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Welcome to the December 1st issue of Warehouse & Logistics News. Our cover story reports the global pandemic has shown to the market the value of automated transport technology and the benefits customers can receive by using these solutions. With many different industries now looking to introduce transport robotics into their intralogistics processes the positive growth of the business looks set to continue throughout 2021. So well done to E & K Automation which has introduced the VARIO MOVE range of automated guidance vehicles. Designed for the sustainable optimisation of transport and material flow, these fully automated transport robots include a variety of different handling devices offering safe, efficient and powerful industrial AGVs with maximum flexibility. The combination of their maintenance-friendly design and long lifecycle ensures sustainable costs and competitive advantages for customers in the long run.

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Although the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainty, today’s crisis might accelerate the implementation of automation by changing perspectives and needs from warehouse, manufacturing, and logistics companies. Being in a crisis situation has exposed vulnerabilities. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need for efficiency, cost reduction and a steady workforce ensuring business continuity. Going forward, companies will hunt for more resilience enabling them to anticipate quickly on volatile markets. Finance company DLL advises companies considering an investment in supply chain automation technology to look at both the hard and soft benefits of the potential technology with their financial advisor. By looking at the big picture, it often becomes clear that the solution will pay for itself very quickly.

Our order picking feature reports that order picking is one of the most important operations in the warehouse. Numerous picking systems are on the market, which suit the different goods that need to be picked or the turnover of the business. An order picking system needs to be efficient, accurate and preferably paperless, to suit the modern warehouse.

According to our buildings and facilities feature, UK online spending has seen a surge in 2020, following the country’s lockdowns. On average, online shopping’s share of total retail spending has increased by around 10%, peaking at 32.8% in May 2020 – the largest increase since 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics. Real estate investment company ProLogis estimated that for every €1 billion increase in online sales, an additional 72,000m2 of warehouse storage is required. The UK, however, is an under-warehoused country, which has led to low vacancy rates for several years now. Savills’ ‘big shed briefing’ lists the vacancy rate at 6.58%, which may be a cause for concern considering the falling rates of speculative warehouse construction. As industry confidence increases, this will likely rise in turn leading to an even greater need for warehouse construction.

Our packaging feature says packaging firms have shown a willingness to be flexible during both lockdowns. By switching production lines to making antibacterial products such as hand sanitiser, packaging companies can keep trading, while serving the nation’s health needs.

Enjoy reading the issue.

James Surridge

Publishing Editor

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