Australian e-commerce fulfilment company eStore Logistics has committed to a 12,515sqm warehouse in LOGOS Property’s Marsden Park in New South Wales.
The company’s current clients include Kogan.com, Temple and Webster, Hairhouse Warehouse, Patagonia, Dick Smith and Essendon Football Club.
“This expansion highlights our rapid growth, driven by our market leading proprietary IT and omnichannel fulfilment service and solutions,” said Leigh Williams, Managing Director, eStore Logistics.
“Our new facility in Marsden Park will feature world-leading logistics systems that support robust e-commerce fulfilment processes. We have complex algorithms which minimise manual handling and human decision making while maximising accuracy. We’re excited to be expanding our business and making our services available to more online retailers and enabling them to get orders to their customers super-fast at low cost.”
Supply chain consultancy TM Insight carried out design work for the facility.
“We partnered with eStore Logistics to design a facility that maximised storage density, but also allowed for approximately 30 per cent of the warehouse footprint to be allocated for product staging and returns,” said Travis Erridge, Director, TM Insight. “It is pivotal that sufficient footprint is designated to product staging and returns, as it is an inherent challenge in the e-commerce landscape.
“Despite the allowance for a significant percentage of floor area being allocated to product staging and returns, the TM Insight design enabled eStore Logistics to achieve 1.5 pallets per square metre of floor area, well above the ratio that most 3PLs (third-party logistics operators) adopt in their operations.”
The facility will be operational in November 2018 and will have an end value of approximately $25 million.
Privately owned on-premises liquor wholesaler, Paramount Liquor, has made large-scale use of refurbished Linde Material Handling forklifts to help minimise costs in a highly competitive industry.
The family company competes successfully in a market contested by major local and overseas players.
Paramount Liquor founder Mark Rowe has seen plenty of competitors in the on-premises wholesale liquor business fail over the last three decades, but his business has succeeded and expanded.
One of the key decisions Mark has made in the last 18 months has been to rely on refurbished Linde forklifts and reach trucks. The business now has 30 of them at its Melbourne and Sydney warehouses.
“We don’t lease anything,” says Mark. “We own everything we’ve got, including buildings.
“My experience has been that maintenance costs on the used Linde equipment we run still come in below what our outgoings would be to purchase or lease new equipment.”
Mark adds that the company constantly adapts to the marketplace in order to outperform its competitors. “As a family company Paramount Liquor has the advantage of rapid decision-making – the buck stops with me,” he says.
“I always strive to reduce my costs so if I am offered a good deal on refurbished equipment, as I always have been with Linde, I’ll go for it.”
Paramount Liquor has built its reputation on a commitment to service and reliability, so looks for those characteristics in its own suppliers, Mark explains.
“We have a good relationship with Linde,” he adds. “They understand our business and provide us with refurbished forklifts capable of handling the workload we place on them. Given their reliability and quality in our circumstances, we consider that we get best possible value by purchasing refurbished equipment.”
Paramount Liquor purchases used Linde forklifts under 10 years old, and generally with around 6,000 to 8,000 hours on the hour meter. Often, the refurbishment process includes provision of a new battery.
The company’s 16,000sqm Melbourne warehouse runs a mixture of 30 Linde electric forklifts and reach trucks operating at high tempo in a wide-aisle environment, with racking up to nine metres high. A smaller Sydney warehouse also runs used Linde equipment.
Refurbished Linde trucks stack up
“Our demands are very straightforward,” says Mike. “We look for good reliability and equipment that is easy to use. We are always busy, but we work around the clock four days per week. At those times, we use opportunity charging and we have never had a problem with our Linde trucks running out of charge.
“Over the years, we have looked at other forklift brands, but we’ve never had reason to change since switching to Linde. They suit our purposes. We keep each of them until they reach the point that they are no longer worth repairing.”
Mak adds that the company has a strong relation with Linde. “Whenever we need equipment I call Linde,” he says. “They’ve come to know our business, know what we want and have always been able to source it for us. When we have had need to call Linde technicians they have appeared promptly.”
Linde notes that it manages its relationship with Paramount Liquor not simply in an order-taking role, but by anticipating and understanding Paramount’s needs and by offering solutions that give the expanding wholesaler the power to choose Linde products that will suit it best.
Find out more about Linde pre-owned forklift solutions.
3PL firm GEODIS has improved efficiency and accuracy for online women’s apparel retailer while addressing labour market concerns.
To address the record-low unemployment rate (~3%) and the strain on labour during peak seasons, GEODIS and a major online women’s apparel client partnered to pilot collaborative each-picking using 30 autonomous mobile robots from Locus Robotics in a 13,000 sqm warehouse in Indianapolis, USA. The location handles over 30,000 SKU and uses a manual picking process that is complex and leaves little margin for error.
The results have been staggering, the company says. Now, 80% of the units are picked to the robots daily. Employee productivity has doubled and there was at least 50% reduction in time to train new employees. GEODIS is now looking to expand the partnership with Locus Robotics in more warehouses with their retail and ecommerce customers.
“Our mission is to help our clients succeed by overcoming their logistical constraints and we are committed to innovative solutions for our customers to address industry-wide challenges,” said Marie-Christine Lombard, GEODIS chief executive officer. “The labour market is tight, especially during peak seasons, and we want to enable our team to better execute for our customers. And in this case, the technological support of robots effectively solved the challenge.”
The success of the pilot started with simplifying GEODIS employee training. Rather than spending hours in the classroom, team members were instructed on how to pick to the robots on the warehouse floor, completing the training within a matter of minutes. The messaging on the robots is displayed in their preferred languages allowing for faster absorption of training and a decrease in picking errors. Picking units to the robots also reduced physical demand by eliminating the need to pull pick carts and decreasing overall travel.
Aqualuma, expert in LED lighting solutions for commercial and marine applications, will exhibit at MEGATRANS2018 – a new trade show focusing on the national and international supply chain.
The business specialises in a range of LED products for the wider industrial sector, including for warehouses, cold stores and exterior applications to name a few.
NTP Forklifts Australia has officially launched its new facility in Huntingwood, New South Wales.
Customers, suppliers and equipment manufacturers attended the opening of the 14,590sqm site, which is almost double the size of NTP’s previous facility in Granville.
The site features a 7,900sqm under-cover warehouse, a 1,000m parts warehouse, eight-metre high racking and an indoor wash bay.
“A lot of hard work by our staff was required to ensure our new facility would cater to all out customers,” said Greg Sharp, General Manager – Sydney Branch, NTP Forklifts Australia. “The Open Day was a great opportunity for customers, suppliers and our equipment manufacturers to tour our new facility, view our extensive range of equipment and engage in product demonstrations.”
Damien Garvey, Managing Director, NTP Forklifts Australia, added: “We are very proud to officially open our new Sydney premise and to present our extensive range of world-leading material handling equipment to a larger audience.
“This investment demonstrates our company’s future commitment to our staff, the New South Wales market and more importantly to our growing customer base.”
Industrial builder Vaughan Constructions has begun work on the new Australian headquarters and distribution centre of air-conditioner manufacturer Fujitsu General Australia.
The five-star Green Star energy–rated development is being built in Eastern Creek in Western Sydney, New South Wales.
The 11,093sqm facility will house Fujitsu General Australia’s head office, 8,500sqm distribution warehouse and the company’s support service, Fujitsu General Assist.
“The development will provide space and resource for Fujitsu General’s continued growth in the air-conditioning market,” said Philip Perham, Managing Director, Fujitsu General Australia.
“The building design has a five-star Green Star rating and follows the company’s sustainability philosophy, to ensure we continue to safeguard a rich natural environment for future generations.”
Andrew Noble, Managing Director of Vaughan Constructions, added: “This pivotal piece of infrastructure will not only support the operational needs of Fujitsu General, but provides a superior work environment with exceptional staff facilities.”
Fujitsu General has signed a ten-year lease from site landlord Jacfin, who appointed Vaughan Constructions for the multimillion-dollar development.
Vaughan Constructions and Fujitsu General consulted Sydney-based design firm ODCM on the design concept for the facility, which is expected to be completed in December 2018.
(L–R) Ray Waterhouse (Jacfin), Priscilla Waterhouse (Jacfin), Philip Perham (Fujitsu General Australia), Mark Taylor (Fujitsu General Australia) and Andrew Noble (Vaughan Constructions) at the sod-turning ceremony on 15 February 2018.
One Australian logistics professional has launched her own networking events to encourage, mentor and champion women working in the industry.
After noticing that men were overrepresented at networking events she was attending in Brisbane, Queensland, logistics professional Melissa McDonald decided to create a unique space for women in the industry to meet, share knowledge and gain confidence.
“Nowadays, networking is for everyone, not just salespeople,” she says. “Everyone needs to build a personal brand. At a lot of networking events, women are the minority so I wanted to create one where they could feel comfortable, share their knowledge and experience and improve their networking skills. I love this industry and wanted to give back.”
The events, dubbed ‘Women in Logistics (BNE), have been supported by Melissa’s employer – procurement company Lasso, and logistics company Qube. The women-only sessions feature cocktails, snacks, industry speakers and networking practice.
“Networking is a necessary and long-term commitment,” she says. “Knowing how to network effectively and to push yourself outside your comfort zone can be very rewarding. Networking is the first step to embarking on a trusting relationship with someone new.”
In 2018, Melissa intends to hold Women in Logistics (BNE) every quarter, bringing together professionals from freight forwarding, airlines, shipping lines, warehousing, trucking, government, defence, import/export, procurement – across the supply chain.
“I put a lot of thought, time and effort into the events, and it’s important to me that attendees enjoy themselves and leave feeling more empowered,” she says.
“I get a lot of great feedback from women who feel more confident after attending, having connected with other women who have similar stories – both good and bad. It’s a comfort to them to know that other women have these experiences – they unite us.”
Striking the balance
Melissa notes that while companies are increasingly recognising gender imbalance, the industry as a whole still has a long way to go. “The industry needs to be more inclusive – the ‘boys club’ mentality still very much exists,” she says. “As a result, there is a massive disconnect between the job opportunities secured by men and women, and other issues like the pay gap.”
Getting women and men on an equal footing will require a concerted effort by both genders, she notes. “Women need to be more forward and vocal,” she says. “Sometimes you just need to tell your managers – whether men or women – what you want, how you want to progress – they’re not mind readers.
“Be open and honest and they may be able to help you get to where you want to go.”
Alongside this, she recommends that women make an effort to network effectively and often. “Join industry networking events and local business networking groups to build your brand – and make time to go,” she says.
Men can help propel their female colleagues by inspiring confidence in them, Melissa adds. “Talk to your female employees, colleagues and managers about personal development or career advancement that they would like to undertake, and help them form a plan to achieve it,” she says, though she notes that those in leadership positions are crucial to effecting change. “Management is hugely important,” says Melissa. “They set the tone for the company, so if male and female managers lead by example it will happen organically.”
Through Women in Logistics (BNE), Melissa has started to mentor younger, professional women. “I have not really had a mentor per se, though there have been male and female individuals that have supported, advised and inspired me along the way,” she says. Her career in logistics has been driven by passion, and she is keen to help clear the way for those still finding their own path in the industry. “I fell into logistics at age 18, working a job part time while studying at university,” says Melissa. “I discovered I loved the industry – it opened my eyes to all of the moving pieces in logistics. I then went on to study and gain the theoretical knowledge to back up my practical knowledge.
“During my career, I have had to learn a lot of things the hard way – on my own. I think that mentors are important and valuable to career progression, however I think they are hard to find. I have not heard of many people within logistics having a mentor, which is why I offer my help to the women that attend the networking events.”
Melissa hopes that her Women in Industry (BNE) networking events will inspire others with the means to nurture young female talent in male-dominated industries, and that – ultimately – small actions such as providing networking opportunities and prompting meaningful discussions will help lead to valuable change. “I want to help change the way women are seen, managed and respected, by themselves, their colleagues and industry peers,” says Melissa. “The way this is going to happen is by getting more women in higher management positions, with the power to effect change – and to get to that point we need to ignite those ambitions today.”
Are all warehouses the same? Short answer: no, but yes!
This contradiction in terms is probably best explained by the Thai phrase; ‘Same same, but different’. This phrase is used widely in Thailand to explain to naïve tourists (such as myself) the similarities between one product and another.
Let me explain.
Yes, warehouses are the same in 7 key respects. They share 7 key processes. Two relate to inwards flow, (yellow), three to outwards flow (green), plus returns and value adding. Same same!
Now here is the ‘different’ part.
There is a plethora of nuances in how each process is physically conducted and electronically controlled. For example, two competitors with the same products will often have different ways of doing things. Idiosyncrasies across industries adds further diversity. Even third-party logistics companies do things differently.
The SCOR model and companies such as GS1 have blueprints of key processes using barcoding and radio frequency controls, which offer standard ways of reading and recording data, but the physical materials handling logistics and ways of doing things in each warehouse are somewhat unique to each business. This is driven by factors including magnitude of the warehouse operation, storage capacity, temperature, order profiles, legislative requirements, company culture, and volume of goods moving through the facility.
So, what are the key processes and how are they handled?
The act of handling products into a warehouse and onto a system. Receipts may be for single products, objects, litres, cartons, packets, crates, kilograms or full pallets. Items maybe large such as pallets, or as small as a split pin. The best way to receive products is via an Advance Shipping Notice (ASN) from a supplier. With this information on system, operators can scan consignment barcodes to bring up the ASN. If the delivery matches the ASN, then goods can be system-received. But at this point they are still at staging, albeit ready for put-away. Some systems allow for goods to be received into inventory at this point, whereas others require the goods to be delivered to a specific stock location before inventory is updated. This depends entirely on the customer requirements and how the system is set up.
Lesson: Organise ASN on your system for automatic receiving and put-away. Ideally, use RF equipment for scanning and updating your management systems.
A good system will prompt put-away staff with a note indicating that stock is in staging waiting to be transported to a storage location. The process commences when operators accept the put-away task from the Enterprise Resource Program (ERP) or Warehouse Management System (WMS), and then scanning the relevant barcode of goods to be put away. If there is no barcode, then a manual entry can confirm that the goods have been identified. At this point the system will be directing the put-away staff to deliver goods to the relevant storage location. Once at the location, the operator will either scan the relevant stock location barcode, or manually confirm that the correct location has been found, then place the goods into the slot before confirming that the put-away process is complete.
Lesson: Use a system that can direct put-away to vacant slots according to demand of the goods.
There are two main types of picking.
Primary. This is the first picking of goods. In some cases, the first picking is delivered directly to a staging area or packing bench for finalisation, consigning and dispatching, thus the first picking becomes the last picking.
Secondary: This is a second picking process. Some primary picks are subject to a second picking process, particularly where picked goods must be allocated to clustered orders (bunch of orders), or discrete orders (single orders) via a sortation process or system. With the boom in online sales across many industries, far more companies are conducting secondary picking processes than ever before.
Once orders are received, it is common for orders to be released ‘real-time’ or in ‘waves’. Real-time orders are downloaded as they are received. Orders accumulated for specific picking times and transport routes are called ‘waves’.
Waves can be released at the discretion of the DC manager according to criteria that they determine. As alluded to above, picking may be discrete, i.e. one order at a time, clustered, i.e. multiple orders at a time, or batched, i.e. picking all the goods at once to sort to specific customer orders.
Often, companies may use all three types of picking. With increasing online orders, companies are increasingly installing picking apparatus such as put walls, put-to-light systems, goods-to-person systems and cross-belt sortation systems, to cope with the larger volume of small orders.
What about accuracy of picking? This is one of the most common questions asked by warehouse managers. Should you scan the product or location, or both during picking?
This depends largely on the degree of accuracy required. If both are scanned accuracy increases, but picking velocity will be lower compared to simply scanning the location. Where voice systems are used, no scanning will be used, but check digits at the location serve to ensure the operator is at the correct location. Voice picking obviates the need to scan at all, but with a touch of risk. The risk lies in the operator achieving the right count, upon picking, without making a mistake.
While companies worry about the accuracy issue, evidence suggests that voice picking and/or scanning the location only, gives a surprisingly high level of accuracy, without impeding picking velocity. For ‘accuracy intensive’ warehouses, accuracy can be enhanced by a statistical sample of QA checks, normally around 10 to 20% of orders.
Lesson: Picking uses a large amount of resources, and can reflect around 60% or more of warehouse staff. Smart picking systems and WMS are a must for increasingly complex businesses.
There are scores of ways that goods are packed within distribution centres. Rather than delve into the specific details of packing processes, it’s suffice to follow five rules for successful packing:
- Goods picked must be traceable in terms of location from which they are picked, plus relevant ‘use-by’ dates and/or ‘batch’ dates and codes.
- Accuracy and QA checks must be built into the process.
- Goods picking from different zones within the warehouse must be easily ‘combined’ and system-managed to ensure order completeness.
- Goods must be packed according to their size, quantity, temperature, toxicity, value, fragility, hygiene and legislative requirements.
- Consignments must always be system-traceable to documents and/or invoice numbers for future traceability.
The successful art of dispatch lies in the operation’s ability to have goods ready for departure, just in time for carriers to load their trucks. The DC manager must therefore balance and forecast packing and dispatching according to carrier pick-up times. Goods that are ready too early, for example, will clutter staging areas, while dispatches that are late, will delay loading and potentially cause late deliveries.
As indicated earlier, many firms resort to using their systems to release orders, for picking and packing in waves, aligned to specific delivery routes or carrier types.
Lesson: Avoid jambs and late deliveries by scheduling picking waves to align with carrier picking up times.
This is something most companies wish will just disappear! However, returns are an intricate part of most businesses, and alas, the volume of returns is growing for many organisations – mainly due to the e-commerce revolution. Alarmingly, much of returns for many firms is for just one item at a time.
The complexity around handling returns mandates the following rules:
- When customers return goods, they should seek, and be given Return Management Authorisation, which outlines what is being returned and why.
- All returns must be traceable, to their order, document and invoice.
- Companies must have a pre-determined returns process that delineates what is to be done with the goods once received back into the warehouse, e.g. return to stock, repair, destroy, discard, recycle, return to manufacturer, etc.
- All credits must be system-recorded together with reasons why the goods are returned.
- Inventory must be updated where goods are returned to stock, or held for further action.
Lesson: Returns is a complex part of any business. A defined process must be in place that accurately and reliably records the whole transaction and credit process.
This is the part of the business where products are produced, kitted, assembled, relabelled, modified, ‘burnt-in’, or subject to some other value adding process. The value adding part is about performing work on the product to make it ‘ready for sale’.
This process of value-adding can be complex, particularly when many different items are combined to form a new product. Complexity around handling value-adding processes and the changing nature of component products in and out of shelf locations can be daunting. Over the years, systems have evolved to assist, yet there are many companies that find recording of value-adding inputs and outputs a significant challenge, as the value-adding components may be incompatible with how the logistics system or conventional ERP or WMS have been set up.
Lesson: Review your value-adding processes and make sure that your system can handle the requisite activities and transactions.
So, there you have it, 7 key processes that are ‘same same’, yet ‘different’ for each organisation.
From the above, you will realise that modern distribution centre supply chains are a complex mass of processes, activities and transactions. All of which must be individually crafted by humans to make your warehouse operate effectively
The days of using a pad and pencil or even a spreadsheet to manage warehouse functions don’t seem very long ago, yet the unrelenting technology improvement and complexity of modern-day business dictates that companies invest in appropriate ERP and WMS systems to remain competitive. Equally important is that they are correctly configured to the ‘different’ aspects of your business.
Mal Walker is the manager, consulting, at the Logistics Bureau. For more information contact Mal on 0412 271 503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Australian cold-chain logistics provider Swire Cold Storage has sold its business, including 15 warehouses, customer and employee contracts and land, to US refrigeration technology company Emergent Cold, the Australian Financial Review reports.
Swire Cold Storage’s network covers over 65 million cubic feet (275,000 pallet spaces) of refrigerated storage, in 15 facilities across Australia.
The deal reportedly went through before Christmas, though financial terms have not been disclosed.
Emergent Cold also acquired Swire’s Vietnamese cold-storage business in the deal.
Emergent Cold was founded in May 2017 by Neal Rider, former President of US cold-storage behemoth Americold Logistics.
Emergent Cold’s LinkedIn page already reflects the acquisition, calling the company, “the market leader in Australia, with capacity for 320,000 pallets in 75+ million cubic feet of temperature-controlled space, ranging from fully automated high rise to traditional sites.”
“Over the past 60 years, Swire has built the leading cold storage businesses in Australia and Vietnam through dedicated service to customers, commitment to employees and investment in high-quality operations,” said Rider.
“We are excited to partner with this outstanding management team, and we look forward to supporting the continued growth and expansion of the businesses throughout Asia Pacific as part of Emergent Cold.”