Welcome to the 1 October Warehouse & Logistics News, bringing you the latest industry news in print, in digital format and on-line every fortnight. The bright autumn weather is certainly helping lighten the mood at the moment, but from where we sit any similar brightening in the ‘W&L’ sector is dampened by continued caution and reluctance to take risks.
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The CBI says the UK has started emerging from recession, then curbs our enthusiasm by predicting fragile growth next year due to lack of demand. Again, the FTSE 100 is still over 5000, but August’s static retail sales versus July cast doubt on recovery in consumer spending. What green shoots there are in the economy are delicate and stand to be damaged by any cooling that happens over the next few months.
One way for manufacturers to insulate themselves against icy economic conditions is to strengthen the parts supply chain to their field service operation by involving a specialist distribution partner. ByBox Field Support, profiled in this issue, operate the UK’s largest dedicated overnight parts distribution service, making over 20 million deliveries a year into 18,000 Pick Up and Drop Off and drop boxes. ByBox offers a similar service in Europe. But it doesn’t stop there: ByBox’s vision, which it realises for a growing number of companies, is to furnish them with total end-to-end supply chain solutions to transform their operations, customer service and overall business.
Our special features in this issue are Conveyors and Floors & Floor Care, two crucial areas within the warehouse which demand attention and investment to prepare for the upturn.
The outlook is promising for conveyor suppliers, with fresh investment in new equipment, orders increasing and ‘W&L’ a growth area but the recession isn’t over. That’s the view of Paul Hogg at Alwayse. European Conveyor Systems’ John Bower agrees there is a modest recovery, with systems being modified or upgraded, rather than replaced. Any assessment of the recession’s impact on demand for automated handling solutions will be distorted by the delaying effect of the long-term planning and investment involved in such projects, reckons Knapp UK’s David James. The past year has seen Knapp’s largest ever US order: here, many clients are postponing activities.
You can’t neglect warehouse floors, the subject of our second feature. Companies may be thinking twice about spending money on flooring, but even in the current climate they aren’t cutting back on safety for this part of their sites. Derek Thomas, Rocol’s Business Unit Manager for Site Safety Systems, says 2009 has been challenging but successful, with site safety business only marginally behind last year.
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