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How To Choose a Logistics Company?

When businesses expand start looking for external secure storage solutions, or large established companies begin the search for professional road haulage, there are a deluge of deliberations to take into consideration which all boil down to one question: how to choose a logistics company?

Location

Logistics is all about physical connectivity, so it is only natural that location is a major consideration. A logistics company’s headquarters must be well placed for both intra- and international travel. With close links to the UK’s major road networks, our new headquarters in Rochdale – located just off the M62 – is the ideal location for businesses throughout the UK.

Safety

Just as the ease of getting your stock to customers is an essential consideration, so too is its safety before that journey. The safety of your goods is paramount, which is why we take pride in our own industry-leading standards of warehouse health and safety. We go above and beyond the necessary requirements – in fact, we were praised at our most recent inspection for our high levels of safety and security.

Professionalism

With a huge range of logistics companies out there, true professionalism stands out. You need to be confident that every member of your logistics team – from the office, to the warehouse floor, to the drivers. Professionalism can be boiled down into two main qualities: training and attitude. We ensure our employees are all highly-trained and enjoy being a part of the Barnes team.

You can find out more about our team of professionals, from our Transport Planners to our Human Resources team.

Flexibility

Finally, the nature of logistics must allow an element of flexibility. As specialists in Just In Time logistics, we ensure that strategies are precisely timed for maximum efficiency with goods re-stocked and distributed before they are sold out. However, should an unexpedectly large order come in from your customers, the flexible nature of Barnes Logistics means that our transport managers and drivers will work to create a plan to get the best outcome for your business.

So: how to choose a logistics company? Simple: choose Barnes!

The Value of Fleet Investment

Logistics businesses depend on their fleet – it’s at the very heart of their success. But unlike non-commercial vehicles, business fleets go through more wear and tear in a shorter amount of time. As a company’s fleet brings in vital revenue, it is imperative that capital is re-invested back into these vehicles.

Why? Our commercial vehicles must constantly be upgraded; but this investment needn’t be viewed as a necessary but tiresome expense – it also results in improved efficiency and greater reliability.

With drivers undertaking frequent shifts, investing in quality vehicles is imperative. Up-to-date vehicles have the latest technology, which increases the safety of the drivers and other road-users as well as the efficiency of the fleet, ultimately escalating profits. Upgrading means investing in the latest safety equipment like rear view cameras, hands-free smartphone connections, and up-to-date tachographs. Modern satellite navigation systems also drastically decrease delivery time by helping drivers navigate road closures and traffic build-ups, among other things. Furthermore, these new fleet improvemennts boost employee satisfaction and serve as a great promotion for a company’s products or services.

Reductions in maintenance costs are another benefit of the investment in fleet vehicles; as they are used every day they require regular maintenance. Fleet upgrades reduce a company’s maintenance costs and extend the vehicles life span as well as make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Costly maintenance repairs can also negatively affect the delivery time of a load, negatively reflecting on the company’s overall reputation.

Another means to improving the value of a fleet is investment into good quality, professional drivers. Ensuring the hiring of properly trained, qualified drivers with experience is an absolute must. Laws and legislations regularly change with driving laws, and so ensuring one has competent drivers means that businesses are always above board and in accordance with the law.

Investment into the sustainability of HGVs is a big topic at the moment, with the current climate situation and the newly imposed government targets for the reduction of emissions, the eradication of fossil fuelled vehicles doesn’t seem too farfetched. Additionally, the rising number of natural gas fuelling stations in the UK is an indication that business owners are looking to invest in environmentally friendly transport vehicles. Although the technology is still in its developing stages, it’s always worth keeping an eye on and investing in the future before laws change and businesses are penalised heavily for burying their heads in the sand and continuing to run fossil fuelled HGVs.

As stated, business owners can only invest when these new eco-technologies are advanced enough to be commercially viable, and many vehicles are still reliant on fossil fuels. However, companies can still choose to improve their fleet’s fuel efficiency. Commercial fleets can create huge fuel costs and, for some companies, these costs are as big as their payroll. The automotive industry is investing their efforts into decreasing the overall consumption of fuel across the board and improving fuel efficiency in the logistics sector would be a huge step in the right direction.

Overall, the value of fleet investment is of vital importance to safeguard a business for the furture, and it’s a process we consisitently undertake at Barnes to ensure we provide the safest, most reliable logistics services for our customers. Explore how we can help you with our logistics services.

The Importance of Efficient Logistics

Efficient logistics is imperative for keeping the UK supply chain running smoothly. With Brexit pending and other factors affecting trading in Britain – efficiency in our logistics industry has never been more important. 

There are various elements that create successful efficient logistics management, including warehouse management, sustainability and the importance of automation.  

Efficient logistics is only successful with thorough, detail-oriented warehouse management – maximising storage capacity and using software to sequence products is vital to avoid delays when locating a product when an order has been placed. All staff involved in the running of the warehouse need to be well-versed in warehouse operations to help support efficient logistics.  We pride ourselves in selecting employees that keep our warehouses running smoothly and ensure we’re running in line with our own efficient logistics targets.  Our own Transport Manager for our Midlands sites anticipates potential issues and creates solutions, which is vital for efficient logistics.  You can find out all about his day-to-day in our Behind Barnes blog

In previous years, sustainability has been seen as an extra cost to businesses, but society is becoming increasingly more environmentally-conscious.  Being sustainable as a business is more important than ever, offering an opportunity to develop your business to the constantly-evolving demands of the market.  Sustainability and efficiency go hand-in-hand, a step in the right direction ensure a wealth of resources are available for the future.  To achieve efficient logistics, sustainability may require a considerable investment but it’s safe to say that your business will reap the benefits of an eco-conscious strategy.  It’s also important to keep in mind that customers will be looking to partner with a logistics company that is aware of their energy consumption and reduces emissions, so this investment could lead to increased sales.  Every movement costs money and each mile driven equates to additional emissions into the atmosphere – further highlighting the need to streamline logistics strategy, for example opting for the safest and shortest route to save money.  Optimising packaging so it takes up less volume and doesn’t increase the weight of the item is also a step closer to efficient transportation.   An eco-friendly strategy could also benefit a company by avoiding excess fines or penalties from environmental regulations. 

Opting for a Just In Time logistics strategy plays a significant part in achieving efficient logistics, we pride ourselves with extensive forward planning, with new stock replenished when levels are low.  In a previous blog, we discussed whether this would be affected by Brexit – however, due to the nature of the process, customer spending habits are analysed allowing for strategic stockpiling – resulting in effectively managing key goods. 

As a logistics company, it’s important for us to stay up-to-date with the latest logistics software and we’re always thinking about the different ways we can effectively reduce our environmental footprint.  If you’re interested in partnering with us and discussing bespoke logistics strategies for your business, get in touch today! 

Logistics Automation: Should We Fight the Future?

As the world’s technologies move on at a seemingly exponential pace, no industry is left untouched by modern progression. As machine capabilities increase and offer the same, or even heightened, levels of productivity at a lesser cost, a question of morals and commercial viability presents itself. At what human cost should businesses employ new technologies?

From automated stock retrieval systems to palleting robots, the logistics sector has seen a huge leap in technological advances. Where once, many decades ago, workers would be responsible for all movement of goods, today machines are used to aid the increased demand levels from clients across the globe.

The main argument against logistics automation is similar to that discussed in our previous blog on autonomous lorries – employment. Across all industries, there is the worry that machines will replace humans in the workplace, leading to job losses. We will always need human employees no matter what, but if industries are viewed as ‘machine heavy’, would it damage their reputation and affect recruitment?

However, as noted above, we feel we must stress that an increase in technological advances does not necessitate a whole automated warehouse. We must remember that technology may be progressively intelligent, but it is not sentient and will always need humans to manage them. From inputting data to managing repairs, job roles will evolve with computerisation. Furthermore, robotics may well make increase safety and reduce any workplace accidents.

Finally, responsible business owners cannot turn their back on the benefits automation offers clients – reduced costs are passed on to customers to ensure they receive the best value for their logistics investment; providing the highest quality services for the best price is a vital part of the Barnes Logistics ethos.

In the end, it’s a balancing act logistics business owners must manage. Responsible business owners have a responsibility to their employees, customers and the future of their company. As technology progresses and the face of logistics automation changes once more, leaders in the sector must adjust in a way which is both fair and effective.

Behind Barnes: Transport Manager

Keeping things running smoothly at Barnes Logistics is a challenging but a thoroughly rewarding task for our Midlands Transport Manager, Laurence Gray. We recently caught up with Laurence about his roles, career journey and his recommendations for others looking to join the industry…

       1.       What does your role as Midlands Transport Manager entail?

My main responsibility as Transport Manager is to keep the Midlands sites running efficiently and effectively.  This means keeping the fleet operational and legal whilst also making sure that we have the right number of professional drivers on the road to carry out the work required. Anticipating potential issues and creating solutions for them is also a vital responsibility. Finally, my role entails dealing with queries from customers and on behalf of our drivers too. 

2.       Can you tell us about your career journey, how did you get your job at Barnes?

Before I discovered my role in Logistics, I worked in a number of industries which included procurement and sales. Over time, I worked my way up in a different company which saw me moving from transport planner to shift manager. Whilst working there, the Midlands Transport Manager opportunity arose at Barnes and I thought this was the perfect career opportunity for me. After attending an interview with Barnes, it really opened my eyes to what I could achieve! It was fantastic that I got the green light for the job. 

3.       What does a typical day (or week!) look like for you?

At Barnes, my week varies depending on what is required from me. Ensuring that everything is running efficiently and to the best possible standards is really important and from here, I can look ahead at further improvements. At the beginning of the week, I work on financial reportings and oversee compliance tasks. Once this is done, I attend a site visit in Redditch to check that things are operating as they should. Typically, throughout the week I will be involved in the arranging and interviewing of candidates and conducting driver inductions. Monitoring the service schedule frequently to ensure targets are achieved on time and working on probations reviews are also essential tasks. My job role can extend away from the office as sometimes I will be required in the yard where I will usually find myself inspecting tyres which have low tread to see if they need replacing. As Midlands Transport Manager however, I would say that that the most important role is speaking to the drivers to check that things are going as they should and speaking with our customers to ensure that Barnes are providing a five-star service. 

4.       What would you recommend to others looking to join the industry?

I would say that within the Logistics sector, there are always opportunities available. It is a vast and dynamic industry offering plenty of varied jobs. Therefore, even if one role might not suit you, there are still plenty of different positions which could be more suitable for your skill set so I think it’s important that you don’t give up on the industry if things get tough. It is also worth considering that Logistics is an industry which is staying put and is ever-expanding as companies will always require items moving safely and securely from one location to another. There will always be the need to supply and deliver goods across the UK and the globe!

Roadside Littering: Protecting Our Country

With climate change and the rapidly-shifting natural environment a trending topic at the moment, we felt it would be pertinent to discuss roadside littering, its effects and what should be put in place to prevent it.  As a logistics company, we spend a huge amount of time on the road and with that in mind, littering is an issue we feel obliged to address.

Just recently, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker spoke on the programme about the issues of littering and the sheer lack of excuses for leaving behind rubbish.  Commenting on his local park over the Easter bank holiday weekend, he found it left strewn with waste from people that had spent the day enjoying the sun just feet away from a bin.  Understandably, there aren’t always bins on roadsides, but this certainly doesn’t give one the right to dispose of something out of their window.  It doesn’t take much to keep a hold of your rubbish and throw it away when you’re near a bin. 

The RSPB and Keep Britain Tidy have reported that shrews, bank voles, wood mice and other animals can get stuck in discarded bottles and die.  The ring pulls on cans also pose a threat with smaller animals choking on them, and hedgehogs can get their heads stuck in empty cans.    According to the Local Environment Quality Survey, there had been a significant decrease in plastic bag littering after the introduction of the 5p charge.  It is of course encouraging to hear that people are reducing their plastic consumption – however, it has also found that littering remains a significant problem. 

Every year Highways England clear 180,000 sacks of litter from motorways and major A roads, a shocking statistic that shouldn’t be this high.  In 2015, the cost of picking up litter was £1 billion in the UK, money that is spent purely due to the carelessness of drivers.  That statistic alone should be an eye opener:  imagine all the other important areas of our country which that sum of money could be spent on.  It has never been easier to recycle and to dispose of goods with an abundance of recycling centres open, and we as a country have the potential to make a positive change on the natural and urban environments of the UK – all it takes is for everyone to contribute in some way, no matter how big or small. 

How could this issue of roadside littering be tackled?  More awareness could be raised with television campaigns and in the media, showing the effect littering has on our natural environment or a representation of just how much it costs to clear up litter in the UK every year.  When it comes to roadside littering, the implementation of road signs to warn against littering or fly tipping would be a good way to reinforce the issue.  Alternatively, using service station signs to let drivers know there’s also an opportunity to dispose of any rubbish. 

In the UK, local councils can charge up to £150 for littering from a vehicle, but perhaps the severity of littering needs to be addressed with the potential for a more expensive fine.  More CCTV could be supported with tougher fines, which then go on to offer an even better chance to discourage anti-social behaviour in the future. 

When you’re next on the road and in a safe area to get out of your cab, we encourage making a conscious effort to pick up any litter you see, this can make a small contribution to a much bigger environmental campaign to keep our country clean.  Professional drivers can be leading examples to all road users.

Let us know on Twitter what you do to help prevent littering in your area or on the road.

Behind Barnes: Human Resources

As part of our Behind Barnes campaign, we recently caught up with Toni Gilmore, to find out all about her position as an HR Assistant at Barnes Logistics…

  1. What does your role as HR Assistant entail, Toni?

My main duties include making sure all legal documents (such as Drivers Licence etc.) and training is up to date. I also monitor probation reviews, recruitment and organising interviews with managers, as well as Inputting driver hours and reviewing wages reports.  Finally, I look after all holiday and employee allowances.

  1. Can you tell us about your career journey, how did you get your job at Barnes?

I went to Leeds Metropolitan University and studied Psychology.  When I finished my degree, I found an interest in HR and wanted to pursue a career in it.  My first job was in customer service and admin, and I then became a Shipping and Transport Coordinator within the same company. I saw a job posting advertised by Barnes Logistics and with my background in shipping, admin and my degree in Psychology, I was well experienced for the position.

  1. What does a typical day (or week!) look like for you?

The job can look very different from week to week as it depends on what is happening at different depots. Typically, the beginning of the week is focused on wages – collecting and filing all the information from the previous week from all the depots, for example, driver timesheets and tachograph information. This is logged in our system so we can create a wages report and send out purchase orders to agencies where we’ve used their drivers. In a typical week we would also arrange interviews, liaise with managers regarding any driver training which is due and arrange for that to be completed, enrol new starters onto the HR database and generally keep all the systems up to date.

  1. What would you recommend to others looking to join the industry?

I am a big believer in finding an entry level job in your desired career and working your way up. It also helps to research any professional qualifications specific to your desired role in order to stand out from other applicants.

If you think you have what it takes and are interested in a career in the transport and logistics profession, get in touch!

How Will a No Deal Brexit Affect Just In Time Logistics?

The Brexit negotiations have taken more twists and turns than anyone could have imagined when the vote to leave the EU was announced back in 2016. With deals going nowhere and extensions to talks, it’s given business leaders even more time to think about how Brexit will affect their industry.

We’re already seeing the more obvious effects of leaving the EU – customs workers striking this month over the lack of clarity have led to miles and miles of queues at Calais for professional drivers. A simple act such as this has wide-reaching consequences – drivers will not only be frustrated, but their health is put at risk as they remain in the cab unable to move in traffic queues and longer hours are spent on the road. Playing the blame game is all too easy but, ultimately, futile – strikers take such a stand only because of serious concerns for their workplace.

These strikes give a taste of what may be to come in the long term: should No Deal become a reality, drivers will doubtless face long queues when leaving or re-entering the country. But as well as the toll this will take on drivers’ hours, physical and mental health, it will also have an effect on businesses. And Just In Time logistics will be an industry which will be hugely altered should no deal be agreed between Britain and the EU.

Just In Time relies on the efficiency of forward planning to ensure a smooth logistics operation, with new stock transported when levels are low but not depleted. If this month’s queues at Calais are any indicator of what a No Deal Brexit might look like, it would be understandable for business owners to be concerned that delays at borders could lead to a break down in the Just In Time system.

However, at Barnes Logistics we believe that there really is no need for panic. As well as being utterly counter-productive, the fact remains that the majority of businesses have been planning for this eventuality for years. By analysing customer spending habits, we have seen businesses across a whole variety of industries strategically stockpile and more effectively manage key goods.

Although delays at borders may lead to longer delivery times, this is a simple reality which both businesses and customers must face and embrace. If goods have been stockpiled, businesses have safeguarded their ability to make products and sales – with the only net affect being that businesses may have to wait a little longer than previously for their goods to arrive. As long as there is clear communication between both parties, both can plan and prepare accordingly.

At the end of the day, Just In Time relies on thoughtful forward planning to ensure maximum efficiency – and this will remain the key to its success whatever the outcome of Brexit.

Best Storage in Manchester

When it comes to selecting the best storage warehouse for your businesses’ products, decision makers must take a number of factors into account.  Here at Barnes Logistics, we offer a secure warehouse, a range of flexible storage solutions and the implementation of JIT (Just In Time) Logistics strategies is there a better place to start when searching for the best storage in Manchester?

 

Our state of the art warehouse in Rochdale is an ideal choice for the best storage in the Manchester area, with convenient access off junction 20 on the M62 for distribution across the UK and even further afield to Europe. Offering 50,000 sq ft of secure storage space, we can accommodate a high volume of stock from our clients; and our fleets operate from more a than seven sites across the country to support a nationwide client base.  The key to our offering is flexibility: we offer flexible storage solutions including short, medium and long-term contracts to support our customers’ needs.

 

We also pride ourselves in using JIT logistics which, for one thing, allows us to play a vital part in reducing global waste, as well as offer the most efficient logistics services to our customers.  The demand-pull strategy of JIT logistics means that stock is only delivered when it is required, and our top of the range production scheduling software allows for the correct levels of stock to be ordered. Through the use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), suppliers and customers can communicate to ensure stock demand is up-to-date and is only obtained when a customer makes an order.

 

We recently had a visit from the Road Haulage Association – who rewarded us with an outstanding report which outlined how Barnes Logistics provides the best storage in Manchester with top safety measures implemented at all times and high quality software to contribute to the smooth-running of the warehouse.

 

Want to find out how we can assist you with the very best warehouse solutions?  Get in touch with our team today. 

Behind Barnes: Transport Planner

This year, we’ll be taking a look behind the scenes at Barnes Logistics and shining the spotlight on the people who make our business the success it is. From our professional drivers to HR managers, it takes a large team to ensure we deliver the highest quality Just In Time logistics services to our clients.

 

Today, we caught up with Joe Haywood, our Transport Planner in Rochdale…

 

What does your role as Transport Planner entail, Joe?

My role involves many things! My job is, broadly, to ensure we have the right number of professional drivers and lorries on the road to meet our clients’ demand and for deliveries to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. You need to be a great communicator, and be able to keep a cool head in high-pressure situations.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I start the day planning for the next: we have scheduled rotas and plans in place for the week and I refer to these daily to keep on track. I have to take aspects such as holidays, sickness and any other reasons a driver may not be working that specific day, and to accommodate this. I also manage the servicing of our vehicles – I work very closely with our drivers to learn about, and rectify, any vehicular issues.

 

Can you tell us about your career journey?

I have been working in the transport sector for over five years now, starting at 18 with a role as a Transport Administrator. This got my foot in the door, and whilst I moved up the ladder, I also decided to take time out to travel through Asia and Australia! In June 2018, I joined the Barnes team and have been using the skills and experience I’ve gained throughout the years to Rochdale.

 

What would you recommend to others looking to join the industry?

Transport is a rewarding and exciting industry – but it can be challenging! You have to be an organised person who’s always switched on. New issues come up each day which I haven’t dealt with before, so I have to apply my experience and industry knowledge to each new challenge. It’s always satisfying when you leave the office knowing that you have planned everything correctly and left with it running smoothly.

 

If you think you have what it takes and are interested in a career in the transport and logistics profession, get in touch!