operators, from head phones to a vacuum cleaner, and allow for even greater shipping efficiencies. 

The CVP Automated Packaging Solutions have the fastest, most agile throughput on the market today, backed by proven customer data and a dedicated service and support team. Auto-packing will create less waste, reduce product damage, save on labour and shipping costs, and generate repeat business to save your company money while ensuring all steps of the packing process are optimized. 

For more information, click here.