Miele: back to basics for warehouse efficiency

When leading appliances brand Miele revitalised its Eastern Seaboard distribution network with a three-site redevelopment plan across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the focus was on getting the fundamentals right. Considering the company’s reputation for engineering prowess and innovative design, it should come as no surprise that they applied the same standards to their new distribution facilities – perfectly balanced form and function is in their DNA.
Whilst automation and robotics are being touted as supply chain solutions that would have been inconceivable a decade ago, they can also add complexity and distractions to the design process. Instead, Miele approached the design of its new warehouses with its unique sales model in mind.
Operations director Miele ANZ Mark Bateson explains: “Healthy growth in the Australian market was a key driver for change. We sought greater capacity while simultaneously strengthening consumer service and improving our operational efficiency.”
Unlike other appliance brands, the majority of Miele’s product lines are sold only through Miele Certified Agents (MCA) and items are not held in store but within Miele owned and operated distribution centres. The exceptions are vacuum cleaners and consumables (available for purchase online or instore) and are supplied direct from the retailer. Mr Bateson said keeping most of the operation in-house allows the company to have better control over its unique distribution model. And, he points out, better cost control and increased efficiency not only benefits the business but adds considerable value for the customer.
For the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne redevelopments, a ten-year view was applied to the planning process, and plans had to allow for a substantial increase in throughput during that time.
Following the completion of the Knoxfield facility in Melbourne in 2016, Miele commenced planning the new distribution centres for Brisbane and Sydney. Mr Bateson explained that this allowed them to test the Knoxfield design and capitalise on the learnings in a drive for further enhancements.
Consequently, Miele engaged the services of Siecap Supply Chain Advisory to revise the design parameters of the Sydney and Brisbane sites and to undertake a detailed evaluation of storage options and their associated economic costs. The team conducted visits to the Melbourne site to observe first-hand the level of utilisation and then digitally mapped the data using its custom design evaluation software.
Director of consulting for Siecap Geoffrey Knowles explained: “We wanted to tighten bay widths where possible and we trialled different options with a clamp forklift to guarantee operational feasibility.” The Siecap team also reviewed the positioning of forklifts and cross aisles for ease of flow, and the placement of staff amenities to reduce unnecessary travel and downtime. “Everyone who has worked in or managed a warehouse knows how annoying it is to have a pillar in the wrong place,” Mr Knowles said.
“We gave the developer an efficient block-stacking layout around which they could wrap the building structure,” explained Mr Knowles. “We settled on high-density block stacking as the most cost-effective system in terms of floor space and speed of put-away and retrieval.”
When compared with Siecap’s storage cost metrics, this design worked out to be 40 per cent more efficient than the next alternative of double-deep pallet storage configuration.
A leading racking supplier installed the pallet racking. The racking design for both the new sites was a non-standard configuration due to the Euro pallets used by Miele, and design compliance to Australian standards was ensured.
The economics of varying building heights were examined. The difference between an 8-metre and a 10-metre ceiling height came down to minimal increase in lease costs, so Miele went with the taller of the two options. By designing the most economical floorplan, storage density was increased by more than 5 per cent over Miele’s Keysborough facility in Melbourne. “It may not sound a lot but every centimetre we can squeeze out of the space has an exponential cost saving for our clients,” Mr Knowles pointed out.

The changing face of logistics in the Australian automotive sector

While Australia’s car manufacturing industry has closed after more than a century, other opportunities are opening in the sector for design and logistics.
In recent years, we have seen the closure of Toyota, General Motors Holden, Ford and Mitsubishi’s manufacturing plants. Since reports first surfaced of the planned closures back in 2013, many analysts have tried to quantify the subsequent fallout.
For the majority, there can be no glossing over the negative impact that the closures will have on the Australian economy. A report by the University of Adelaide estimates the industry collapse has put up to 200,000 jobs at risk across the nation and taken $29bn out of Australia’s GDP annually.
Global management consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group, now ranks Australia the worst performer among 25 nations assessed in its worldwide manufacturing cost-competitiveness index. Costs are higher than in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland and Australian manufacturing wages rose 48% in the past decade while productivity fell, it said.
The good news, however, is that Australia is reviving its automotive sector and making major contributions to the economy. For example, Toyota, Holden and Ford have all said they recognise the excellence of Australian vehicle designers and engineers. Ford has retained its production development centre and testing facility after it ceased manufacturing in 2016 and Holden has hinted that it will retain its global design studio.
In addition, the closure of automotive manufacturing has resulted in an investment in warehousing and distribution centres. For example, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have launched a shared warehousing and logistics operation in Australia realising synergies to be replicated and expanded across the world.
The new Alliance National Parts Distribution Centre is one of Australia’s largest automotive logistics facilities and managed by CEVA Logistics. At over 37,000 square metres in area, it will use industry-leading technologies and processes for the fast and efficient movement of automotive parts and accessories. “This is a milestone development and a future test case for their global operations,” said Adam Duncan, CEVA’s General Manager Sales – Contract Logistics.
Stow Australia is proud to have designed and installed the major component of the warehouse; the racking, conveyor and mezzanine floor solution. The mezzanine floor has 3 tiers and provides approximately 70,000 storage locations for automotive parts and accessories. A further 29,940 pallet locations were installed as part of the racking component.
Another investment example in warehousing is the new ‘state of the art’ headquarters and parts warehouse for truck market leader, Isuzu Australia. Stow Australia was successful in winning the competitive tender to design, manufacture and install the multi-functional racking and storage facility for Isuzu, following the completion of a successful Brisbane-based warehouse racking project for Isuzu in 2013/14. The storage solution includes more than 5000 pallet spaces for high bay, oversize and cab racking and more than 20,000 bin locations over two tiers.
According to Isuzu Australia Limited’s Chief Operating Officer Phil Taylor, the new facilities will equip the market leader for years to come. “The state-of-the-art facilities will perfectly reflect our operations in the future – as Isuzu aims to continue improving on 29 consecutive years of market leadership.”
Despite concerns amongst the general public, the automotive industry is still very much alive in Australian logistics.
At Stow Australia, we provide industry-specific products and solutions. This includes high quality European designed and manufactured steel selective racking to bear heavy loads, multi-level mezzanine storage areas for small parts, variable sized racking for odd-shaped stock and deep lane storage for automotive parts that don’t always need to be accessible. Every Automotive custom-designed solution is created with the customer to ensure it is highly efficient and fit for purpose.
Are you searching for the most efficient automotive warehouse storage solution? Talk to the experts. For more information about our products and services, visit the Stow website or call on 1800 438 786.

Global warehouse robotics market to be worth $8bn by 2025

The global warehouse robotics market is expected to reach AUD 8 billion by 2025.
The increasing importance of automation in the manufacturing sector is driving the market for robotics across the globe, according to a recent report released by Hexa Research.
The products find utility as material handling equipment in various industries including automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, electronics, oil & gas, construction, and e-commerce.
Robots fit in well as companies look for ways to bring in operational efficiency by improving inventory control and increasing labor efficiency to reduce lag time in order processing. The focus on optimising warehouse operations has gained more importance with an ever-growing e-commerce industry, where effective backend operations play a critical role.
The automation in the manufacturing sector with the help of warehouse robotics systems has made picking, moving, labelling, and packaging processes easier and efficient. These systems also enable firms to achieve the global quality standard at a fast pace through the process quality monitoring robots.
The rapid growth of the electronics industry in emerging economies including, China, India, and Taiwan is fuelling the market for warehouse robotics. For instance, the new product launches by the leading electronic companies including, LG and Samsung on white goods including, smart LED TVs is expected to have a positive impact on the market.
The automation of production processes through the inclusion of warehouse robotic systems has resulted in improved efficiency, consistent quality, minimal maintenance costs, and safe operation. Sometimes the sorting and assembling of the miniaturised electronics are not feasible for the human. The mobile robots are proved to be highly important and useful for performing such a delicate task and it gives a better quality of the product.
Over the past few years, the automotive manufacturing firms have been increasing spending towards the utilisation of warehouse robotics systems for the movement of finished four vehicle products. As of 2017, the U.S. and China were the major manufacturers of automotive across the world. The number of robots installed in these two countries has increased considerably over the years. The major part of the U.S. and China’s robot order goes to the automotive industry.
In the automotive sector, robots are mainly used in for laser cutting, palletising, CNC machines, welding, plasma cutting, press machines, and BIW welding lines. Robots are also gaining popularity in the painting operation. There are few automotive companies are aiming for complete automation of the manufacturing process with the help of the warehouse robots in their production plant. Thus, the automotive industry is expected to remain a lucrative application segment for warehouse robotics market.
Some of the key manufacturers in the robotics market include ABB, KUKA AG, FANUC Corporation, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, Amazon Robotics, YASKAWA Electric Corporation, Locus Robotics, OMRON Corporation, Fetch Robotics, Inc., IAM Robotics, Honeywell International Inc., and IBM.
Over the past few years, these key players have opted for M&A activities in order to expand their business. The small players of this market are also expanding the business by entering into the new region. For instance, GreyOrange, an Indian startup company, has expanded its business to the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and Germany.

Transport industry troubled by workers’ money troubles

AMP’s Financial Wellness report has found the transport and logistics industry is the hardest hit by financial stress, impacting one-in-four workers.
According to the report, there are currently 2.44 million Australians suffering from financial stress and this is having a significant impact on the economy, costing Australian businesses an estimated $31.1 billion per year in lost revenue.
Financial stress impacts one-in-four of Australia’s transport, postal and warehousing employees (25%). This is both a rise from 2016 levels (23%) and above the national average among employees across all industries (19%).
Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.
AMP director of workplace super Ilaine Anderson said the transport and logistics industry’s rising financial stress levels are a particular cause for concern.
“Workforces in most industries across Australia have become less financially stressed since 2016. The fact that Transport, Postal and Warehousing is one of the few areas that has become more stressed indicates a need for more support from employers,” said Ms Anderson.
“While many people think money worries are a personal issue, our research shows being financially stressed spills into your working life, increasing absenteeism and impacting productivity,” she said.
Ms Anderson believes January and February can be the worst months for financial stress and this is something employers should look out for.
“As the holiday season comes to an end, and credit card bills start to roll in, many Australians will be starting the new year under significant financial pressure.
The value of goal setting
Ms Anderson added: “The research shows if people have well-defined goals and a plan in place to achieve them, they have greater peace of mind. Goals help lift people above the day-to-day expense cycle, allowing a more ‘in-control’, longer-term view.
“People don’t wake up and think ‘I’m going to get a home loan’ – it starts with the desire, or a goal, to buy a house. Connecting finances with goals help us engage with our finances, and then having a plan to achieve these goals can significantly ease stress.”
How employers can help
Ms Anderson commented employers can play an important role in promoting financial wellness.
“The research found flexible working hours and the ability to work from home improved employee performance, engagement and financial wellness. Reducing the stigma around financial stress is also important, as many of those surveyed cited embarrassment and guilt as a major reason for not tackling their financial woes.
“We need to make sure talking money isn’t seen as taboo and implement financial literacy campaigns within our businesses to help employees achieve their financial goals,” said Ms Anderson.
Additional findings

  • The Financial Wellness Index, which measures how employees perceive their current and future financial situation, found 5% of Australian workers are severely financially stressed, 14% are moderately financially stressed, 35% are mildly financially stressed, 46% are financially secure.
  • Of Australia’s five largest capital cities, Brisbane is the most financially stressed, with 25% of workers in this region experiencing financial stress. This is followed by Adelaide (22%), Melbourne (20%), Perth (17%) and Sydney (16%).
  • Financial stress is more prevalent in certain industries. Transport, postal and warehousing workers were most financially stressed with 25% of workers experiencing money problems, closely followed by both administrative services and hospitality (24%), financial and insurance workers (21%) and both retail and healthcare and social assistance workers (20%) stressed.
  • The demographics showing the highest incidence of financial stress include single parents (35%), those living in shared accommodation (31%), people living in regional Queensland (28%) and women (24%).
  • The research showed no income group is immune from financial stress. Those earning between $50,000 – $74,999 reported the highest level of financial stress (26%), followed by $25,000 – $49,999 (24%), $75,000 – $99,999 (16%), $100,000 – $149,99 (12%) and $150,000 and above (11%).

Download a full copy of the Financial Wellness report.

Frasers Property secures prime industrial land in Melbourne

Frasers Property Australia has settled on a 63.4 hectare prime industrial land parcel valued at approximately $40 million. It is located in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Epping.

Situated at 410 Cooper Street, the property stretches through to O’Herns Rd in the north and is abutting the Hume Freeway. It will be located between two full diamond interchanges, allowing unparalleled access to Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
“The Epping acquisition is a significant strategic purchase for the business and will further strengthen our position as one of the leading providers of prime industrial product in Melbourne. It also compliments Frasers Property’s other well-located industrial land holdings in Melbourne’s south east and west.,” Anthony Maugeri, General Manager Southern Region of Frasers Property Australia’s Commercial and Industrial division said.
The new site will accommodate up to 250,000 sqm of built form, enabling Frasers Property to service existing and new customers.
Neighbouring properties to Frasers Property’s Epping land parcel include Melbourne’s Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market and large land occupiers such as Mainfreight, Mission Foods, Chemist Warehouse, Visy, Coles, Bluestar Logistics, Linfox and Toll.

Newly-launched uTenant portal the Airbnb of commercial leasing industry

A new online platform called uTenant offers a cost-effective alternative to commercial agents for Australia’s freight, logistics and warehousing industry – drawing comparisons to services such as Uber and Airbnb.
“uTenant is intended to disrupt the commercial leasing industry like Uber has for taxis and Airbnb has for holiday accommodation. For tenants, the web-based portal will curate a list of available properties based on their specific size, location and preferred term of lease amongst other things, and connect them with landlords to arrange inspections, negotiate terms and sign a lease,” explains uTenant founder and director, Matt Sampson.
uTenant is an online commercial property portal that streamlines finding, inspecting and leasing warehouse space for tenants, whilst amplifying property visibility for landlords, helping them to source tenants and lease space cheaper and faster.
The brainchild of entrepreneur and former commercial leasing agent Matt Sampson, uTenant puts tenants and landlords in direct contact and provides a confidential, transparent, cost- and time-effective alternative to the old way of leasing space.
“With uTenant, we have reimagined how industrial warehouse space is leased, providing significant advantages and savings for the two most important parties to the transaction – the tenant and the landlord,” says Sampson.
How uTenant works

  1. Tenants enter their specific requirements into the uTenant portal
  2. uTenant curates a tailored list of suitable properties, which have already been validated as legitimate
  3. Tenants shortlist preferred properties and arranges inspections directly with the landlord or through uTenant
  4. Inspections take place and direct tenant-landlord negotiations commence
  5. On conclusion of a lease, standard fee payable to uTenant by landlord, with uTenant sharing a percentage of this with the tenant (fee sharing n/a in NSW)


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