Taking logistics to the next level

Taking logistics to the next level

Development Director | iSec

iSec Development Drector Mike Forster comments on how single site clusters and multi-level warehouses are transforming the supply chain management industry

Shortening the path for the movement of goods from A to B is the holy grail for logistics professionals. Every inbound item must reach the right destination accurately and quickly, and with perishable goods like food there is no margin for error.

In terms of effective supply chain management, the objective is to match supply to demand wherever it occurs. It might sound obvious, but the concept of clustering – bringing together all aspects of production, storage, distribution and logistics – is bringing a new facet to industry. With next generation infrastructure looking to new technology to transform supply chain management, there is huge potential for building new manufacturing and warehousing clusters from the ground up.

Optimising the supply chain

Every successful manufacturer needs to optimise every aspect of its supply chain – and new high tech, multi-level warehouses characterised by automation play a key part. When a bulk order is received, there is much more that needs to be done besides logging it in a system and moving it where it needs to go. 

For food manufacturing, storage and distribution, implementing automated warehousing brings the opportunity to reduce labour costs, increase capacity and throughput, and minimise human error.

Robotics promise an increase in warehouse efficiency and new levels of supply chain agility that translate into direct cost savings.

Thanks to advanced warehousing technology clustered at a manufacturing superhub, it may not be long before efficiency levels have been optimised to the extent that goods can be delivered within hours of a customer’s order.

Taking the opportunity to plan, design and build new plant from the ground up, rather than retrofitting new systems into existing lines with its consequent downtime, has never been more critical. Starting from scratch allows operators to incorporate the technologies that will set the standard for the trading economy of the future.

Automation from the ground up

With space at a premium, however, and frozen and chilled storage at capacity, the UK food industry has been struggling to bring their operations up to date. 

The issue is compounded by the fact that few developers are prepared to build warehouse space in urban areas without confirmed tenants because building homes had taken priority. Add to this the skills shortage, particularly as workers start to leave the UK and it’s clear that action needs to be taken.

For the food and beverage industry, managing a range of different temperature zones for food storage is a particular challenge. Our current supply chain is resource inefficient, outdated and costly for the environment.

Multi-level warehousing provides a solution. Maximising space is made possible by robotics to make full utilisation of height. While a forklift vehicle would struggle to reach pallets stored at height, implementing a fully automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) allows maximum capacity use. This is critical in heavily urbanised areas like the UK where new manufacturing locations are rare. 

Automated warehousing provides agility and responsiveness, particularly when integrated with smart data and systems to build a fully connected production model. Operating a single site large scale model – a 21st century, highly-integrated production superhub – brings a high degree of automation into the truly intelligent, agile supply chain of the future.