Acquiring a new facility doesn’t only do wonders for operations, it can help to provide a business-wide ‘reset’ too – offering the opportunity to realign processes, rebuild company culture, and reboot the organisational strategy.
A central hub can often be seen as the lifeblood of a logistics business – providing a place to send things to and from, as well as creating a recognised place of work and the right foundations to build a solid team.
Here, Mark Fletcher, group operations director at national business supplies and services provider OT Group, looks at five reasons why investment is key.
1. Meeting the business objectives
Before any organisation even considers a move to a new location – the first step is to completely understand what the business is trying to achieve from such a change.
Whatever the motivation, any logistics strategy worth its salt must be intrinsically linked to the wider business strategy – and take into consideration not only what the company needs now, but how the landscape is likely to evolve in terms of both supply chain and beyond.
That said, and as things gather pace, don’t remain wedded to initial ideas and plans, as an agile approach – and being mindful of the changing business economy – is central to remaining relevant within the market.
2. Making the most of your square footage
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to create a functioning logistics system without a warehouse management system. Therefore, it’s worth considering how many existing processes could potentially be automated – to truly maximise the footprint of your bricks and mortar.
Taking the time to start with a blank sheet of paper, and map out exactly what you need from your square footage, will enable you to compete at the right level – and improve customer service levels exponentially. Investment in the right areas should help quality and productivity to skyrocket. Don’t only focus on how many bells and whistles the warehousing space has either. Bright and airy office spaces, a great on-site restaurant, comfortable break out spaces, ample car parking, and even high-specification washroom facilities have the potential to make-or-break the morale of colleagues.
3. Helping to foster employee engagement
Never underestimate how a robust people strategy can work in tandem with a supply chain strategy – as both feed into the wider business objectives. Particularly now, where it’s an employee’s market – and attracting and retaining talent has never been more pivotal.
The key is often finding colleagues with the correct attitude – particularly in terms of entry level roles. In the logistics sector, it’s quite possible to train the skills needed for the job, but you can’t ‘learn’ the qualities of energy and mindset needed to flourish within the sector.
4. Bolstering your sustainability credentials
As the UK strives to achieve its net zero target by 2050, sustainability mustn’t be overlooked in any supply chain strategy – and there are two distinct routes on the path to achieving a greener future, and in truth a combination of both is key to progress.
One is to actively remove the gases that have already been created, and the other is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced in the first place – a prevention rather than cure option.
In the supply chain industry, advancements therefore include a switch to a more ecologically friendly electric fleet, savvy delivery options for a geographically fragmented workforce, and the reduction of ‘waste’ at source.
At OT Group’s new distribution centre in Ashton-under-Lyne, for example, our modern facility includes A-frame and pick by light systems that reap greater efficiencies, and clever box-cutting for smarter packing and waste reduction.
But the world of procurement is a vast and varied one, and with broader environmental thinking and wider stakeholder efforts, the road to net zero will feel less like a pipedream and more like a deliverable that can and will be accomplished.
5. Finding the right partners
Try as you might, it’s impossible to be all things to all people. Don’t shoulder the burden of everything yourselves, and work with a logistics partner whenever it’s needed. Without the right support, organisations can’t compete commercially, and it’s absolutely critical to source help from the right place.
Look for those which offer financial stability, the right reach and capability, a genuine desire to improve performance, and the right level of interaction – controversial as it may be, the ideal price point should come bottom of the list.
By getting the basics right from the off, operations become more cost-effective. Plus, having a facility which allows you to be flexible provides ample opportunities for growth and consolidation, while reducing risk and creating a robust business model for the future. ✷