Jon Miles, Head of UK Operations at Partner Logistics explains why, when it come to refrigeration and frozen storage facilities, bigger is often better
Okay, so in terms of the latest technological gadgetry we’ve mostly been convinced into thinking that small is best; just consider the iPod versus the ‘ghetto blaster’ and the portable tablet as opposed to the more cumbersome laptop.
However, when it comes to refrigeration and frozen storage facilities there are exceptions to the rule. I put the case forward that often thinking bigger is better, but only if this includes utilising the latest technological advances in areas such as automation. Certainly for those organisations needing to secure and maintain flexible and accessible storage facilities, which are cost effective and able to deliver added value, this really should be the answer.
CHOOSING THE BEST SOLUTION
Selecting a storage distribution company is no easy task – whether your organisation is bringing a new product to market or evaluating an existing supply chain, there are a number of important factors to consider. As many will already know, operating through third party logistics providers allows the opportunity to free up or re-invest working capital into your core business, reducing administration, transport and distribution management.
It is also fair to say, with an expanding frozen food market, there’s growing pressure on warehousing providers to increase our performance and quality, whilst reducing costs and the environmental impact. These key drivers all lead to one thing when it comes to frozen food storage – bigger is better.
QUALITY, COST AND PERFORMANCE
Cold stores are set to expand and develop from smaller, decentralised sites to larger, centralised and more automated cold stores. The drivers behind this include such things as increasing service level demands (lead times, handling performance), tighter legislation on food safety (reducing hand contact and increasing traceability), growing importance of sustainability (e.g. reducing carbon footprints), and the need to reduce working capital by increasing scale.
We would argue this is a good thing and many of the leading logistics companies, certainly those operating globally, are already consolidating their operations in order to enhance efficiency to better meet the needs of their customers.
It is therefore more important than ever that when researching or reviewing current warehousing options that you consider a logistics partner that can deliver a centralised solution, creating better product flows, with a proven track record for quality, cost-saving and high level performance.
In fact the warehouses Partner Logistics operate are approximately four times larger than the average frozen storage facility, but far more efficient in terms of economies of scale and only require a third of the number of staff working to operate effectively – these cost savings and efficiencies can be passed straight on to the customer.
I’m sure many of you will also nod in agreement when I say that the current industry focus is demanding more, rather than less flexibility, quality and reduced costs for storage. So you’ll be pleased to hear another of the benefits of the bigger facilities is that the majority pride themselves on being able to deliver flexibility in terms of pallet storage space and the ability to manage mixed pallet orders. So whether you are considering the short-term storage of 3,000 pallets or a regular turnover of 20,000 and anything in-between, it is far more likely that your needs can be accommodated quickly and easily.
Not only that, but the bigger warehouses have usually invested in the latest technology to ensure there is the ability to get it right first time, every time, maintaining quality and greatly reducing the risk of damage to products. This should include software that ensures the smooth running of the input/output processes and automated technologies featuring state-of-the-art robotic pallet-handlers used to manoeuvre the products around, as well as having comprehensive strategies in place to minimise waste to save on costs.
REDUCING THE CARBON FOOTPRINT
When you think big though there may also be the tendency to think energy guzzling technologies, but actually the larger warehousing facilities are operating with less surface area for the same volumes, prioritising effective design, so as to help more organisations reduce their carbon footprint even further.
In order to achieve this, a great deal of care is put into the construction and layout of the buildings, with the flows of goods being organised effectively and best practice being implemented in reducing energy consumption, such as through the automated technologies. Moreover, any logistics company worth their salt will have developed systems to use residual heat from the engines that are on site (for cooling and oxygen reduction) for conditioning the offices, technical areas, and the floor heating systems.
IN FOCUS: TUDOR ROSE INTERNATIONAL
Tudor Rose International (TRI) is Europe’s leading Export Market Management Company supplying British brands around the world with more than 190 customers across the globe. TRI require a reliable and efficient frozen storage solution that provides larger volume for consolidation, with the capability of speed, traceability and through put that is able to store and support the distribution of a wide range of food products, which are exported to more than 79 countries worldwide. TRI selected Partner Logistics Gloucester in 2011 to manage their International storage and distribution.
The state-of-the-art Gloucester warehouse operates at temperatures down to -28°C, and is fully automated and designed to the highest environmental specifications.
In addition to the significant benefits that automation delivers to TRI, including reduced costs and faster retrieval of goods, Partner Logistics is providing a manual picking service which enables the delivery of mixed pallets. This is an enormous advantage when considering the diversity of products and the range of transport partners and export destinations, involved in their operations. Mixed pallets enable TRI to transport products more effectively into the global marketplace, whilst cutting costs on unnecessary additional transportation.
The market in the UK for frozen food has naturally grown year on year with a steady revenue increase, rising annually by 5 per cent. In 2010 the market for frozen food was £3.1 billion and is anticipated to grow to £10.9 billion by the end of 2014. As 65 per cent of frozen food consumed in the UK is now produced overseas and the market demands a day one for day two ordering process and delivery. It is important to establish a storage solution that provides volume for consolidation which has the capability of speed, traceability and through put.
Demands on value have also been seen by the processors of frozen foods with inflation in RPI, CPI, fuel and ingredients costs. This is turn has put the manufacturing market of frozen foods in a position to continuously evaluate costs in production, supply chain and energy. The emphasis therefore is on logistics companies to continually demonstrate that the service they offer will provide an end to end solution, with a proven commitment to carbon reduction targets and added value to ensure they really are helping their customers to save on costs, while delivering sustainable benefits.
For many this will mean identifying those that can deliver bigger more efficient facilities, fitted with the latest technology, closer to the consolidation centre and better able to ensure the environmental impact is consistently monitored from all perspectives.