Welcome to the 15 November Warehouse & Logistics News. Forward thinking warehouse and logistics managers could end up going to Iceland – or Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons or Asda – this winter for salt to grit their yards and provide traction for the trucks to get out.

Last time round, large numbers of members of the public used table salt to supplement their local council’s efforts with road salt, and stocks of table salt ran out. Apparently it’s prompted proactive retailers to take action early to prevent their supply of table salt running low this time round. So you know where to go for your grit!

Whatever the weather’s doing, if you need temp staff to get the job done, read our interview in this issue with Extrastaff, the high street driving and industrial staff recruitment specialist. When Tim Millward conceived the Extrastaff business in 2003, there was no recognisable high street blue-collar brand in the UK. In those days the logistics and industrial specialists were predominantly local agencies, leaving a gap for a national network. Since then Extrastaff has opened 12 profitable locations across Southern England, won numerous awards and grown its sales organically year on year, with a compound annual growth rate of 60%.

We’ve also got scheduled features in this issue on Conveying & Sortation, looking at Automated materials handling equipment and IT solutions, and Order Picking, covering Pickers, pick to light, voice picking and hand held terminals.

It’s cold outside here in the UK, but in Beijing winter nights can get down to -20ºC, and in Northern China -40ºC is not uncommon. The economic temperature in China could get similarly frosty for British businesses in the light of recent reported remarks by our Prime Minister. As we went to press PM David Cameron was visiting Beijing with Britain’s biggest ever trade delegation, and using the occasion to make political points on some sensitive issues.

Cameron lecturing China about its trade imbalance and human rights record seems like telling off the guy at the fruit stall for his past behaviour, then still expecting him to give us the best apples. There’s a time and a place for everything.

An increasing proportion of our industrial goods are now made in the Far East, and China in particular. We talk of ‘manufacturing partnerships’ and the UK being a place for ‘final assembly.’ At the heart of this is dependence on partners, and trust and goodwill, keeping a firm eye on exchange rates, commodity prices, fuel prices and so on – and knowing the difference between assertive and aggressive. For British industry’s sake, if our PM feels he has to say such things on these visits, let’s hope the Chinese understand the intention of Cameron’s remarks, namely wanting to encourage a debate.

Happy reading, and keep warm.

Warehouse & Logistics News

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