Welcome to the December 1st edition of Warehouse & Logistics News. As the build up to Christmas accelerates, this is when custom storage solutions come into their own, holding seasonal stocks and the growing returns from online shopping.

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“Go on, buy it, you can always send it back” – ParcelHero’s latest research reveals a hefty 50% of women’s clothing bought on Black Friday last year was later returned. They also quote B&Q saying 43% of their customers returned items bought in these one-day sales. But what’s most telling of all is the increasing cost of handling returns, incurred by omnichannel brick and mortar and online retailers.

On our front cover Rubb Buildings have supplied automotive component supplier Nifco with a custom structure for their pallet storage, adaptable as Nifco’s business changes. Using flexible structures to get more out of existing working space also offers a proven way for e commerce operations and brick and mortar retailers to offset the costs of handling returns, as mentioned earlier.

There’s more on buildings and structures in our Buildings & Facilities feature. Confirming UK business’s continuing confidence, Smart-Space, a leading provider of re-locatable, semi-permanent and permanent buildings, has completed construction of a timber processing and storage facility for Mike England Timber at the independent hardwood and softwood supplier’s headquarters near Preston.

Doing the housework is as important in industrial buildings as it is in homes. As our Buildings & Facilities Management feature points out, neglect cleanliness and you risk upsetting customers, losing business and making employees ill. Also in this feature, temperature-controlled operations come under scrutiny over their energy efficiency, but you can win by choosing your energy arrangements wisely and we have the example of Kuehne & Nagel’s Cork pharmaceuticals site switching to gas and cutting running costs from 30-40% compared with oil and electricity.

Automation is another way to save warehousing costs. In our Order Picking feature, KNAPP’s ‘E-Grocer’ automated solution is empowering AuchanDirect, part of French food retailer Auchan, to deliver 2,800 online grocery orders per day from its new southern Paris distribution centre. Also in Order Picking, Codeway, a specialist provider of Honeywell enterprise mobility solutions is marketing the Honeywell Mobility Edge platform, which enables warehouse mobility systems to transition seamlessly to Android from Microsoft CE and Windows Mobile.

In the year plastic waste is being shamed as the baddie of the packaging world, our Packaging feature tells the story of protective packaging experts Pregis’ clients using their Easypack paper packaging to send customers a green message. As we went to press WRAP has been setting out the targets through to 2025 for the UK Plastics Pact, the world’s first programme to tackle plastic waste through collaboration across the supply chain. We look forward to reporting progress.

And finally, as if the weather wasn’t murky enough already, Contact Attachments, one of the UK’s leading providers of forklift attachments, with specialist winter products including snow ploughs and telehandlers, say they are busy helping customers prepare for one of the coldest winters Britain has seen in years. You have been warned.

JAMES SURRIDGE

Publishing Editor

james@warehousenews.co.uk