Posted at 27 May 2021

Industrial supply chain: the need for speed

Paul Skade
By Richard Ludlam
Marketing Manager

Intrigued by all things engineering, as a youngster I originally looked to understand how things work then, how to make them work better.

After time in eng...

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We’re living in a 24/7, always-on world.  A world where we expect and want everything now.  Many of us have become conditioned by the Amazon model, especially if we subscribe to Amazon Prime where we can manage and track our transaction online and next – or even same – day delivery is the norm.

 

What has become the norm in our domestic life is rapidly impacting on our expectations at work.  This is fine if we are ordering office supplies, where stationery can easily be delivered same-day or overnight.  But what about more specialised areas, such as sourcing industrial parts and components?

If these are being supplied as part of a just-in-time (JIT) or direct to line-side manufacturing contract, with what is effectively a continuous supply chain, the expectations are clearly defined, as the overriding requirement will be to maintain a continuous manufacturing operation.  But for all other products and components that are required on an irregular or infrequent basis then expectations and service levels have traditionally varied widely, with often inconsistent or unregulated standards of delivery or customer support.

Yet, there is no reason why this has to be the case.

Setting new standards in industrial fulfilment

In the last twelve months we’ve seen an upheaval in industrial supply chains.  At the start of the Covid pandemic global lines of supply simply stopped functioning.  Even today, with many countries being forced to close their borders, we’re still seeing significant delays and disruption in the supply of parts; and in the UK, of course, this situation has been exacerbated by the lack of clarity around post-Brexit import and export regulations, which is adding to delays.

 

At ERIKS, we’ve been working hard to minimise these delays, putting in place extraordinary measures to protect supply lines and ensure a consistent flow of products and components to our customers.  We also recognise that the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit will slowly ease in the coming year.

That’s why we’re now looking at the longer term, with a multi-million pound investment in our UK industrial fulfilment network.  Our goal is be able to meet the expectations of an ever-growing number of customers who need faster and more reliable delivery of parts, on a JIT, regular call-off or occasional as-needed basis.  In each case, we understand the need for speed and efficiency, so that we’re able to deliver exactly the right products, to the correct location in precisely the time specified by each customer.

 

To meet this demand, we’re transforming our network of industrial fulfilment and service operations across the UK and Ireland.  At the heart of this network will be our new UK Headquarters and Fulfilment Centre of Expertise in Oldbury in the west Midlands.

Picking, packing and delivering: fast

The need for speed will be embedded in the pick and dispatch operation of the Oldbury Fulfilment Centre of Expertise.  For example, the new Centre will replace two existing distribution hubs, bringing a 53% increase in capacity, with considerable potential to meet future demand.  

Look inside and you’ll see a unique combination of 21 high speed lifts, integrated with over 400m of rapid transit conveyors and vertical racking with capacity for 11,200 Euro pallets.  

This highly automated, high-speed operation is controlled by the latest I4.0 warehouse management technology, interconnected with sophisticated bar code tracking, laser point-to-pick and weight check systems. 

 

 

 

We understand the impact that an incorrect or late delivery can have on our customers and are therefore balancing the need for both speed with the accuracy with which parts are picked, checked and despatched.  All goods-in consignments are fully inspected and quality checked before entering the fulfilment centre.  

They are then checked again when they are picked and receive a final scan and check-weigh before despatch, with the goal of getting as close to 100% pick and delivery accuracy as possible.  In the future customers will have complete end-to-end transparency and traceability of orders.

 

This will be key both in meeting customers’ ever more demanding Amazon-Prime based expectations and, most importantly, connect customers more closely to their procurement and supply chain improving security of supply and peace of mind to keep their businesses running profitably.

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