UKWA has completed the first phases of its research in to the business needs of its members and the services they would like the Association to provide.
The work, undertaken by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership at Westminster University, involved interviews with UKWA members of all membership categories.
Members were asked to share their views and recommendations, as membership input is considered essential for generating ideas for new service development.
“The field work has provided an insight into the range of topics that are common for the members of various categories and has supported the evaluation of the list of potential new services,” said Roger Williams, UKWA’s CEO. Among the key findings were:
• UKWA’s Conditions of Contract are highly valued by its members and are used frequently. However, the research found evidence that not all the members understand and know how to apply the terms and conditions.
• Feedback on the service provided by UKWA’s honorary advisers suggested that the advisers are very good and members are happy with the level of professionalism and the quality of advice received, but there is a need to redefine the relationship between UKWA and its advisers to ensure that all the stakeholders know what to expect from the service.
• Networking opportunities provided by UKWA are generally perceived as beneficial and help SME companies to raise their profile.
Challenges to the warehousing industry
The survey also highlighted some of the broader issues facing the warehousing sector. For example, it appears that there is a general lack of understanding of new concepts within smaller warehousing companies with UKWA’s smaller members reporting that they are usually reactive and fire-fighting, overwhelmed with admin work and the time available for researching the market for new solutions and technologies is insufficient.
It also showed that there is a massive move amongst warehouses to reduce costs, wastage and paper use, however this can be achieved only with investments in technology, where funding might be an issue. Even in cases where plans and funding for WMS implementation are sufficient, members are often confused about where to start from.
The shortage of skilled staff in the sector was also flagged up: Some members have issues with finding HGV drivers, others are in need of more highly educated floor staff while some companies reported difficulties with finding and training staff to an acceptable level their client facing personnel.
Formal qualifications and experience are valued, however awareness of sources of information and how to assess those is seen as great advantage for potential new employees.
In the South-East (London) area there is higher demand and insufficient supply of machine, forklift and crane operators. While developing a national qualification is time consuming and expensive, if such a qualification is developed, some members declared that they would encourage their staff to take the qualification.
Roger Williams commented: “The survey provided some interesting feedback that will help to shape UKWA’s service offering in the years ahead.”
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