A new dawn for route optimisation

Richard Savoie, CEO of Adiona Tech, says the company’s route optimisation platform solves many of the traditional problems in the field, opening up route efficiency for organisations small and large. 

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Lifting their inside game

As Australia’s largest e-commerce warehousing and order fulfilment provider, eStore Logistics treats every square metre of floor space as a valuable commodity. The Combilift Aisle Master articulated forklift helps lift their inside game through the use of very narrow aisle racking, freeing up critical floor space for robotic automation handling operations. 

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UPS launches its new UPS My Choice for SMBs

UPS began onboarding customers for its new UPS My Choice for business service in the US. According to UPS, this is the first visibility and tracking solution in the US designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Read more

New CEO for DHL Express Europe

DHL Express has appointed Alberto Nobis as its new CEO for Europe, paving the way for his return to the Global Management Board of DHL Express.
ALberto was the Global CFO for DHL Express from 2009 to 2012 before relocating to his home country of Italy in 2013. As CEO DHL Express Italy, Alberto Nobis helped to drive the division’s growth in the Italian market. Effective January 1, 2019, he has taken over responsibility for Express Europe from John Pearson, who became the Global CEO of DHL Express.
“For DHL Express, quality and growth are the pillars of our past and future success. Since his move to Italy as Managing Director, Alberto has proven that he is capable focusing on both. His efforts to push the Express Italy business on all fronts have contributed to Italy becoming one of our largest market and one in which we expect continuing high performance. We are looking forward to seeing Alberto use his in-depth expertise to take DHL Express to the next level of its growth Europe-wide in 2019 and beyond,” John Pearson, Global CEO DHL Express said.
Alberto has over 10 years of experience at DHL Express, including several management positions as CFO and CEO for the time-definite shipping provider of the Deutsche Post DHL Group. In his new role, he is responsible for almost 50 countries in Europe with focus on the Region’s performance across the four dimensions that define the strategy: people at the core are motivated to provide great service quality, with a direct positive impact on customers’ loyalty and, finally, on DHL’s network profitability.
“It is both a great honor and an exciting challenge to be appointed CEO for DHLExpress Europe. In this position, I can count on the decade of experience I’ve gained at DHL Express and on the support of our people and network to increase our performance for customers throughout Europe. I am greatly looking forward to working with John to achieve the next level of growth for DHL Express,” Alberto Nobis, CEO Europe at DHL Express said.

Spotlight on: Outsourcing transport and warehousing

Mal Walker

Over the last 20-25 years, outsourcing of logistics activities to third-party logistics service providers has become increasingly popular.
Key findings of the 2016 Third-Party Logistics Study: The State of Logistics Outsourcing (J Langley and Cap Gemini) indicate the following:

  • Although economic conditions vary significantly among countries and regions of the world, modest improvements have been experienced in many key areas. Armstrong & Associates reported aggregate global revenues for the 3PL sector growing by 9.9% from 2011 to 2012, 2.7% from 2012 to 2013, and by 6.5% from 2013 to 2014.
  • Users of 3PL services report an average of 50% of their total logistics expenditures are related to outsourcing compared to an average of 36% reported last year. This increase helps explain how improving economic conditions have impacted aggregate shipper spending on 3PL services as a percentage of total logistics expenditures.
  • This year’s Annual Third-Party Logistics Study reports that 73% of the shippers surveyed are increasing their use of outsourced logistics services, while 35% report a return to insourcing many of their logistics activities.

With an expanding sector, and increased expenditure on third-party logistics, why is that 35% are returning to insourcing? What have they discovered, or struggled with, to the extent that its driven them back to insourcing?

“Warehouses and vehicles are expensive to purchase or lease and can tie up millions of dollars that could otherwise be invested in the core business of the firm.”

In this article I will outline, firstly, the reasons why organisations outsource logistics activities, and secondly, what the key drivers are for outsourcing success.
Why do organisations outsource logistics operations?
There are many apparent motives why companies outsource, but from my experience there are four principal reasons:

  1. Warehousing and distribution management is not a ‘core’ skill.

Peters and Waterman in their best seller In Search for Excellence identify one of the eight factors of organisational success as ‘sticking to the knitting’. They warn that companies that stray from their core business risk their employees’ attention being diverted from that business to the point where they lose focus.
Many enterprises have taken heed and determined that inbound and outbound transport and warehousing are ‘consequential’ processes of their business, rather than ‘fundamental’ or ‘core’ processes. This has fuelled growth of the third-party outsourcing industry and expansion of scores of logistics service providers.
While many logistics service providers commenced as transport companies, they have diversified to engage in contract warehousing logistics, freight forwarding plus many other value adding services. On a world scale there are thousands of providers offering third-party services, yet there are only a handful of very large ones with the ability, network, systems and infrastructure needed for multinational customers. The top ten are:

Company USD Millions
DHL Supply Chain 17,748
CEVA 4,933
Kuehne + Nagel 4,047
Wincanton 3,794
CAT Logistics 3,744
Penske Logistics 3,282
UPS Supply Chain Services 2,990
FIEGE Logistik 2,684
DB Schenker Logistics 2,338
Ryder System 2,318

Source: Transport Intelligence
Choosing the right provider to use typically depends on the local and/or international scale of the customers, and alignment with the size and geographic spread of the logistic service provider.

  1. Performance is sub-optimal

Related to the ‘core skill’ issue, often organisations that have a strategic focus, other than in transport or warehousing, cannot attain the desired performance levels and key performance indicators (KPI) required by their customers. For example, companies that have their own in-house vehicle fleets often struggle to deliver products on time.
For instance, a service ratio of less than 98% of deliveries delivered on time is a major issue for modern consumers as they have become far more demanding. Merely dealing with the complexity of transport networks, contractors, inventories, industrial unions, and cost control is tough enough for many enterprises, so achieving 98% on-time performance is, for some, just a dream.
On the warehousing front, checking performance against just a few industry KPI can quickly help managers determine how effective their operations are. Telling signs are low levels of inventory accuracy, low stock turns and low order output ratios per labour hour, high levels of unexplainable losses or damage to goods, high operating costs, customer performance complaints and high employee turnover. When these signs are evident firms often choose to outsource rather than waste time developing their own remedies.

  1. Reduction in asset capital

Warehouses and vehicles are expensive to purchase or lease and can tie up millions of dollars that could otherwise be invested in the core business of the firm. Consequently, there is a trend for firms to remove warehouse assets from the balance sheet and redirect capital gained from the sale of assets to working capital and/or core asset investments. In choosing to outsource, firms can therefore transfer all the costs of distribution to their profit and loss account. This is a blessing for third-party logistics providers that have won large amounts of new business for this reason alone.

  1. Flexibility and scalability

With the advent of e-commerce, increasing globalisation and rationalisation of industries, today’s Australian market place demands fast, flexible and efficient supply chains. Coupled with shorter strategic planning horizons, the use of logistics service providers gives organisations flexibility to expand or change their method to market and volumes handled with almost immediate effect. Enterprises will typically negotiate one- to two-year agreements with Termination for Convenience exit clauses in case they wish to change their short- to medium-term strategy to market. It is simply not possible to respond quickly to market changes if there is a fully owned or leased network of warehouse and transport assets in place.

But what about cost of service?
Surprisingly cost of service, although important, is seldom a deciding factor, or driver for outsourcing decisions.
Why? Very rarely do companies save money through merely ‘outsourcing’ warehousing and transport. They may attain savings over a period e.g. 3-5 years, but not simply from the ‘act’ of outsourcing. The reason is elementary. Third-party logistics companies must pay almost the same operating costs as other organisations (sometimes more). While they do develop purchasing power and discount rates with transport sub-contractors and other vendors, there is often little disparity between the costs of a logistics service provider and would be customers. Why? The provider must add a margin to their costs to be profitable. In my experience the profit margin can range from 7-15%. This means that if a firm is seeking to bank savings after outsourcing they may well be disappointed. As a rule of thumb, companies can expect to pay from 10-20% more than current costs for outsourcing. You will recall the four reasons for outsourcing, to which cost is subservient. However, cost is a critical factor in judging the value proposition of potential providers who are quoting to do the work and in their ultimate appointment. So, to be clear, cost is not a reason to outsource, but a means to assist the decision as to whom to outsource.

“As a rule of thumb, no more than six KPI should be used. But make sure you choose the ones that are most meaningful to your business.”

What are the key drivers for success in establishing a good customer and 3PL relationship?

  1. Strategic alignment

The outsourcing decision must align with the company’s strategic direction. This is a ‘common-sense’ statement, but unfortunately not well practiced. Amazingly, many companies have suffered after outsourcing decisions were made at an operational level, without due regard to the board’s supply chain strategy.
Alas, in some cases, there is no supply chain strategy to speak of. This can cause organisational stress and is a nightmare to remedy after contracts are established. These days, third-party providers are aware that their clients may be deficient in strategy formulation, so they include clauses in contracts that enable them to change pricing and performance mechanisms if a change in company strategy or method to market occurs.

  1. Attention to detail

When seeking third-party quotations and contracts, there is no room for intuition, or best guesses on order velocities, volumes, processes and service requirements. Very detailed specifications must be prepared by enterprises with full disclosure of all available data before a quotation from service providers is attained. There is rarely too much information that you can gather. But where there is an absence of sensible interpretation of data, this can cause major issues in the outsourcing relationship.
Surprisingly, some companies agree to pricing mechanisms that are based on Customer Cost of Goods Sold, Volume Sold or Percent of Revenue. On the surface these appear to be simple pricing gauges, but often they force one party, either the customer or logistics service provider to prosper or lose unfairly. The supply chain interactions of physical movement and electronic information is complex and overly simple charging mechanisms deserve scrutiny as they can lead to disputes if one or the other party decides that they are being ripped off.

  1. Resource wisely

Both during implementation and the ongoing partnership a competent team is essential. Both the customer and the third-party logistics company must create an open and trusting working relationship. Each company’s team should include senior relationship managers from across the organisations, who meet regularly to discuss and monitor progress and performance.
Too often, once an agreement is signed implementation is left under the stewardship of the logistics service provider. This is a mistake. It must be a joint exercise. The best implementations are those that have a key member of the customer on the team to lead, organise and develop the relationship to full implementation with the provider. Such implementations are usually augmented by robust project management methods to ensure that all milestones are achieved.

  1. Raise potential issues early

From my experience, issues that are not dealt with proactively and in good time can fester into ‘relationship breakers’ and end in disaster. Therefore both parties should take a long-term perspective and be mature in their outlook and approach, always avoiding disrespectful behaviour to the other party. It never helps if one party is kicking the other. During implementation planning phases representatives from each company should meet weekly to discuss implementation tasks. Some may argue that this is too often, but in my experience the regularity maintains momentum and full attention to successful outcomes.

  1. Use KPI to manage

The contract and agreement should be subject to regular reviews of KPI. Data speaks volumes in terms of performance. For both warehousing and transport, KPI should be agreed at the outset. Typical measures include delivery in full on time, goods lost in transit, stock damage, ullage (unexplained loss or damage), inventory accuracy, time to receive goods, and time to dispatch goods.
As a rule of thumb, no more than six KPI should be used. But make sure you choose the ones that are most meaningful to your business. In this way, a focus on the ‘facts’ can help remove ‘emotionally charged’ opinions or feelings by either party.
Whether you are an organisation seeking to outsource, or a third-party logistics provider, by following these tips you will be equipped to enter into an outsourcing agreement that is ‘fertile for growth, and well placed to build into a mature and successful partnership.
In my next article I will be covering the different types of outsourcing relationships and issues to be aware of when entering contracts.
Mal Walker is manager, consulting with Logistics Bureau where he works with local and international organisations to guide them in specification preparation, establishment and review of outsourcing contracts. For more information contact Mal on 0412 271 503 or email

eBay teams up with Australia Post to fight Amazon

Australia Post has set up an e-commerce 3PL to handle e-commerce warehousing and deliveries.
Fulfilio is the new business of Australia Post, providing e-commerce software, warehousing, ‘pick-and-pack’, and delivery services tailored for e-commerce merchants. Fulfilio will provide warehousing locations across four major capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth), enabling inventory to be located as close to buyers as possible, and therefore ensuring faster delivery times. has now announced a partnership with Fulfilio to offer a national 3PL network to its sellers. The new service, eBay Fulfilment Partner, will provide eBay sellers with the best price to pick, pack and deliver their eBay orders, with distribution by Australia Post’s delivery network. There have been more than 53.2 million eBay parcels shipped domestically in last 12 months alone.
With a network of 40,000 Australian sellers and more than 11 million Australians visiting eBay each month, eBay says it is able to offer its sellers the best rates, helping them reduce costs, save time and remain competitive. For example, on 500g parcels sellers will pay rates as low as $5.74 for pick, pack and delivery for a cross-town service, and $6.83 for interstate service – saving sellers up to 30% on picking and delivery costs (based on industry averages across picking, packing and last-mile costs).
eBay’s senior director of product and shipping Dave Ramadge said: “At eBay our number one priority is to support the 40,000 Australian businesses that operate via In this partnership with Fulfilio and Australia Post, we are giving our sellers Australia’s most comprehensive delivery network with over 57,000 square metres of storage and distribution space across the country.
“We will continue to deliver sellers the lowest cost to pick, pack and deliver their eBay orders, so they can put their inventory closer to their customers and spend less time packing and more time selling.”

Forklift market to hit $256bn by 2024

According to a new growth forecast report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the material handling equipment market is growing at 5.5% CAGR to surpass USD 190 billion by 2024.
Growing automation capabilities in the manufacturing space coupled with increasing penetration of advanced technologies, such as IoT, RFID, and AI, are expected to drive the material handling equipment market growth. Automated material handling systems are gaining popularity with the growing inclination of industries to replace human labour with automated systems. RFID, IoT, and Automatic Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) technologies are becoming significantly popular as they improve order fulfilment processes and help enhance productivity across the supply chain. As human capital is becoming difficult to retain and recruit, automated material handling solutions are aiding companies in managing the labour challenges while ensuring profitability and productivity.
Rising labour costs in countries including China & India will support the material handling equipment market growth. The booming manufacturing sector in the region coupled, with high-cost labour, is compelling manufacturers to use sophisticated machinery to ensure high throughput in lesser time. Conventional manual techniques reduce productivity and lead to time consumption. Traditional techniques for material handling are also prone to errors caused by human fatigue. Moreover, they also pose a restriction to the amount of load that can be transferred or stored. Bulk material handling & storage systems and industrial trucks are facilitating the management of large volumes of goods, thereby reducing unnecessary time consumption.
Real-time technical challenges in the operation of these systems with the requirement of high capital investment are anticipated to negatively impact the material handling equipment market. The complexity involved in the integration of hardware and software for manufacturing facilities is restricting companies that have budgetary constraints from adopting these systems. Moreover, cybersecurity threats in these systems are also factors hindering industry growth.
The robotics segment of the material handling equipment market is expected to witness significant CAGR of over 8% to reach over USD 20 billion by 2024, owing to the demand for high-performance robotic systems across various industry verticals. Robots facilitate easy and fast pick & place of material, thereby ensuring accuracy and eliminating human involvement. The rising awareness about the advantages of automated systems globally will fuel the demand for robots across industries. Extensive R&D undertaken in the field of robotics & AI in countries including Japan and China is expected to fuel the material handling equipment market over the forecast period. The incorporation of machine learning capabilities in the robots to increase productivity with predictive maintenance further contributes to the industry demand.
3PL need them, too
The expanding 3PL sector globally is expected to witness a CAGR of over 6% in the material handling equipment market. The increasing complexity of supply chains is compelling businesses to turn towards 3PL service providers to ensure smooth and efficient operations. 3PL service providers are focusing on real-time systems for enhanced visibility. Furthermore, the flourishing durable manufacturing sector in countries including India and China is providing impetus to the market. The growing durable manufacturing industry adopting the latest technologies for production in countries including France and Germany will lead to a surge in demand for the equipment.
The developments in the manufacturing sector in countries such as Japan, China, and India are expected to propel the material handling equipment market growth. These systems are increasingly being adopted in warehouses and production facilities for automating all processes. The growing transportation & logistics industry in the US is providing growth opportunities to the industry valued at over USD 25 billion in 2017. The early technology adoption in the region and the ongoing R&D in the US will fuel the material handling equipment market demand. Stringent government regulations related to operator safety in Europe are compelling manufacturers to use high-quality machines that comply with the standards.
Key vendors in the material handling equipment market comprise Toyota, Crown Equipment, Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc., KUKA AG, Kion Group AG, JBT Corporation, Flexlink, Intelligrated, Inc., Dematic GmbH & Co., KG., Columbus McKinnon, and Daifuku Co., Ltd. Companies are trying to launch new designs and expand the product portfolio. The industry is characterised by strategic acquisitions and collaborations with technology providers to offer enhanced solutions. Players are developing manufacturing solutions that cater to specific industry demands and comply with the standards and regulations operating in the industry. Increasing investment in the R&D of new automation solutions will contribute to industry growth.

eStore Logistics commits to 12,500sqm NSW warehouse

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, 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.

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