Stuart O'Brien, Author at Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd

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Stuart O'Brien

Combatting growing pains within small retailers

Starting up as a retailer is easy – it’s managing growth that’s tricky. Entrepreneurial individuals can leverage any one of over 400 marketplaces to build up a brand and access global customers. Stock can be stored in a single location and orders quickly fulfilled by hand. But that’s just the start. Successful business expansion depends upon the ability to sustain customer experience and brand value irrespective of the number of additional customers, channels, or product lines. And that is where a great business – and business owner – can start to unravel. 

Identifying the right time to invest and scale up the business to the next level is difficult. But there are often signs the current model is beginning to creak. Whether it is spending evenings and weekends trying to keep up with orders, making mistakes in order processing and inventory that are leading to customer service issues, or feeling overwhelmed by a spiralling cost base, it is time to invest in technology before growth risks derailing the business.

Chris Timmer, CEO of Linnworks explains why an e-commerce platform that seamlessly manages inventory and order fulfilment across multiple marketplaces, third-party logistics, and couriers, as well as providing a real-time view of business performance, is essential to safeguarding both customers’ and owners’ retail experiences… 

Expanding Business Opportunities

The number of UK retail companies is on the rise, with a 14% increase in five years, resulting in an additional 27,445 new companies in the sector. Many of these companies have exploited the power of online marketplaces to take an idea from the kitchen table to potentially a global audience. Entrepreneurs have mastered product design, sourcing, and marketing; they have leveraged small start-up capital investments to build inventory, create the right pricing model, and curate a brand. All of this typically uses basic tools such as spreadsheets.

But what happens next? When customers like the product, sales soar and feedback is great, how does a business take the next step? Multi-channel retail is really important – with 70% of customer searches originating on marketplaces and social media– but each additional marketplace adds complexity and risk. How can the order process be managed effectively? Where should stock be located? Are third-party logistics (3PL) providers the best option? Which courier’s price and service delivery model provides the best fit for customer expectations? And is it possible to provide customers with the full visibility of order status throughout?

These decisions are daunting – and it can be tempting to stay small in order to control. But realistically, is the business really under control? Or is the business owner working 7 days a week simply to keep the wheels turning? Any growing small business will hit a point when change is inevitable. But what needs to change and where should the investment be focused? Adding people is expensive, inflexible, and higher risk, especially when sales can be cyclical at best, and volatile at worst. Extending the number of marketplaces the business sells through is simple on paper but can be a nightmare in practice, especially if a retailer is still trying to handle the entire process manually and can be a fast track to losing hard-won customer loyalty.

Timing is Everything

To scale without adding unnecessary risk or unacceptable cost, a retailer needs to connect and automate every aspect of the e-commerce process. With a flexible pricing model that aligns cost to value, dedicated Connected CommerceOps software affordably provides a level of cross-marketplace efficiency with inventory management and fulfilment excellence that cannot be achieved using multiple spreadsheets or home-grown databases.

By operationalising the entire e-commerce process, a small retailer can seamlessly scale up while sustaining a high-quality customer experience. With a single, reconciled view of inventory across warehouses and third-party logistics providers, the risk associated with expanding across multiple marketplaces is mitigated by enabling efficient order fulfilment processes that truly meet each customer’s expectations.

Leveraging an ecosystem of integrated solutions to include pricing, listing capabilities, or shipping to provide customers with full visibility of order status and delivery, with access to marketplace channels, the entire e-commerce process can be executed holistically. The retailer’s reach is extended while safeguarding the quality of experience that is at the heart of successful, profitable growth.

Retain Focus with Intelligence

Furthermore, Connected CommerceOps delivers new levels of insight into every part of the retail process, allowing early intervention when inevitable problems arise and supporting further growth plans. Rather than spending 100% of the time operationally firefighting, a business owner or management team can use insight to understand trends in customer behaviour, optimise inventory models, and continually assess courier performance.

For example, evidence suggests that a five or more marketplace model provides optimum performance for a small but growing retailer. It smooths out the volatility that can occur with a one or two-channel model and, with complete visibility and automation, provides a successful platform for growth. Once retailers have become established at that level, insight into performance across each marketplace, product line, and customer profile can then support further marketplace expansion as required.

Critically, this can be achieved without working seven days a week; without the need to constantly juggle order fulfilment with finance, and customer services with merchandising. Combining slick operational processes with accurate business insight not only allows a retailer to scale and sustain the customer experience but it also gives a retail owner their weekends back. 


Many entrepreneurs wait too long to make the change. They hit the moment when the excitement of business success tips over into the dread of business overwhelm. And while it is always tough to decide when it is right to invest in the technology required to support growth, it is far, far better to go early than wait too long, miss the boat, and watch hard-won success unravel.

Investing in the right technology at the right time safeguards not only business growth but an entrepreneur’s business commitment. No more problems associated with inconsistent stock information, leading to missed opportunities and the untenable costs associated with overstocking. Or nights spent second-guessing this season’s performance when planning what to buy for next season. And no more risk associated with unfocused multi-marketplace models that add complexity but fail to truly reflect the business concept.

By investing in automation at the right time and operationalising the business, a retailer owner reduces the risks associated with growth, while retaining the innovative spirit that was the original business inspiration.

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

TRANSPORT PLANNING MONTH: How approaches to transport planning have evolved

Transport planning within supply chain management has experienced significant evolution over the last 10 years, driven by technological advancements, environmental considerations, and changing market dynamics. For Supply Chain Managers, these shifts have necessitated a reevaluation of traditional transport strategies, leading to more efficient, sustainable, and responsive operations. Let’s explore the trends, based on input for attendees at the recent Total Supply Chain Summit…

1. Embracing Digitalisation and Technology

Perhaps the most transformative change has been the widespread adoption of digital technologies. A decade ago, many supply chain managers relied heavily on manual processes for transport planning. Today, the utilisation of Transport Management Systems (TMS) and advanced software solutions has become standard. These digital tools offer enhanced capabilities for route optimisation, load planning, carrier selection, and real-time tracking of shipments. The integration of GPS and telematics has further revolutionised transport planning, providing unprecedented visibility and control over logistics operations.

2. Focus on Sustainability

Environmental sustainability has become a central consideration in transport planning. In response to growing environmental concerns and regulatory pressures, supply chain managers are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices. This includes optimising routes to reduce fuel consumption, transitioning to alternative fuels, and investing in electric or hybrid vehicles. Furthermore, the concept of ‘green logistics’ has gained traction, with an emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint of transport operations.

3. Agile and Flexible Planning

The dynamic nature of the global market, underscored by challenges such as Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, has highlighted the need for agility and flexibility in transport planning. Supply chain managers are now prioritising adaptive transport strategies that can swiftly respond to changing market conditions and disruptions. This involves diversifying transport modes, maintaining buffer stocks, and developing contingency routes to mitigate risks and ensure uninterrupted supply chains.

4. Collaboration and Integration

There has been a shift towards greater collaboration and integration within the supply chain. Managers are now working more closely with suppliers, manufacturers, and transport providers to create more cohesive and efficient transport strategies. This collaborative approach, often facilitated by cloud-based platforms, ensures the alignment of transport planning with broader supply chain goals.

5. Customer-Centric Approach

Driven by the rise of e-commerce and heightened customer expectations, transport planning has become more customer-focused. Supply chain managers are now more attuned to customer needs, emphasising speed, reliability, and transparency in deliveries. This customer-centric approach has led to innovations such as last-mile delivery solutions and enhanced tracking systems for customers.

6. Data-Driven Decision Making

Data analytics has taken a front seat in transport planning. Supply chain managers are leveraging data to make informed decisions, predict trends, and identify areas for improvement. By analysing data related to transport times, costs, and carrier performance, managers can optimise transport strategies for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


In conclusion, the landscape of transport planning in UK supply chain management has evolved significantly over the last decade. Supply chain managers have had to adapt to technological advancements, environmental concerns, market volatility, and changing customer demands. By embracing digitalisation, focusing on sustainability, adopting agile strategies, fostering collaboration, prioritising customer needs, and utilising data analytics, they have developed transport strategies that are not only efficient but also resilient and adaptable to future challenges.

Are you looking for Transport Planning solutions for your organisation? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help.

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

TRANSPORT PLANNING MONTH: Navigating the challenges of peak season logistics

As the holiday shopping season rapidly approaches, shippers and carriers are yet again gearing up to tackle the formidable logistical and customer service challenges that inevitably come with peak season volumes. However, this year, their task is further complicated by ongoing supply chain disruptions all while grappling with the increasing uncertainty based on the geopolitical situation. Yet amid these challenges, customer expectations continue to soar, demanding fast, convenient, and on-time deliveries accompanied by real-time communication. To paraphrase Game of Thrones, Winter is certainly coming.

Shippers, carriers, and customers alike are no strangers to the stress involved in the months leading up to Christmas. With Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales just around the corner and unforeseen circumstances and delays, the potential for overwhelm is ever-present. However, proactive planning and more organised transportation operations can alleviate these concerns, ensuring that any potential threats to deliver a seamless peak season can be avoided.

Therefore, the need for swift and intelligent delivery solutions is more critical than ever. Transportation Management Platforms (TMP) emerge as a key enabler, allowing stakeholders to optimise delivery times, enhance agility, and streamline their sustainability and costs, all while meeting rising consumer expectations.

In this article, Christian Dolderer (pictured, above), Head of Market Intelligence Europe Road & Intermodal at Transporeon explains why it’s vital that retailers should prepare a seamless end-to-end supply chain before the run up to 2023’s peak season…

The Beauty of Data

Shippers and carriers are facing a delicate balancing act of keeping costs down while meeting the needs of increasingly demanding consumers. An empty shelf isn’t just a lost sale for someone – it’s a reason for customers to switch to another brand. So, businesses looking to drive as much value as possible from their operations also must ensure resilience against disruptions that, according to McKinsey, are becoming increasingly frequent.

Achieving an equilibrium between value and resilience starts with digitisation. The truth is that shippers and carriers aren’t as digitised as they should be. The era of Excel spreadsheets, manual searches, and endless route and rate browsing have become relics of the past. This inefficient administration burns valuable resources and fails to deliver optimum outcomes.

Now is the time for enterprises to pivot from mere data collection and embark on the process of generating transactions with the data at their disposal. Automated, data-driven decision-making within a collaborative and interconnected network, leveraging historical patterns, real-time data, and future predictions, will enhance transportation operations and enable reactions to fluctuating customer demands and adaptations to unforeseen events, such as border closures or dangerous weather conditions.

At the same time, tapping into data will provide balance in optimising their operations. Consider a day-to-day product such as toilet rolls, which is transported from warehouses to multiple countries and hundreds – if not thousands – of locations within those countries on a near-daily basis. These transports may have to cross international borders, adapt their routes due to traffic jams or road closures, and sync up with countless other transports. The logistics involved are staggering, but data can act as the common thread that ties such a complex operation together.

By investing in a smart Transport Management Platform, carriers and shippers can unlock multiple benefits such as optimising their operations and building greater profit margins. However, achieving it requires businesses to think beyond basic automation.

We’re Better Together

At times like peak season, it is more important than ever for enterprises to unite and work together to unlock operational benefits. For example, there’s no reason for trucks to travel hundreds of empty miles when a similar truck, equipped for the task, is more than likely unloading nearby. It’s time for shippers and carriers to forge connections with one another, establish common business standards, foster collaboration and embrace a platform that facilitates network-wide interoperability.

During peak season, connecting shippers, load recipients, service providers, brokers, forwarders and asset-based carriers is integral to creating a collaborative transportation community. By adhering to common standards and promoting interoperability, all stakeholders can uncover new business opportunities while achieving economies in their operations. This spirit of collaboration will grant the transportation market resilience and agility – both critical components, as highlighted in the 33rd Annual State of Logistics (SoL) report.


Long before the holiday season, shippers and carriers must be prepared to build deeper relationships and drive collaboration with other industry stakeholders within one connected network. They must work together to realise the economic gains available. It’s also clear that only through the implementation of digital tools, automation of the decision-making processes, and the harnessing of real-time insights, can the necessary steps be taken to establish the connectivity and interoperability required to bring logistics businesses together.

ORDER FULFILMENT MONTH: Selecting the right partner for retail and e-commerce brands

The choice of order fulfilment partner is a critical decision for supply chain managers working in retail and e-commerce. This decision not only impacts operational efficiency, but also influences customer satisfaction and brand reputation. As such, there are several key considerations that supply chain managers must evaluate when selecting a fulfilment partner, as outlined here based on input from delegates and suppliers attending the recent Total Supply Chain Summit…

1. Scalability and Flexibility

One of the foremost considerations is the ability of the fulfilment partner to scale operations up or down based on demand. E-commerce and retail businesses often experience seasonal peaks and troughs. A fulfilment partner that can efficiently manage these fluctuations ensures that the business can meet customer demand without incurring unnecessary costs during quieter periods. Flexibility in handling a range of product types and sizes is also crucial, particularly for businesses with diverse product portfolios.

2. Technological Integration

The technological capability of the fulfilment partner is another vital factor. Their systems should seamlessly integrate with the retailer’s e-commerce platform to ensure real-time inventory tracking, order processing, and status updates. Advanced technology such as automated picking and packing, and robotics can enhance efficiency and accuracy, reducing the likelihood of errors.

3. Geographical Coverage

Geographical coverage is a key consideration, especially for retailers looking to expand their market reach. A fulfilment partner with strategically located distribution centres can ensure faster delivery times and lower shipping costs, which are critical factors in customer satisfaction and competitiveness in the e-commerce market.

4. Experience and Expertise

The experience and expertise of the fulfilment partner in handling similar products and navigating the particular challenges of the retailer’s market are essential. Experienced partners are more likely to provide insights and solutions to common logistical challenges and offer value-added services such as kitting, custom packaging, or international shipping.

5. Cost-effectiveness

While cost should not be the only determining factor, it is undoubtedly a significant consideration. Supply chain managers must evaluate the cost structure of potential partners, including storage fees, pick and pack fees, and any additional charges. A transparent pricing model without hidden costs is preferable.

6. Speed and Accuracy

In the world of instant gratification, speed and accuracy of order fulfilment are paramount. The partner’s ability to process orders quickly and accurately directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty. This includes not only the speed of dispatch but also the accuracy in order fulfilment, packaging, and handling returns.

7. Sustainability Practices

With increasing consumer awareness and regulatory pressure regarding environmental impact, the sustainability practices of the fulfilment partner are becoming a crucial consideration. Partners with green initiatives such as eco-friendly packaging, energy-efficient warehouses, and sustainable transportation methods can help retailers align with environmental goals and improve their brand image.

8. Customer Service and Communication

Finally, the level of customer service and communication offered by the fulfilment partner can make a significant difference. A partner that provides excellent customer service, with clear and timely communication, can help manage exceptions and resolve issues swiftly, maintaining the retailer’s reputation.

Choosing a fulfilment partner is a multifaceted decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. By selecting a partner that aligns with their operational needs, technological requirements, geographical coverage, and cost structures, supply chain managers can ensure that their retail or e-commerce business is well-positioned to meet customer expectations and achieve sustainable growth.

Are you searching for Order Fulfilment partners for your business? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help!

Photo by Handy Wicaksono on Unsplash

SAVE THE DATE: Total Supply Chain Summit – April 2024

If you couldn’t make the recent Total Supply Chain Summit, don’t panic! The first of our 2024 events will take place on April 29th & 30th 2024.

It’s free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you up with innovative suppliers who match your business requirements.

So register today to secure your place (live and virtual attendance options are available). Here’s why you should attend:

  • As one of our guests, you will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of face-to-face meetings with suppliers based on mutual agreement. No hard sell, and no time wasted.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to attend insightful seminars and interactive workshops.
  • Network with 60+ other supply chain professionals who share your challenges.
  • Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments.

Taking place at the Radisson Red Hotel & Conference Centre Heathrow, the Total Supply Chain Summit provides a platform for new business connections.

But act swiftly! Register today!

Do you specialise in Transport Planning & Load Optimisation? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Supply Chain Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the logistics market – and in December we’ll be focussing on Transport Planning & Load Optimisation.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help supply chain industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Transport Planning & Load Optimisation specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Nick Stannard on

Dec – Transport Planning & Load Optimisation
Jan 2024 – Delivery Management
Feb 2024 – Distribution
Mar 2024 – Forecasting
Apr 2024 – Warehouse Management Software
May 2024 – Total End-to-End Solution
Jun 2024 – Cost Reductions
Aug 2024 – Logistics & Operations Management
Sept 2024 – Labelling & Packaging
Oct 2024 – 3PL & 4PL
Nov 2024 – Order Fulfilment

ORDER FULFILMENT MONTH: Integration, automation and sustainability in action

In the fast-moving landscape of retail, order fulfilment has undergone substantial transformation, especially in the UK, where the market demands efficiency and consumer-centric services. As part of Order Fulfilment Month here in Supply Chain Briefing we examine key trends in order fulfilment and the implications for the UK’s retail supply chain…

One prominent trend is the adoption of omnichannel strategies. Retailers are integrating their online and offline channels to provide a seamless shopping experience. Consumers expect to purchase online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), or vice versa, with real-time stock visibility. This requires a highly responsive and interconnected supply chain infrastructure. For example, John Lewis & Partners has invested heavily in its omnichannel capabilities, allowing for greater flexibility in how consumers receive their products.

Another significant development is the rise of automation and robotics in warehouses and distribution centers. Automated picking systems, robots, and drones expedite the order fulfilment process, enhancing accuracy and efficiency. The online grocery retailer, Ocado, is at the forefront, operating some of the world’s most advanced automated warehouses. These technologies not only quicken the fulfilment cycle but also mitigate the impact of labor shortages and increase scalability during peak times.

Sustainability in fulfilment operations has also come to the forefront. Consumers increasingly favour businesses that demonstrate a commitment to the environment. As a result, retailers are adopting green logistics, using electric vehicles for last-mile delivery, and optimising routes to reduce carbon emissions. For instance, ASDA’s trial of electric cargo bikes for home deliveries in London showcases an effort to combine efficiency with ecological consciousness.

The “ship from store” model is a trend gaining traction. Retailers are using their local stores as fulfilment centers to meet the demand for rapid delivery. This leverages existing retail space and proximity to customers, reducing delivery times and costs. Marks & Spencer has been utilising this approach, turning stores into mini distribution hubs to speed up deliveries and click-and-collect services.

In addition, advanced data analytics plays a crucial role in understanding consumer patterns, predicting demand, and managing inventory. Retailers are employing predictive analytics to forecast trends and optimise stock levels, thereby reducing overstocking or stockouts. Boots, for instance, has invested in advanced data tools to improve stock management and meet customer demand more precisely.

Lastly, the emergence of flexible fulfilment services, like the gig economy-based delivery models, provides additional elasticity to the supply chain. Retailers can scale delivery resources up or down according to demand without a fixed overhead. This agility is exemplified by Argos partnering with delivery service, Shutl, to offer rapid delivery windows, sometimes within hours.

These trends in order fulfilment demonstrate a dynamic shift towards integration, automation, sustainability, and flexibility in the UK’s retail supply chain. By embracing these trends, retailers are not only enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction but also future-proofing their supply chains against the fast-changing retail landscape. This progression towards a more resilient and consumer-responsive supply chain is setting a new standard in retail fulfilment that others are likely to follow.

Are you searching for Order Fulfilment partners for your business? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help!

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

How integrative approaches and digitalisation have transformed 4PL

Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) supply chain management services have undergone substantial shifts in their operational paradigms in recent year. As businesses sought more extensive and integrated solutions, 4PL providers adapted and innovated, often driven by technological advancements and changing market dynamics. Here we trace the pivotal transformations in 4PL supply chain management, based on input for delegates and suppliers at the Total Supply Chain Summit…

  1. Digitalisation and Data-Driven Decision Making: One of the most prominent evolutions in 4PL services is the adoption of digital tools and technologies. The past decade has witnessed the incorporation of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. These tools help in predictive analytics, ensuring better forecasting, and optimising operations, thus ensuring seamless supply chain management.
  2. End-to-End Integration: Historically, 4PL providers focused on coordinating various logistics service providers. Over the last decade, the emphasis has shifted to a more holistic, end-to-end integration, creating a singular entity that offers comprehensive supply chain solutions.
  3. Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing: With growing consumer awareness and regulatory pressures, sustainability has become paramount. Modern 4PL providers not only emphasise efficient logistics but also ensure environmentally friendly and ethically sound supply chain practices, integrating green initiatives into their core strategies.
  4. Customer-Centricity: The competitive landscape of the past decade has pushed 4PL providers towards a more customer-centric model. Tailored solutions, transparency, real-time communication, and a focus on enhancing the end-customer experience have become standard offerings.
  5. Risk Management and Resilience: Recent global events, including trade wars and the pandemic, have highlighted the need for robust risk management strategies. The past decade has seen 4PLs prioritising contingency planning, diversifying supplier bases, and developing agile models that can adapt to changing circumstances.
  6. Collaborative Partnerships: 4PLs have evolved from being mere service providers to collaborative partners. There’s an increased emphasis on building long-term, strategic partnerships with businesses, ensuring mutual growth and adaptation in an ever-evolving market.
  7. E-commerce Integration: The e-commerce boom has reshaped supply chains. Recognising this, 4PL providers in the last decade have developed specialised solutions catering to e-commerce, ensuring faster deliveries, efficient returns management, and integrating tech tools for real-time tracking.
  8. Advanced Technologies Adoption: Beyond digitalisation, 4PLs have embraced advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) for real-time monitoring, blockchain for transparent and tamper-proof documentation, and autonomous vehicles and drones for deliveries.

The last decade has been transformative for 4PL supply chain management services. With a blend of technology, integrative approaches, and customer-centric models, 4PLs have redefined their roles, ensuring more efficient, responsive, and resilient supply chains. As the global market continues to evolve, 4PLs are poised to remain at the forefront, adapting and innovating in response to shifting needs and challenges.

Are you on the hunt for a 3PL partner for your business? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help!

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

CASE STUDY: Flooring manufacturer accelerates shuttle cycle between factory and warehouse with moving floor system

Finding new ways to optimise supply chain and logistics operations is crucial for companies today to maintain a competitive edge. Shuttling manufactured goods between the factory and the warehouse can be a significant drain on resources and one that is often overlooked. But not by prominent flooring manufacturer Bjelin.

As part of plans to future-proof its operation in Sweden, the company enlisted the help of Joloda Hydraroll, a global leader in loading solutions, and its Finnish distributor, NWE Network Engineering, to streamline the loading and unloading process, reduce carbon emissions, and uphold the highest safety standards.

Future-proofing for rapid growth

One of the world’s largest flooring producers, Bjelin was founded in 2016 by Darko Pervan, the Swedish-Croatian inventor and entrepreneur who developed and patented the first mechanical floor-locking system. In the eight years since, Bjelin has grown into a global company with more than 2,500 employees. The company’s biggest markets are Europe, the USA, and Asia, where it predominantly sells hardened wood, parquet (engineered wood), and herringbone flooring.

The wood used to manufacture its products is FSC-certified and responsibly sourced from Spacva forest in Croatia, Europe’s largest continuous oak forest. Bjelin has five factories located nearby in Croatia and one factory in Sweden.

To continue its rapid growth trajectory, Bjelin identified the need to future-proof its Swedish factory and operations. The facility has gone from producing 40,000 m2 in 2016 to 2.2 million m2 in 2022, and Bjelin wanted to create the capacity to produce up to five million m2 in the future.

Transporting heavy pallets of various shapes and sizes

As part of the future-proofing project, Bjelin required a loading solution that could streamline the transportation process between its factory and a newly-built warehouse. Reflecting on the project, Pär Jönsson, supply chain director at Bjelin, commented: “Our expansion plan is quite immense and we could foresee future challenges with unloading and loading.

“We needed to find a solution to help the process become as swift as possible, whilst also taking out some of the forklift truck traffic from the loading bays.”

Bjelin’s factory is located in Viken, Sweden, which is 23 km away from its new warehouse in Helsingborg. The company must constantly load and transport raw materials from the warehouse to the factory, then return pallets of finished wooden flooring to the combined warehouse and distribution centre.

Bjelin produces circa 200 pallets per day of various-sized finished goods, which amount to between seven and 10 trailer loads. It is estimated that manually side-loading and unloading the trailers with forklift trucks would have taken between 35-45 minutes at both the factory and the warehouse.

In addition, each trailer load weighs about 20 tonnes (20 pallets at one tonne each), so securing the loads in the trailer with ratchet straps is essential. However, this process is also time-consuming and labour-intensive. Due to the varying shapes and sizes of the pallets, truck drivers need to secure the loads by manually threading and tightening ratchet straps to the trailer, which adds to driver waiting times.

Moving floor system with automated cargo securing

After getting in touch with Joloda Hydraroll, a thorough loading assessment was undertaken to understand the challenges Bjelin was facing. The assessment took into consideration the new operation’s loading and unloading processes, the journey time between the factory and the warehouse, and the types of pallets being transported.

Joloda Hydraroll proposed its Moving Floor System, an innovative automated trailer-loading solution with motorised and adjustable slats to accommodate palletised items of different shapes and sizes. It is designed to optimise logistics operations by reducing the need for forklift trucks and additional manual labour during the loading process. To minimise the time spent securing the loads, Joloda Hydraroll also worked with its partner NWE and provider of the FIX Truck-Safe System, a cargo-securing system with automatic lashing and re-tightening.

Jönsson explained: “After we identified a solution, we got in touch with Joloda Hydraroll for a quotation and looked at the size and scope of the business to gauge whether they’d be a fit for us. One of the most important things was that we buy and use equipment from well-known suppliers that can provide a solution and a service that we can lean on going forward. They also had some interesting references in Sweden.

“We are always looking for bigger companies that can grow, support, and handle different challenges; Joloda ticked these boxes. We got a good connection with their staff, and we liked that they showed an interest and came to look at our premises to find a solution that would suit us.”

Fast and efficient loading

The implementation of the moving floor system brought about a transformation in Bjelin’s logistics operations, and the new automated loading process offered several key benefits.

  1. Streamlining operations between Viken and Helsingborg: The system’s motorised conveyor-like slats move pallets in and out of the trailer, enabling a full trailer to be loaded or unloaded within three minutes. In addition, it now takes just one minute to secure loads using the load securing system and only a few seconds to release them.

This combined reduction in loading and unloading time has allowed for more loads to be shuttled in a shorter period and with only a few members of staff. The complete shuttle cycle between the factory and the warehouse is more cost-effective as a result and now takes just one hour. This is a 70% reduction in the time it would have taken had Bjelin not implemented an automated loading system.

  1. Upholding a clean track record of no accidents: With no forklifts required during the trailer loading process, the loading bay is a safe working environment for all members of staff and visitors. Fencing has been installed around the loading docks in both the factory and the warehouse, and emergency stops, light guards, and scanners have been fitted to prevent staff from coming into contact with the system while it is in operation.
  1. Reducing the environmental impact of transportation: In line with Bjelin’s sustainability ethos, the loading system lowers carbon emissions by:

a. Optimising trailer space to get the most out of every journey.

b. Reducing truck idling time while it is being loaded and unloaded.

c. Reducing the number of forklift trucks in operation in the factory and warehouse.

  1. Optimising factory and warehouse space: Palletised goods no longer need to be stored near the loading bay doors ready to be loaded onto a returning trailer. Instead, they can be loaded onto alternate loading docks in preparation for the trailer’s return, freeing up space.
  1. Indoor Loading: Loading is now completed indoors within a sealed loading bay, meaning cold or wet weather conditions cannot interfere or risk goods sustaining damage while being transported to the trailer. Air conditions in both the factory and warehouse are also easier to control and regulate without the loading bay doors open, and less energy is required to maintain a consistent temperature.


Through its commitment to innovation, Bjelin now stands at the forefront of modern logistics. Implementing Joloda Hydraroll’s Moving Floor System combined with NWE’s FIX Truck-Safe System to automate loading and unloading processes between Viken and Helsingborg has improved efficiency, increased productivity, and created a more sustainable and scalable logistics operation fit for future growth.

SAVE THE DATE: Total Supply Chain Summit – May 2024

If you couldn’t make last week’s Total Supply Chain Summit, don’t panic! The first of our 2023 events will take place on May 13th & 14th 2024. It’s free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you up with innovative suppliers who match your business requirements. So register today to secure your place (live and virtual attendance options are available). Here’s why you should attend:
  • As one of our guests, you will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of face-to-face meetings with suppliers based on mutual agreement. No hard sell, and no time wasted.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to attend insightful seminars and interactive workshops.
  • Network with 60+ other supply chain professionals who share your challenges.
  • Enjoy complimentary lunch and refreshments.
Taking place at the Radisson Red Hotel & Conference Centre Heathrow, the Total Supply Chain Summit provides a platform for new business connections. But act swiftly! Register today!